Mount Carmel sophomore Esther Lagos didn’t enter the game until the first overtime Wednesday, but she made the most of her time.
Lagos’ goal in the 107th minute capped a thrilling and physical 1-0 win over No. 19 Northshore in a Division I regional playoff match at Pan American Stadium.
“I just asked for the ball and shot it,” Lagos said. “I just looked to the far corner and shot it. It feels good. Both teams had good chances, so it was just a matter of putting one away and being ready for the moment. When I came in, I just wanted to give my team the chances that it needed to win.”
The third-seeded Cubs will host No. 6 East Ascension in the quarterfinals, after East Ascension knocked off Dominican 1-0 to advance.
“It went in slow motion,” said Mount Carmel sophomore defender Cecelia Kurtz, about the game-winner. “I remember going down and thinking ‘No way.’ I don’t remember running toward Esther (Lagos), but I just remember everyone dogpiling on her. It was just the best feeling.”
The Division I, District 6 champion Cubs (18-1-7) were tested early by the Panthers (10-8-2) before Mount Carmel settled into the match.
The Cubs generated several chances in the first half including a near miss by Stefanie Pappas.
Both teams had chances in the second half as Mount Carmel’s Maddy Murret send a shot wide in the 60th minute, only to have Northshore’s Haley St. Amant send a shot just over the crossbar minutes later.
Lagos entered the match in the first overtime and provided a spark, but Northshore senior goalkeeper Jade Gallaher came up with save after save to force the match into a second overtime period, where Lagos finally broke through.
Mount Carmel coach Pavlos Petrou described Lagos as “on fire” when she entered the match and said that her energy helped the Cubs keep the pressure on a tough Northshore defense.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Petrou said. “We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn’t finish any. It came down to what we always tell the kids to take care of the last little decision. Esther just had an awesome shot. It was really deserving.”
Northshore’s Kristen Delhom and St. Amant put pressure on the Cubs defense with counterattacks, but each time keeper Sam Bourgeios was up to the task. Kurtz said the defense’s closeness helped it weather the Panthers chances.
“Everyone was going in for every tackle,” she said. “Even though our defense is very young, there is great communication between us. We know our strengths and weaknesses and help each other off of those.
“Everyone was just working together as hard as they can.”