DOWNERS GROVE — Gianna Marconi had a plan, even if it didn’t look like she did.
The Downers Grove North junior found the ball at her feet midway through the second half of Saturday’s game with visiting Downers Grove South. From 23 yards out and near the left side of the penalty area, she turned and lofted a shot that tucked itself inside the top corner of the far post for the decisive goal in the Trojans’ 2-1 win over the Mustangs.
“I had an opportunity like that in the first half and didn’t convert, so I promised myself at halftime if I had the opportunity again I’d take it,” Marconi said. “I knew I wanted to go far post, I just didn’t know how high it was going to go.”
Marconi’s goal put North ahead for good and the Trojans (4-4) withstood sustained pressure from South (7-4-1) in the final six minutes to cap one of their best-played games of the season.
“I’d say it was our best-played game against the best team we’ve beaten,” North head coach Bob Calder said. “We’ve had a couple close losses but this was the first time we won a close one. That’s the best opponent we’ve beaten this year.”
North’s win was the first over South for the current group of seniors. Calder believed the Mustangs had won eight straight in the series before Saturday.
“I think this is one of our better wins,” Marconi said. “We played a good game and were strong in both halves. It gives us a lot of confidence.”
The Mustangs had several good looks on goal throughout the game but struggled to find the back of the net, continuing an unfortunate recent trend. After a 6-2 start to the season, the Mustangs are 1-2-1 in their last four games with just three goals scored in the losses and the tie.
“We need to figure some things out. It’s gut-check time. What areas do we have to work on to turn things around?” South head coach Abby Anderson said. “We need to improve our communication on the field. We need to improve our possession. We played a lot of hopeful balls. We’ve got to work on playing our style.”
Anderson lamented the fact that the team she saw Saturday wasn’t the same one that played defending state champ Naperville North tough in a 2-1 loss April 6. But she wasn’t taking anything away from North and defenders Arlinda Osmani, Megan Treichel, Kaitlin Gunderson and Emma Krick, who kept South’s offense in check for most of the game.
“They played better soccer than us today,” Anderson said. “They had their chances and they finished them.”