HINSDALE – Casey May wasn’t used to being that wide open.
The Hinsdale Central senior was man-marked by Benet’s defense in the team’s previous meeting in the regular season, and the same was the case when they met in Tuesday’s sectional semifinal at Dickinson Field.
But May had plenty of space to tally the Red Devils’ first, and as it turned out game-winning, goal in their 3-0 victory.
“Usually they have a girl right on my back, but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time,” May said.
With the win, the Red Devils advanced to the sectional championship game at 6 p.m. today. The Red Devils will face either Wheaton Warrenville South or Lyons Township for the title. Those two teams started their semifinal game Tuesday evening, but a lightning delay forced the game to be postponed a day with the score knotted at 1-1 near the end of the first overtime.
Having home field advantage in such a big game will provide a boost for Central and its slew of seniors, especially a year after they fell in the sectional championship game.
“It’s really exciting,” May said. “To have all our friends and family here and have it on our home turf is a big advantage because it makes us want to win that much more.”
May’s goal triggered on onslaught as Central (15-3-3) scored three times in less than eight minutes after struggling to gain any forward momentum in the first half. Less than five minutes into the second half, Jenn Jarmy ran onto a ball in space left of the 18-yard box, sent a pass to Madeline Engelking in the middle, who then flicked it on to a wide open May, who didn’t hesitate to shoot to open space on the right side of the net.
May had a hand in the next two goals, too. Less than two minutes after taking the lead, Meghan Schick’s pass sent May racing down the right sideline with the ball, and May crossed to Alison Cerny for the Red Devils’ second goal. Six minutes after that, May dribbled her way free from danger inside the box and sent a left-footed shot past Benet’s keeper to all but seal the outcome.
“What it came down to for us was our skill not only on the ball but off the ball,” Central coach Michael Smith said. “All three goals were set up by girls anticipating and taking chances in the final third. We talked about the final third, it’s risk vs. reward. If you take a risk and get something positive out of it, then it was worth it. The second half was all about us taking more chances.”