The teams take the field before Thursday’s Naperville Invitational quarterfinal.
Neuqua Valley junior Gianna Dal Pozzo scored three goals in just over two minutes of second half action as the Wildcats defeated Geneva 4-2 in Thursday’s quarterfinal of the Naperville Invitational.
The Wildcats move on to face undefeated Naperville North tomorrow night at Naperville Central in a semifinal of the Naperville Invitational.
It took Dal Pozzo just 2:07 to tally her first-career hat-trick and for the Wildcats to take complete control of the game played at Naperville Central.
“It was the greatest feeling ever,” said Dal Pozzo. “We had a lot of chances in the game. I just knew we had to finish them to get ahead, and that’s what I did.”
With the Wilcats trailing 2-1, Dal Pozzo took a pass from sophomore forward Olivia Schmitt and scored from 10 yards out to tie the game at 2-2 with 26:42 remaining in the second half.
Just 38 seconds later, Dal Pozzo gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead with a header after receiving a perfect corner entry from junior midfielder Hope D’Addario.
“We’ve been working on corners a lot and executing them, and Hope just played a great ball,” said Dal Pozzo. “I saw it coming over the defender so I was backing up and just came right through it and put it on the far post.”
The junior forward capped off her two minute scoring binge with another goal assisted on by Schmitt. Dal Pozzo fired a laser from 10 yards out to put the Wildcats up 4-2 with 24:35 remaining in the second half.
Dal Pozzo’s hat-trick was the Wildcats’ third straight, as Neuqua Valley forward Zoey Goralski scored three goals in back-to-back games coming into Thursday.
Goralski scored the Wildcats’ first goal of Thursday’s game just two minutes into the second half. The junior tied the game at 1-1 when she unleashed a shot from the far right corner of the field that went through the fingertips of Geneva keeper Marissa Schroyer and into the back of the net.
Neuqua Valley (13-3-2) and Geneva (11-3-4) played to a 1-1 tie in Geneva on Apr. 12. Wildcats coach Joe Moreau credited his team’s quick, aggressive style of play for the change in result.
“We were attacking the ball. That’s what we’ve been talking about, attacking and firing shots in the box,” said Moreau. “Geneva is a very fast team, and we were just trying to make them chase. When we hung on to the ball, we got in trouble.”
Geneva senior Catherine Allon scored both of the Vikings’ goals. Allon’s first goal came off a pass from junior Amanda Lulek late in the first half, and the Vikings went into halftime up 1-0 despite being out-shot 14-6 in the first half.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Xavier-bound senior rocketed a shot that caromed off the top goal post and into the net, giving the Vikings a 2-1 lead.
“We worked hard. I can’t fault their effort, we just checked out in a panic for three minutes and it killed us, but you learn from it,” said Geneva head coach Megan Owens. “We lost our focus for three minutes and that’s what the top teams like Neuqua are going to do to you.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.