In a rematch of District 5foes, No. 9-seeded Northlake Christian scored five unanswered goals, including two from senior Maddie Gill in the second half to defeat No. 24 St. Thomas Aquinas 5-1 in a first-round, Division IV girls soccer playoff game Thursday night.
Northlake Christian (12-10-2) advances to the regional round to take and will travel to take on eighth-seeded Episcopal of Acadiana. St. Thomas Aquinas ends its season with a 5-7-2 record.
Sophomore Mia Milton got the Falcons on the board in the 19th minute. After St. Thomas Aquinas held possession on the Northlake Christian side of the field for almost two minutes, Milton launched a rainbow shot from 35 yards out that bounced over the head of the Wolverines goalie to give the Falcons the early 1-0 advantage.
Northlake Christian’s had a chance to tie the game in the 30th minute. Senior Bethany Acosta’s corner kick got past the STA goaltender, but the Wolverines failed to convert the scoring opportunity.
Malia Cazalot had a breakaway in the 34th minute for NCS, but her shot hit the post.
STA held a 1-0 lead at halftime despite being outshot 8-2.
Cazalot finally broke through early in the second half, maneuvering through three Falcons defenders in the goal box to tie it.
“We fell behind early but knew we had to continue to stay positive,” Gill said. “We had the momentum for a majority of the game. We were getting off good shots. We just knew we had to relax and execute better. In the second half, we did that.
“The offensive attack really started to heat up in the second half as we kept a constant pressure on those guys (STA). That allowed us to relax and finish the opportunities we had. Once that first goal found the back of the net, then we really knew we had things going and then the goals started to come in bunches.”
After Cassidy Arcement’s penalty kick gave the Wolverines a 2-1 lead, Gill added a pair of insurance goals in the 66th and 69th minute, with the latter coming on a penalty kick.
Blair Kent’s goal in stoppage time made it 5-1 Wolverines.
“Five goals in the second half against a team as well coached as STA is quite an accomplishment,” NCS coach Nick Chetta said. “I just kep preaching to this team to continue playing your game, and at some point the goals would start to come. It’s like what Maddie said, once we got that first one, it sort of opened the floodgates.”
The game was a rematch of a Jan. 12 district showdown in which Northlake defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 2-0 in Hammond.