The Normal West girls soccer team moved on to the Elite 8 with a 2-0 win over Morton in the IHSA Class 2A East Peoria Sectional championship Friday night.
The Wildcats scored two goals in the first half on its way to victory at EastSide Centre.
“They’re a good team,” Morton head coach Tory DeLong said after the game. “When you come out flat, I feel like I should take a little bit of the heat on that, and the first 40 minutes we didn’t play our best and you can’t take that kind of 40 minute warm up to get ready against a good team like that.”
Normal West spent a lot of time in Morton territory, compiling 16 shots on goal.
“We had people scattered,” DeLong said. “They had people all over the place and we were trying to make sure we knew where (Kate) Lorenz was, of course, but they had more than Lorenz. I think we could of tried the man marker and I still think they would of had girls all over the place. They have more than one player, so it makes it difficult to think that you’re just going to key on somebody.”
Troy University recruit Kate Lorenz used her speed to drive around a Morton defender to get Normal West on the board in the 10th minute with an unassisted goal.
“Kate Lorenz is in a class by herself, obviously,” Normal West head coach Val Walker said. “We knew that they were going to put some guys on her but ultimately there’s 80 minutes. You can’t deny her for 80 minutes.”
The Wildcats scored their final goal of the game when Olivia Petersfound the back of the net with six seconds left in the first half.
“You play a good team, you can’t have so much as a 30-second span where you’re not concentrating,” DeLong said.
The Lady Potters battled in the second half, but were unable to get on the scoreboard, despite eight shots at the Wildcats goal.
“They just win the ball in the air. They’re physical, they’re fast, they really don’t have holes and they’re so organized,” DeLong said. “Coach Walker has them playing so well together; constantly communicating. They know where everybody is, and when people make a run, they’re constantly talking.”
Morton (10-8-5) finished the season winning eight out of its last 10 games before the loss to the Wildcats.
“If you would of told me at the beginning of the year that you’re going to end up in the sectional finals, there’s no doubt that I would of been like, ‘Alright its going to be a great year,’” DeLong said. “We had a lot of injuries in the middle of the year and other things that kind of left us shorthanded for a while and as players started coming back we were able to basically have our full team for the last 12-13 games, so that made a huge difference.”
The Potters reached the sectional championship for the first time since the 2013 season when they advanced to the Elite 8 with a win over Peoria Notre Dame.
“They’re a good quality team. There’s no shame in losing to Normal West. They’re a very talented team,” DeLong said. “They’ve got great players. Obviously, I wish we played better, but I’m still proud of these girls with how they played all year.”