WAUKEGAN – Richmond-Burton goalkeeper Kendall Haugaard did everything she could to keep her team in Wednesday's Class 1A Waukegan Sectional semifinal soccer match against North Shore Country Day.
After allowing a rebound goal to Paige Forester – after a two-handed diving stop to her right in the 13th minute of the first half – she repeatedly shut the door.
First, Haugaard robbed Raiders forward Edith Edwards-Mizell by sliding feet-first near the top of the goal area in a one-on-one situation in the 17th minute. Ten minutes later, she stymied Edwards-Mizell again on a point-blank blast a few feet from the net.
Then, in the 29th minute, she thwarted a free kick that seemed destined for the right side of the goal from about 20 yards out. And finally, in the 35th minute, she made a sliding stop after a rebound during a goalmouth scrum.
By that point, Haugaard had stopped 14 of the first 15 shots she'd faced, and the second-seeded Rockets still trailed by only a goal. But it wasn't enough to stop the top-seeded Raiders (13-3), who scored again five seconds before halftime and coasted to a 6-0 victory.
"Certainly, Kendall held us together and gave us a chance to be in the game leading up to halftime," R-B coach Casey DeCaluwe said. "She made big save after big save, and she organizes so well back there. She was great giving her defenders instructions on where to be positionally. Her leadership stood out."
The Raiders added four more goals in the second half and have scored 24 times in three games this postseason without allowing a goal. Against R-B, they went the entire 80 minutes without allowing a shot, and outshot the Rockets, 27-0.
Despite those lopsided numbers, the Rockets (7-10-2) refused to quit.
"That positive mentality is something we developed every day in practice," R-B senior Morgan DeGroot said. "The harder we worked, the better we kept getting. And that led to the girls all encouraging each other all the time."
"Prior to each game, we always talk about leaving it all on the field," R-B senior Bailee Lasch added. "We knew they were a better, quicker team. But we refused to let that intimidate us."
It's a collective mindset that helped lead the Rockets to their fourth regional title in the past five seasons when they beat Johnsburg, 4-0, last week.
"We started out kind of rough early in the year," R-B senior forward Audrey Orkild said. "To be able to regroup and win a regional title after the slow start says a lot about our character. It's something no one can ever take from us."
The Rockets will lose Orkild and three other seniors to graduation in Charlie Holas, Leigha Denzel and goalkeeper Katelynn Carlson. After the match, the team received a standing ovation from their families, friends and fans along the sideline opposite their bench.
"Everyone walked out of here with their heads held high today, and they should," DeCaluwe said. "I couldn't be more proud of this group of girls. Our seniors realized you only have this opportunity once in a lifetime. So to leave everything out there the way they did ... that's something they can always reflect on and be proud of."
The Raiders will face Willows Academy, another No. 2 seed, at noon Saturday in the sectional final.
STAR OF THE GAME
Kendall Haugaard, Richmond-Burton, jr, G
Haugaard was outstanding, particularly in the first half, when she stopped 14 of the first 15 shots she faced.
24: Positive goal differential for North Shore Country Day through three playoff games. The Raiders have outscored their opponents, 24-0.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
"This team is losing a lot of character to graduation, but with enough hard work, they have the potential for big things next season," R-B senior Katelynn Carlson said.
Class 1A Waukegan Sectional semifinal
North Shore Country Day 6, Richmond-Burton 0
Richmond-Burton 0 0 – 0
North Shore Country Day 2 4 – 6
N-Forester, 13th minute
N-Edwards-Mizell (Forester assist), 40th minute
N-Fortier (Edwards-Mizell), 48th minute
N-Weil, 54th minute
N-Hae Lillig, 61st minute
N-Hae Lillig (Weil), 69th minute
Goalkeeper saves: Richmond-Burton: Haugaard (25 shots, 19 saves), Carlson (2 shots, 2 saves). North Shore Country Day: Renaud (0 shots, 0 saves). Red/yellow cards: None.