On a cold, blustery night perfect for indoor soccer, West Aurora and Kaneland took to the outdoors for a game on Thursday evening with the host Blackhawks grabbing a 1-0 victory.
Blackhawks forward Jessica Saffell scored the game’s only goal off an assist from midfielder Karla Torres with 4:42 left in the first half.
“I was surprised the pass from Karla got through, so I just took advantage of the opportunity,” said Saffell. “I just caught the goalie stepping out and not covering her post.”
West Aurora (3-4) dominated possession in the first half, out-shooting the Knights 9-1 in the game’s first 45 minutes. However, the Blackhawks had nothing to show for their effort until Saffell’s strike hit the back of the net late in the half.
“It was huge getting that goal right before the end of the half so we could go into the second half knowing that we had that one goal up,” said Saffell.
West Aurora keeper Gabbie Hansem made four saves on her way to picking up a shutout. Hansem had to do most of her work in the final 15 minutes of the second half as the Knights made a late charge.
“Our defense played very calm, which was good because the last four minutes of the game was just them pushing,” said West Aurora coach Laura Wagley. “We just stayed relaxed and played our game.”
Saffell had two excellent opportunities early in the second half to extend the Blackhawks’ lead, but Kaneland keeper Jordan Ginther made two diving saves within 35 seconds of each other to keep the score 1-0. Ginther made nine saves in the game.
Wagley said she wasn’t surprised with the low scoring game.
“We knew they had a great keeper, so we knew it was going to be a great, close game,” said Wagley. “I told the girls before the game that we have to possess and take advantage of our opportunities, and we did.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.