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Heather Banis, Shepard withstand Marist barrage

05/12/2014, 7:30pm CDT
By Steve Millar

Heather Banis made seven saves, six after halftime, to help host Shepard hold off an aggressive Marist team and salvage a 0-0 tie in Palos Heights.

With Marist pounding shot after shot at her in the second half Monday, Shepard goalie Heather Banis stood tall.

Banis made seven saves, six after halftime, to help the Astros hold off the RedHawks’ surge and salvage a 0-0 tie in Palos Heights.

“It was really good,” Banis said. “Marist is a big rival so it feels great to get a shutout against them. They put a lot of pressure on in the second half, but we hung in there.”

Banis’ best save came with seven minutes left in the match when Marist’s Grace Callahan slipped a pass to Mary Brennan in the middle of the box. Brennan fired a laser, but Banis was able to get low and get her hands on the shot.

The RedHawks (8-7-5), with the wind at their backs in the second half, nearly broke through a couple times prior to that. Banis stopped a Emily Dignan strike on a free kick from just outside the box and Claire Collevy, after making a nifty move around a defender, was also denied by Banis.

“We really picked up our intensity in the second half and attacked a lot,” Brennan said. “Going into the playoffs, we really want to play like we did in the second half for a full game.”

It was the regular-season finale for Marist, which is seeded sixth in the Class 3A Andrew Sectional and will take on Marian Catholic in its playoff opener May 20.

Shepard (12-5-2), the No. 5 seed in the same sectional, plays its final regular-season game against T.F. United on Wednesday needing a win to take the outright South Suburban Red title and avoid sharing it with Reavis.

“We really want to win conference (outright), so that’s a big game and then we’ll get ready for the playoffs,” Banis said.

Shepard had a pair of quality chances in the first half as Kelly Evancich fired a shot off the crossbar and Marist goalie Ashley Smialek made a big save on a Tala Tadros shot.

Smialek got plenty of help from her back line of Claire Walsh, Erin Rowe, Kelly Ferguson and Emily Dignan.

Rachel Libera, Abby Newsome, Megan Brady and Aracely Reyes led the Astros’ defense.

“We’re a young team and we haven’t been able to put two strong halves together,” Marist coach Jen Germino said. “That’s what we need to do in the playoffs.”

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