NORMAL – For the second consecutive year, Lemont's girls soccer team had to travel two-plus hours to play Normal Community West on its home field in a Class 2A supersectional.
Unfortunately for the Indians, this time around provided a different result.
Despite having more of the quality scoring chances, Lemont departed central Illinois with a 2-0 loss that denied the team back-to-back trips to the state semifinals.
"Going down there, which is a two hour drive for us, is challenging," Lemont coach Rick Prangen said. "Playing down there is not the easiest thing to do. It's not the reason we lost, but it didn't make our job any easier. I'd really appreciate a neutral site to play, but that was not something that was given to us so we just have to do better."
Normal scored on a counterattack in the first half and added a penalty kick goal as insurance after the intermission.
"Both of their goals came against the run of play," Prangen said. "We missed some chances that we usually finish and they finished their chances. It was a little disappointing because I thought we were the better side."
The loss brought an end to the outstanding prep careers of midfielder Kim Jerantowski and goalie Kelly Fritz, four year varsity starters and future Division I players.
"You look at their record, three supersectionals, two trips to the [state semifinals]," the coach said. "Pretty close to 80 wins in their prep careers or maybe more. They helped carry on the tradition of our program and certainly added to it. They are two very special players and they've put us in a position that hopefully future generations can live up to."
Jerantowski will continue her career at Northwestern while Fritz will be part of the inaugural women's team at UIC.
"Kim as a field player is the best I've ever had and one of the best players I've seen play this game. Very rarely do players carry a team as much as she did," Prangen said. "And Kelly is one of the best leaders I've ever had. She was the heart and soul of the team and a good goalie on top of that."
The Indians lose eight seniors in all, four of whom were starters, but should field another strong team in 2015, which will be bolstered by a strong freshman class that includes Jerantowski's younger sister.
"Some will depend on what girls come back healthy," Prangen said, "but we are probably looking at having at least five to seven starters coming back.
Lemont finished with a 23-2 record.