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Plains falls short in 1A girls soccer semis

Pleasant Plains forward Ella Wilcockson prepares to throw the ball during a nonconference girls soccer match against Sacred Heart-Griffin on Monday, April 10, 2023.

NAPERVILLE — The eyes don’t lie: Pleasant Plains wanted to win.

Immediately following the Cardinals’ 2-0 loss to Normal U-High in the Class 1A girls soccer state tournament semifinal game on Friday at North Central College, few — if any — of the Pleasant Plains’ players had dry eyes.

“The thing about these guys is that it’s family and they just want to play together,” Pleasant Plains coach Greg Bryan said. “When they don’t get the result, obviously tears are going to flow.”

After a scoreless first half — and the third in two games after Rock Island Alleman survived Elmhurst IC Catholic 1-0 in a penalty kick shootout in the first semifinal — Aubrey Balota and Scout Minnaert buried goals to put the Pioneers (16-8-2 ) in the Class 1A championship game at 5 pm Meanwhile, Plains (26-3-1) will face IC Catholic for third place at 3 pm

“There’s no change to what we expected,” Bryan said. “We knew (Balota) was going to do some damage; very, very good player. We gave her a little bit too much space, she hit a nice shot and kind of turned it on us.

“Even in the first half, we were not able to have a possession like we wanted, making sure that we’re moving off the ball, connecting passes. We did a decent job at times but we’d make these errant passes that would cost us.”

Balota scored an unassisted goal in the 44thth minute to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead. Minnaert’s goal, also unassisted, gave U-High an insurance tally in the 59thth minutes.

Plains sophomore Ella Wilcockson fought through her emotions to say that she was putting into perspective the significance of the Cardinals’ second trip to the state semifinals.

“I am incredibly proud of these girls,” Wilcockson said. “I don’t think we brought our best effort today but I know we left what we brought today on the field. Just the fact that we’re even here is amazing. We haven’t been here in a long time and these girls worked their butts off.

“It’s hard; it’s obviously not the outcome we wanted but I’m so proud of these girls and honestly I’m enjoying my opportunity to even be here because not every athlete is going to get this experience.”

Contact Ryan Mahan: 788-1546, [email protected],

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Normal U-High gets two goals in second half to beat Pleasant Plains 2-0

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