The Marquette Catholic Explorers ran into a buzz saw in Friday's Class 1A state semifinals at North Central College in Naperville.
Marquette lost 3-0 to West Chicago (Wheaton Academy). The Explorers fell behind 1-0 at the half and watched the Warriors tack on a pair of insurance goals in the second half.
Marquette now meets Williamsville at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the third-place match. Williamsville lost 6-1 to Woodstock (Marian) in Friday's other semifinal contest.
Wheaton Academy and Marian square off at 5 p.m. Saturday in the 1A state championship match.
“The IHSA realigned the teams again this year and they're a 700-plus school,” Explorers' head coach Steve Mitchell said of WA via telephone Friday. “They're a true 2A school. They've been in the super-sectional one of the last two years and the sectional finals last year in 2A. They won a state title (2009) in 2A. For 1A, they're really good. They would place in 2A probably, but the bottom line is no matter what excuses you use or what you say, we just came out flat. We weren't ready to play and when you get down to a team like that 1-0 it is what it is. If we would have held off the one goal we could have gotten to halftime and adjusted some things and we might have had a shot, but the one goal kind of put us in a bad place.”
Wheaton Academy's first goal came in the 22nd minute off the foot of Gretchen Pearson. It was unassisted.
That's the way the score remained until Pearson found the back of the net again in the 63rd minute. Sophie Lindquist assisted on that score. The Warriors struck again in the 72nd minute when Emmerson Fuller scored on a penalty kick.
Overall, WA outshot Marquette 21-1. Lauren Fischer collected 11 saves in goal for the Explorers and gave way to Sonora Eldred late. Eldred made one save.
Wheaton Academy improved to 21-3-3 with the victory. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Marquette, which dropped to 14-10-3 with the loss.
The Explorers will look to rebound Saturday against Williamsville.
“The kids earned the right to be here, I'm proud of them and we're going to come out tomorrow and try and get third,” Mitchell said.
The good news is by qualifying for the state tournament Marquette is already guaranteed to bring home some hardware. Now it's up to the Explorers to determine if that state hardware will be a third or fourth place trophy.
“I told them at the super-sectional to leave it all on the field and we're coming home with hardware,” Mitchell said. “I told them we'd go up and take our chances and that's what we did. We just weren't ready to play and we faced a team that was. You can't win them all.
“We're going to shake it off and come out tomorrow and try and take home third. There's nothing wrong with third. There are only four teams left and one has to win it and the other three have to take the other places.”