Top two power rankings matchup: Mount Carmel trims St. Joseph’s _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Rusty Costanza -- Mount Carmel's Emily Dares heads a ball past St. Joseph's Sarah Town on Saturday at Pan American Stadium.

Stoppage time decided the LHSAA girls Division I power rankings No. 1-versus-No. 2 showdown at Pan American Stadium on Saturday.

Awarded a free kick, top-seeded Mount Carmel lined up defender Kat Dehoog from 37 yards out.

Dehoog lifted her hand, inched forward and launched the ball. The ball dipped into the back of the net over the head of St. Joseph’s goalkeeper Ainsley Sonnier, sealing a 1-0 victory for Mount Carmel (13-2-2).

“She’s got a big leg. She’s very accurate, too,” Cubs coach Pavlos Petrou said. “We saw that their keeper wasn’t as tall, so I wanted them to keep shooting when we received free kicks within scoring distance. This time was no different.”

“Originally, it was designed to put it on top of Kate’s head, so she could make a play,” Dehoog said.

“But I just kind of shot it, and it worked out for us. I never ever practice that, but I just knew I had to make the shot for us because of what happened last season. It was really important to us.”

Important to beat St. Joseph’s Academy a year after the Redstickers upended the Cubs 3-1, knocking them out of the Division I state soccer playoffs last season.

“Given the stakes, I wouldn’t say revenge,” Petrou said. “But this matchup certainly meant a lot to them.

“And it’s No. 1 versus No. 2, so we wanted to come out strong and show that we belong here with the best of the best, which I think we accomplished.”

For the majority of the match, Mount Carmel controlled possession, relegating the Redstickers (14-6-2) to counterattacking most of the time. However, after 80 minutes, the match remained scoreless.

“It’s about creating chances, and I think we were a little bit indecisive,” Petrou said.

“Moving the ball around and moving it quickly allowed us to control possession and dictate the matchup. It’s just that we weren’t making as many runs toward the goal as we could have.

“The girls were entertaining the sides a bit too much, trying to spread them out. Even when we crossed the ball in, there weren’t many players running inside the box. Credit St. Joseph’s for that. They’re a quality program and made it tough for us.”

When St. Joseph’s finally found a way to build up their counterattack, the Cubs were caught off guard. A through ball split the back line, leaving a one-on-one breakaway for the Redstickers.

Mount Carmel’s goalkeeper, Sam Bourgeois, snatched up the dangerous shot, though, to preserved the tie until Dehoog’s game-winner.

“I couldn’t believe it went in,” she said.

Said Petrou: “In this kind of match, one goal may be all you need to get the victory. I’m just glad it was us.”