No. 6 Center Point-Urbana marked No. 8 Solon and spent the afternoon chasing and pushing them around Monday in the Class 2A regional final at Kingston Stadium.
CPU won 1-0, advancing to the state tournament for the third straight season.
“We knew they were going to do that; we knew they had a fast defense,” Solon coach John Tucker said. “We just couldn’t put it together for some reason.”
CPU (17-3) had a gameplan that focused on shutting down the Spartans’ top goal-scorer, Allison McKinnie. She had 35 goals in 17 games coming into Monday.
“We’ve played Solon for three years now; we knew how physical they play,” CPU co-coach Rich Plante said. “Allison McKinnie is awesome. During our practices, we’d name a girl Allison. And we’d have her go in and push and push on other players, and we’d mark her.
“It seemed to work today.”
McKinnie felt the special attention.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” McKinnie said. “CPU isn’t exactly a team that plays fair. They play dirty. It was hard for us.”
There is a fine line between rough and fair and rough and dirty. The Pointers didn’t get any yellow or red cards in pursuit of the shutout.
CPU senior Jesscia Wooldridge said their defense was spot on.
“I played a little bit deeper and Morgan Croell played phenomenal,” Wooldridge said. “I told her you cannot let No. 11 (McKinnie) turn.”
The best chance Solon had in the game came about 23 minutes left in the first half. Anna Sydel passed it ahead to McKinnie, who hit a shot off the left bar of the goal.
“We had our chances,” Tucker said. “They are a good team with a good defense. We just couldn’t put it together.”
The Pointers got the only goal of the game with 32:21 left to play. Madeline Roseke played the ball into the box where it tipped over to freshman Arika Wooldridge, who powered it in from about 10 yards out.
“One lucky goal,” Tucker said. “That’s how these games unfortunately end. It’s heartbreaking for the girls, who played so well.”
Right after that score, Solon’s Madi Durr had the ball in the box with the CPU keeper on the ground, but her shot went wide.
Unable to put together long passing combinations, the Spartans (14-5) relied on trying some long-distance shots to try and equalize, but the Pointers were ready for them.
“It was about being organized,” Wooldridge said. “And talking defensively. When we don’t talk to each other, we lose our organization.”
It was the 12th shutout of the season for CPU, and its fourth in a row.
“We have had a solid defense all year long,” Plante said. “They are just rocks. Most of my girls are seniors. They’ve got a lot of playing time together and know what each other is doing. They know their positions.”
Solon says goodbye to five seniors but returns plenty to continue the school’s quest to reach the state tournament for the first time against next year.
“We had a great season,” Tucker said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these girls.”