GRANGER TWP. — Experience can be the biggest motivator in girls soccer. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall as long as you come back with purpose.
That’s what Aurora did Wednesday to end Highland’s undefeated streak and get a leg up in the Suburban League American Conference race with a 2-1 victory.
A team that has faced adversity before, the Greenmen (4-2-2, 2-0-1) snapped a 1-1 tie when Sarah Nemeth headed in a direct kick from Emma Krondorfer with 15:10 remaining.
“At the beginning of the season we were always the team on the other end of a 0-0 game where the other team would score,” Nemeth said. “We didn’t have a good start. We lost our first two and tied our next two. Our big problem was that other teams would score.
“We gathered the team, sat them down and said, ‘Guys, we’re a good team. We can come back from this.’ We knew they put up eight on Kent (Roosevelt). We almost expected Highland to score on us. We knew we could snap out of it and get it back.”
The Hornets (8-1, 2-1) showed a little bounce back themselves in a contest they dominated statistically.
But two set pieces did Highland in. The first came on a penalty kick that Taylor Burick converted with 31:57 remaining.
It marked the first time the Hornets trailed this season, but it didn’t last long. Kalle Hotes bombed a shot from 32 yards that beat Morgan Demagall with 27:49 remaining.
Highland controlled most of play after that, but Nemeth’s goal proved to be too much.
“We just need to know that we were the better team and that we need to take advantage of the opportunities we have,” Hornets defender Hanna Haneberg said. “We need to come out stronger the next time.
“We could have played with them. We need to be smarter with our plays in the back and work it out as a team. We can grow a lot. We learned how bad this felt. We know what we need to work harder in. It will make us stronger.”
That was the overwhelming thought after Highland lost a game where it hammered Demagall with eight shots on net to only three by Aurora.
It wasn’t so much the Hornets losing the ball at midfield as it was Highland not putting that last touch on the ball in scoring opportunities.
“We talked about it before: We have to finish,” Highland coach Bill Zufall said. “We didn’t finish our opportunities or our set plays. It’s one reason to me the next four games are playoff games. We have Aurora, Copley, Holy Name and Wadsworth. They’re all big contenders and that’s what is going to get you ready for the playoffs.”
If there is a silver lining to the loss, it’s that it came at the midway point of the regular season. While the Hornets were a bit emotional afterward, they also were determined to learn from the loss and push forward.
“We’ll just come harder and work in practice and take it to Copley next week,” Hotes said. “Being undefeated so far, we kind of needed this to show us what taking a loss felt like. We’re just going to come back, remember the feeling and work harder.”
The Highland junior varsity won 3-0. Maria Vitko scored twice and Lilly Latkovic added a goal. Olivia Scavuzzo and Jenna Easterwood shared time in goal.
Aurora 2, Highland 1
AURORA 0 2 — 2
HIGHLAND 0 1 — 1
A — Taylor Burick (penalty kick), 31:57.
H — Kalle Hotes, 27:49.
A — Sarah Nemeth (Emma Krondorfer), 15:10.
Shotsongoal — Aurora 3, Highland 8. Cornerkicks — Aurora 1, Highland 1. Saves — Morgan Demagall (A) 7, Allie Mazzaro (H) 1. Records — Aurora (4-2-2, 2-0-1), Highland (8-1, 2-1). Juniorvarsity — Highland 3, Aurora 0.