Falcons prepare for trip with DVC win over Blackhawks
By Eddie Burns
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It would have been easy for the Wheaton North players to look past West Aurora, with a trip to play matches in South Carolina and Georgia on deck for next week’s spring break, but the Falcons did not.
Thanks to a solid team effort Wheaton North scored a 4-1 DuPage Valley Conference victory at West Aurora on Thursday afternoon.
“We played excellent,” said Falcons senior midfielder Tiffany Traxinger, who scored once and added two assists. “This was by far our best match to date. It was a conference match, and it was physical and intense, but it was good for us to get a win.”
Traxinger and Lexi Pelafas each scored in the opening half to provide the Falcons (2-1, 1-1 DVC) with a 2-0 lead at intermission.
West Aurora (1-2, 0-1) slowly started to turn the tide near the end of the first half, but the Falcons quickly squashed any momentum when Sydney Sharkey scored to give the guests a three-goal lead less than two minutes into the second half.
“It was very uplifting to get that third goal because (West Aurora) really started to put together some nice runs,” Traxinger said. “It was important for us to come right out and get another goal and that is what we did.”
Pelafas and Traxinger connected for the Falcons’ fourth and final goal off a corner restart in the 54th minute.
The Blackhawks had difficulty generating a lot of scoring chances, but West Aurora did manage to score with 62 seconds remaining in the match when Brynn Lehman scored a goal off a Jessica Saffell corner attempt.
“It was nice to get that late goal, and it boosted our confidence a little bit,” said Saffell, who also has three goals early on this season. “If we score that goal maybe 15-20 minutes earlier, maybe we could have mounted a comeback of sorts, but we didn’t.”
Saffell also generated West Aurora’s other best chance when she tested Wheaton North goalie Jessica Kiely from distance, but Kiely was up to the challenge.
The match was West Aurora’s first at home and on turf this season.
“I thought we started out very well considering it was our first match on the turf, but we made a few too many mistakes and they caught up to us,” Saffell said.
The Blackhawks have scored six goals this season.
“We’ve been able to score,” Saffell said, “but to win in this league, we have to be able to score more than one goal.”
West Aurora did use two different players in goal with sophomore Sam O’Brien replacing senior starter Cadmiel Rocha after Rocha was injured during Wheaton North’s third goal.
O’Brien was tested and she responded by registering six saves.
The Blackhawks featured six freshmen and sophomores in their lineup.
“We had a rough start in conference, but once we get a few more games under our belt and allow the younger players to get acclimated we should be OK,” Saffell said.
Meanwhile, the Falcons hope to develop some additional team bonding on their upcoming trip before they return to conference play on April 3 against Naperville North.
“Every game we play we continue to get better and the hope is that by the time we face the Napervilles that we will be in tip-top shape,” Traxinger said.