Metea Valley looked to history only to watch its chances suffer a serious blow when its best player went out with a knee injury just 12 minutes into its match against Plainfield North.
With senior Jenna Kentgen watching on the sideline, junior midfielder Alena Sidwell delivered by lofting a ball inside the far post in the 43rd minute as the No. 7 Mustangs stunned No. 6 Plainfield North 1-0 in a Class 3A Naperville North Sectional semifinal Wednesday at Metea Valley in Aurora.
The Mustangs (17-3-2) advanced to their first sectional final in program history to meet district rival and top-ranked Waubonsie Valley Friday night at Naperville North. Stadium availability prompted the switch to Metea Valley for the sectional semifinals.
In the defensive oriented game that saw limited scoring opportunities on each side, Sidwell's goal came three minutes into the second half.
"To be honest, I don't even remember who passed me the ball," she said.
"But I saw a space open up and I decided to get a touch on it because I saw the goalie was giving me the far post."
Plainfield North (20-3-3) beat the Mustangs 2-1 in late March.
"An unbelievable effort," Metea Valley coach Patrick Feulner said. "We lost Kentgen 12 minutes in. To beat them we had to use a lot of players, and we had a lot of kids step up. To contain those guys and that No. 7 [Heather Handwork], you're doing a great job.
"We thought we could play with them, but we didn't think we could do it without No. 22 [Kentgen]."
The leading scorer in school history, Kentgen tried to get loose and run at halftime to possibly return to play.
"She felt she could run striaght, but when she tried to cut, she didn't feel right," Feulner said. "We didn't want to chance it."
Kentgen's availability for the sectional final is unknown. She is scheduled to visit the doctor on Thursday.
Plainfield North junior defender Brooke Polonus had the best-scoring chance for the Tigers late in the first half. On a direct kick from the Mustangs' 20, she alertly took advantage of Metea Valley freshman keeper Amy Ahern out of the goal trying to set up the defensive wall.
Polonus took a quick kick and the ball deflected off the crossbar.
"She caught them off-guard but unfortunately she caught the rest of our team off-guard, too," Plainfield North coach Jane Crowe. "It happens."
Handwork, a Marquette-recruit who ended her steller career with the loss, scored the game-winner in the regular season match. Metea Valley bottled her up and rarely gave Handwork available space.
Like Metea Valley, Plainfield North entered the game never having won a sectional game in school history.
"We didn't work together to create chances," Crowe said. "Give credit to them defensively, but we took ourselves out of the game with too much one-on-one play.
"They finished their chance and we didn't."