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Girls Soccer: Gianna Dal Pozzo Scores Three Goals In Two Minutes As Neuqua Valley Tops Geneva

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.

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Boys Track: Host Kaneland Takes First Place At Peterson Prep Invitational

Workers get the pit ready for the triple jump final at Peterson Prep.

Sixteen teams came to Kaneland High School on Saturday in hopes of winning the Peterson Prep Invitational, but it was the home team that finished first.

The Knights placed in 15 of 18 events, won two relays and had three individual champions on their way to capturing first place with 84 points.

“This was a nice win for us on our home track,” said Kaneland coach Eric Baron. “All these programs are very good. To finish in the top five or top ten here shows you’re a strong competitor throughout the state of Illinois.”

Geneva, who held the team lead going into the final event, ended up in second place with 75 points. Burlington Central, paced by their intermediate runners, captured third place.

West Aurora finished in fourth place with 64 points, Yorkville took fifth with 45 and Oswego East followed closely in sixth with 42. Elgin came in ninth with 30 points, East Aurora finished in 12th place with 16, and Dundee Crown ended up in 14th with 9 to round out area teams.

Kaneland rode anchor Sean Carter to first in the 4×100 (43.78) and 4×200 (1:31.31) relays. The Knights also finished second in the 4×400 (3:26.62).

Dylan Nauert (300 meter hurdles) and Nate Dyer (discus and shot put) won individual championships for the Knights.

“Taking first at a home invite is a lot of excitement,” said Dyer. “Doing it twice, it was definitely a good day.”

Geneva’s Ben Rogers launched himself into first place in both the long jump (21 feet, 8 inches) and triple jump (43-11).

The Vikings’ senior was held back last season by a nagging hamstring injury. This year he’s fully healthy and performing at an exceptionally high level. His mark in the triple jump on Saturday was a new personal best.

“I’d like to keep getting better every meet, I think that’s the goal,” said Rogers. “I think if I can keep getting better each meet, I’m going to end up where I want to be.”

The Vikings also got a big boost on the track from Justin Davis, who finished first in the 400 meters, third in the 200 meters and seventh in the 100 meters.

“We covered the events well, which is what we always preach,” said Geneva coach Gale Gross. “We had to fight through some injuries, but overall the kids did awesome.”

Burlington Central runners Mike Gulik and Clint Kliem both finished in first place in three events. The two were part of the Rockets’ first-place 4×400 (3:25.43) and 4×800 (8:01.69) relay teams.

Gulik captured first in the 800 meters (1:57.28) while Kliem was the champion of the 1600 meter race (4:24.38). Kliem ran the third leg of the 4×400 relay just 25 minutes after setting a personal record in the 1600.

“That last one was just all guts,” said Kliem. “After finishing that mile, I just kept my legs up for five or ten minutes, did a little jog, and tried not to think about the next race. It’s just all basically a mental game.”

Central athletes Ben Damisch (400 meters) and Johnny Reuter (pole vault) both took home second place in their events.

Fourth-place West Aurora was paced by pole vaulter Royce Golembeck, who jumped 13-06 to capture first in his event.

The Blackhawks also got strong performances in the field from Aaron Kennebrew (second place in the triple jump and fourth place in the high jump), Lijah Spears (second place in the discus) and Jonny Gosong (third place in the long jump).

“We came in with a good focused attitude and we did a real nice job today,” said Blackhawks coach Cortney Lamb. “It’s not our best meet, but we have a lot things we can build on.”

Fifth-place Yorkville had no individual champions but runners Jake Callahan (800 meters), Chris Kellogg (1600 meters) and Eric Baker (3200 meters) all finished second in their events. The Foxes also got third place finishes from Jake Hoffert (3200 meters) and Joe Haske (pole vault).

Sixth-place Oswego East was paced by senior Kalmon Stokes, who finished second in both the 110 meter hurdles (15.77) and 300 meter hurdles (40.84). The same Wolves team of Dakoda Skenandore, Andrew Holm, Rene Salinas and Chase Skenandore took home third place in 4×800 relay (8:09.19) and fifth place in the 4×400 relay (3:32.24).

Elgin’s Dennis Moore was definitely the standout athlete for the Maroons. The senior sprinter blazed his way to first place in the 100 meter dash (11.46) and fourth place in the 200 meter dash (23.72).

Moore, along with teammates Terrell Campbell, Derek Moorman and DeVante King, also took home second place in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.

East Aurora sprinter Desmond Gant accounted for all of the Tomcats’ points. The electrifying sophomore earned first place in the 200 meter dash (23.07) and third place in 100 meter dash (11.61).

“In my opinion, this was the fastest competition I’ve had,” said Gant. “If I’m winning against these guys, I know I can go out at other meets and come in first with a bigger lead. So, that’s my goal now.”

Dundee-Crown’s highest finisher was shot putter Joe Meixner, whose throw of 137-09 earned him third place. The Chargers placed in two relays, earning fifth in the 4×200 (1:33.27) and sixth in the 4×800 (8:14.33).

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon, Elgin Courier and yourseason.com. It appears here and here. I wrote separate stories for the Beacon and Courier and combined them for the blog.

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Girls Soccer: Geneva Recovers From Slow Start, Defeats West Aurora 6-0

Geneva midfielders Catherine Allon and Michaela Loebel each scored a pair of goals as the Vikings defeated West Aurora 6-0 in Aurora on Saturday afternoon.

Despite Geneva (4-0) dominating possession of the ball, West Aurora (1-3) was able to stand their ground for most of the first half. The Vikings were held scoreless until Allon tallied the game’s first goal with three minutes remaining in the first half. The senior scored from five yards out off a perfect corner feed from defender Caitrin Griffin.

The Vikings went into halftime with a 1-0 lead and, most importantly, momentum.

“I knew we needed to get at least one goal before the half ended, just to give us a strong heads up going into the second half,” said Allon. “We knew we dominated most of the first half, we just struggled putting it away.”

The Vikings had no problem putting the ball away in the second half. Allon scored her second goal of the game less than five minutes after halftime, sparking a five goal second half for Geneva.

“I think it was good that we got that first goal before halftime, it kind of opened the flood gates,” said Geneva head coach Megan Owens.

“I think we played better in the second half as a result of that goal. In the first half we were looking to pass off and set up the perfect shot. But in the second half, the girls just wanted to get after it.”

Loebel scored the next two goals for the Vikings. With 33 minutes remaining in the second half, Loebel dribbled through two defenders and shot the ball past Blackhawks goalie Sam O’Brien from 10 yards out.

Eight minutes later, Loebel scored from five yards out to put the Vikings up 4-0 with 25 minutes remaining in the game.

Courtney Lardas and Molly Axen scored the final two goals for Geneva.

“We connected very well today, we found feet,” said Owens. “Kids were making really good runs off the ball, and they were communicating really well. They were doing all the little things right.”

West Aurora played well on defense early in the game despite facing constant pressure from the attacking Vikings offense. However, the Blackhawks just ran out of gas in the second half.

“We were tired and beat up in the second half,” said West Aurora head coach Laura Wagley. “In the first half, we did great and we stuck with them. Then in the second half, we were just way too tired for them.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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