Girls Soccer: Lake Zurich tops Vernon Hills in NSC title game
Lake Zurich's Danielle Tassi left) and Vernon Hills' Brianna Bahlmann battle during NSC title game last week. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2012 2:53PM
If a picture is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes, then the expression of pure joy on the face of Lake Zurich freshman goalkeeper Eleanor Daleske — moments after she made the game-winning save that clinched the North Suburban Conference girls soccer championship for the Bears — deserves to be etched in stone forever.
After enduring 80 minutes of scoreless regulation, four pulse-pounding 10-minute overtime periods, and four shootout rounds, Daleske made the save in the fifth shootout round that finally ended Tuesday night’s 120-plus minute epic marathon — a 1-0 Bears shutout victory for the ages.
She was then promptly mobbed by her teammates, disappeared into a sea of blue jerseys, and when she came out was sporting a glowing smile that seemingly could have lit up the night sky.
“We earned it,” Daleske said. “We tried so hard those first 80 minutes of regulation, then we played just as hard through the next four overtime periods ... we just really deserve this. Right now, all I really care about is my team. They earned it. It wasn’t just all me. It was them that stuck through it until the end.”
The game’s lone goal came in the third round of the penalty kick shootout. That’s when LZ sophomore Meaghan Gelinas belted a shot into the low left corner of the net, just under the out-stretched arm of Cougars goalie Iris Ostrovsky. And just like that, over three hours of missed opportunities, frustration and incredibly hard work came to fruition.
“I just went with my gut instinct,” Gelunus said, when asked why she chose that particular spot to shoot the game-winner. “I don’t want to say much more than that as far as why I picked that location. It was a really incredible game to be a part of. I’m just glad it went in.”
First-year LZ coach Mike Castronova had a look of pride and near disbelief on his face after the game at what his young team had just accomplished.
“First off, my hats off to Vernon Hills,” Castronova said. “They’re a great team, and it’s a shame the game had to be decided on penalty kicks ... but I’m really proud of our girls. They fought all season, and this was one of our goals. To see it actually happen is amazing.
“No one really expected anything from us this year, but everything we talked about all season, they put into motion,” he added.
As good as Daleske was for the Bears, Ostrovsky was equally spectacular in goal for the Cougars, despite the heart-breaking loss. With 4:18 remaining in the second overtime, Ostrovsky robbed Ohio-State bound junior Vanesa Abad on a point-blank chance that seemed to be a sure goal for LZ.
Abad’s rocket from about 10 feet away was labeled for the top middle of the goal, yet somehow, Ostrovsky made a one-handed fingertip save that deflected the ball over the goal, and kept the Cougars alive. With 6:15 remaining in the third OT, she made another remarkable leaping save that again kept her team in the game.
“When I was jumping for those two shots in the overtime periods, I definitely had some extra adrenaline going,” Ostrovsky said. “We played our hearts out there tonight, and I couldn’t be more happy with our effort headed into the playoffs next week.”
VH coach Vince LaDuca also had words of praise for his team’s effort.
“We played extremely well,” DeLuca said. “We had opportunities to win ... they had opportunities to win — we came out on the short end. It’s too bad either team had to lose. They made one penalty kick, and we didn’t make ours. But you know what? This was an incredible game. We played hard. We wanted to come out here and play hard, and we did.”