The sounds of sobbing and weeping coming from the women’s soccer players at Morton College showed how much a 2-1 loss on penalty kicks to Waubonsee November 2 in the Region IV semifinals hurt.
Not only were the Panthers hurting emotionally, but physically as well. Leading scorer Karen Santos fell hard on her left shoulder while going up for a 50-50 ball with six minutes left in regulation. She returned in the first overtime session, but was limited. Forward Raquel Salinas, midfielder Daisy Moreno, defender Mariah Borjas and midfielder Jackie Gutierrez also were slowed by various injuries as well.
Although the score was tied at 1 after regulation, No. 3 seed Waubonsee and No. 2 Morton College played a pretty wide-open contest with both sides producing numerous scoring opportunities. The Panthers (9-3-1) struck first with 27:57 left in the opening half when Santos blasted in a shot from 37 yards for her team-best 18th goal of the season. Waubonsee produced the equalizer nine minutes later.
Morton College goalie Emely Balbuena made two great saves in the final 30 seconds of the first 10-minute overtime to prevent Waubonsee from victory. The visiting Chiefs also had a potential game-winning shot trickle across the crease early in the second overtime.
In the penalty-kick session, Waubonsee’s first three shooters all connected and Morton College’s trio all missed. It was the first time this season Morton College was involved in a game that went to penalty kicks.
The Panthers, who are 16-6-4 the last two years, opened this season with a 1-0 win over Waubonsee in August.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Morton College women’s soccer coach Alex Cano said. “We played hard to the last minute.
They have nothing to put their heads down about. They all put their hearts on the line and had a fantastic year.”