Fenwick’s Elisabeth Ruggiero (8) dribbles past Payton Preps’ defenders during the Friars’ 1-0 win on May 28. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

The Fenwick High School girls soccer team pulled off an upset May 28 at the Dominican Priory as the Friars defeated top-seeded Payton Prep 1-0 to win their own IHSA Class 2A sectional.

Fenwick senior co-captain Kate Henige had an early goal wiped out due to offside, and the Friars and Grizzlies engaged in a tight defensive struggle. But senior Natalie LoGiudice scored the only goal Fenwick (12-6-2) would need when she tapped in a cross off of a corner kick by Emily Ortiz with 8.2 seconds left before halftime.

“I was just in the moment,” LoGiudice said. “The ball went past our offense and came to me, and I just kicked it. I don’t remember it going in, but it gave us a lot of confidence going into the second half.”

“What a lift that was,” said Fenwick coach Craig Blazer. “It was really good execution and was huge.”

The Friars’ defense did the rest, not allowing Payton to generate much of an attack. Goalies Morgan Fisher and Audrey Hinrichs were never truly threatened throughout as they combined for the clean sheet.

“We couldn’t keep the ball as much as we normally do, and that’s a credit to Payton,” Blazer said. “But they were never able to get behind us and in a position where Morgan or Audrey had to make a save.”

“It feels amazing. All of our hard work paid off,” said Henige. “After we scored, we knew they were going to come at us hard in the second half, and so we had to focus on our defense. We eliminated their crosses and restricted [Payton] to long passes, which really helped because they couldn’t do much with them.”

LoGiudice believes Fenwick is playing its best soccer of the year at the right time.

“Team-bonding things we do together outside of practice help us click as a team,” she said. “We feel more comfortable playing with each other now than we did at the beginning of the season.”

Blazer was pleased for LoGiudice, Henige and the other seniors who have had numerous challenges the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Abby [Rogowski], Audrey, Julia [Cianci], Kate, Natalie, all of them have done a good job. They’ve led the way and showed the others how to get it done,” Blazer said.

Up next for the Friars is a supersectional match with De La Salle at Brooks College Prep in Chicago on May 31, after press time. A win would send Fenwick downstate for the third time in school history. The Friars were fourth in Class 1A in 2004 and third in 2A in 2013.

(Left to right): Fenwick girls soccer’s Maddie Rogowski, Caroline Henige, assistant coach Esme Torres, Abby Rogowski, and Kate Henige pose with the sectional plaque May 28. The Friars defeated Payton Prep 1-0 to advance to an IHSA Class 2A supersectional. (Melvin Tate/Contributor)


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