Two seasons without a conference championship wouldn’t register as a drought for most programs, but Sandburg girls soccer isn’t most programs, and the Eagles were hungry to get back atop the SouthWest Suburban Blue throne for the first time since 2011.
The Eagles finished their ascension Wednesday night, but it wasn’t easy. Stagg grabbed an early lead and held it until Sandburg exploded for three goals over the final 26:17 for a 3-1 win in the annual Red Card Cancer match in Palos Hills.
“After not winning it two years in a row [Lockport won it both years], it feels good to finally have it back,” Sandburg coach Desi Vuillaume said. “We had a tough first half and we talked at halftime about how even good teams have bad halves. We definitely responded in the second half.”
After Sam Milwit’s goal tied it, the Eagles (9-3-1, 5-0) scored twice in the final 4:15 to outlast the Chargers (4-6-2, 2-2).
On Sandburg’s fifth corner kick of the second half – the first four failed to produce a goal – Emily Osoba’s cross was batted around the box by multiple players before finding its way to Jennifer Olsen, who charged at the far post and headed it home.
“I just rushed in and got my head on it,” Olsen, a sophomore, said. “Playing Stagg, it’s a big game and especially when you’re younger, you know you have to step up.”
Christine Szymanski, a freshman playing just her third varsity game, put the finishing touches on the victory, scoring an insurance goal off a Rachel Mokersky cross with 2:25 to go.
“At halftime, our coaches gave us a great talk and got our intensity up,” Szymanski said. “It was a total team effort for us.”
Stagg struck first in the 20th minute when Hannah Yandel made a strong move into the box and was taken down, drawing a penalty. Allison Stefan converted the penalty kick.
“I’m proud of the way our girls battled,” Stagg coach Chris Campos said. “We talked about playing hard and not worrying about the result. It came down to us giving Sandburg too many corners and too many opportunities. A team as good as them will make you pay for that.”
The game, a fundraiser for cancer research, was played in honor of the late Cheryl Kaim, a mother of three Stagg soccer alums, who died in 2011 after a battle with cancer.