WOOD RIVER — Fighting through gusting winds and Roxana's staunch defense, the Marquette Catholic Explorers were able to secure a 4-0 win Monday at Wood River Soccer Park.
Strong winds guided the style of play on Monday, but in the end the Explorers were able to overcome it led by senior Kate Sanfilippo. Sanfilippo netted two goals and dished out two assists to steer the Explorers to victory, improving their record to 7-2-2. The Shells slipped to 6-5-0, suffering their third consecutive loss.
“I think we played good. We connected some passes and after we got used to the wind we got the hang of it,” said Sanfilippo, who is bound for Northern Illinois to continue her soccer career next season. “We started off a little rough.”
It didn't take long for Marquette to climb onto the scoreboard though. Sanfilippo found Annabelle Copeland for the first goal of the game in the sixth minute, staking the Explorers to a 1-0 lead.
Sanfilippo then tallied the next goal in the 14th minute on a pass from Adriana Schindler pushing the score to 2-0.
The Shells decided to stack their defense in front of freshman goalie Braeden Lackey, starting her first game with regular goalie Sam Hurst unable to play. At times the box was stacked with 10 Roxana defenders to help contain Marquette.
The defensive stand of the Shells pleased head coach Lori Yates.
“I'm very pleased with the way they played,” Yates said. “Braeden Lackey, it's her first time starting varsity. She's been in a couple varsity games when (Hurst) has gotten hurt, but she was very nervous and I said, 'You need to relax, we'll take care of it.' I was very pleased with the way we played defensively and Braeden in goal was awesome. We had a couple chances to score ourselves.”
One of those chances game in the 31st minute when Roxana got a chance on an empty goal, but the Marquette defense was there to clear it out.
The Explorers struck again in the 39th minute, with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock in the first half. It was Sanfilippo again, this time scoring off of a free kick on an assist from Claire Dalton. Sanfilippo blistered the ball past Lackey from the top of the box.
Sanfilippo has switched positions from midfield to forward and it has resulted in more chances for Marquette. Head coach Steve Mitchell understands what his senior star is capable of doing with the ball.
“She's such a great player that we had her at center mid because she controls the whole flow of the game, but we weren't getting any chances on goal,” Mitchell said. “We thought, 'We don't want to sacrifice her, but we have to.' Against some of the better teams you feel like you almost waste her standing her up as a forward where she's waiting on the ball, so we put her up as an attacking mid slash third forward and it's working out a whole lot better.”
Sanfilippo's chances have risen, but that's not the name of the game for her, it's about whatever works for her team to find success. It doesn't matter to her what position she plays.
“I don't go out there for the goals,” Sanfilippo said. “I just go out there and play and if I get one good, but I'm more of a team player. There are definitely more opportunities going up to forward and I'm getting used to playing with Annabelle and it's a lot of fun.
“I don't care where I play though. It's wherever coach needs me.”
Sanfilippo was a part of the final goal for Marquette, too. It came in the 75th minute when she crossed a pass in front of the goal to teammate Lauren Schmickley who touched it past Lackey to push the score to 4-0 in favor of the Explorers.
Overall Marquette outshot Roxana 17-4 and dominated the corner battle 8-0.
On paper it doesn't look like a game where Yates would be happy with the Shells' efforts, but that wasn't the case. Limiting the Explorers to four goals was a success and one Yates helps her squad can build on moving forward.
“I think the girls should be nothing but proud of themselves,” Yates said. “They proved they can hold a game, they can compete in a game, they can play a defensive game and still come out OK. It doesn't matter if the scoreboard is 4-0.”
Mitchell thought the effort of the Shells was great and believes Yates has the program trending in the right direction.
“They've come a long way and they've got a couple youth programs around here and those programs help anybody,” Mitchell said. “It was a good game. I think we should have had more goals, but a win is a win.”
Marquette is back in action at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Gordon Moore Park against visiting Normal Community. The Explorers then round out the week with the grueling Sacred Heart-Griffin Tournament on Thursday-Saturday.
Roxana is idle until 4:15 p.m. Thursday when it travels to Breese Central.
MARQUETTE 4, ROXANA 0
Marquette 3 1 — 4
Roxana 0 0 — 0
M — Annabelle Copeland (Kate Sanfilippo), 6th minute
M — Sanfilippo (Adriana Schindler), 14th minute
M — Sanfilippo (Claire Dalton), 39th minute
M — Lauren Schmickley (Sanfilippo), 75th minute
Shots: Marquette 17, Roxana 4
Corners: Marquette 8, Roxana 0