Lady Knights dominate over final 40 minutes in shutout win over Maplewood

Eisenhower’s Aleea Giese battles a Maplewood defender during their match at Eisenhower High School, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Giese had a pair of assists to help the Knights to a 4-0 win over the Tigers.

Lydia Giannini’s two second half goals broke open what had been a 1-goal game at the half and powered Eisenhower to a Region 3 win over visiting Maplewood Monday.

Madison Mohney and Caroline Smelko also scored in the Knights’ 4-0 victory, and the defense held the Tigers without a shot on goal in the second half.

“We’ve been focusing on our passing,” Eisenhower coach Diana Elmquist said. “We’re working hard towards playing with more possession and not just going to the goal.”

Mohney picked up the lone tally of the first half. Smelko fired a free kick that hit off the crossbar. Mohney was there to collect the rebound and put the ball to the back of the net.

The Knights (1-1, 1-0 Region 3) controlled possession for the early part of the second half. Just over 10 minutes in, Patricia Bortz beat a defender to the ball and passed to Aleea Giese. Giese centered to Giannini who fired the ball at the net. The ball rolled just beyond the reach of Maplewood’s (1-2, 0-1) keeper and into the net for a 2-0 Eisenhower lead.

Eisenhower’s Lydia Giannini pushes her second goal of the second half past the Maplewood keeper during their game at Eisenhower High School, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Giannini’s goals broke open what had been a 1-goal game as the Knights went on to defeat the Tigers, 4-0.Three of the goals came in the second half.

She nearly put her second in just two minutes later, but the ball sailed up and over the crossbar on the shot.

With 15 minutes to go in the game, Giese got open on a breakaway down the left side. She took the ball all the way down and centered to Smelko for a shot. The keeper was able to turn Smelko’s shot away, but the rebound went right to Giannini’s waiting foot. She pushed the ball past the keeper and in to make it 3-0.

“We’re trying to break some old habits,” Elmquist said. “We’re not chasing the ball and playing small ball.”

Five minutes later, Smelko closed out the scoring. She brought the ball to center and, feeling pressure coming from the defense, got a shot away. The ball went just over the keeper’s outstretched fingers and in.

In addition to the goal, Smelko finished with two assists. Giese also had a pair of helpers in the win.

Eisenhower’s Caroline Smelko lines up a shot during the second half of a game against Maplewood at Eisenhower High School, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Smelko scored on the shot and the Knights defeated the Tigers, 4-0.

Faith Johnson and Katie Elmquist teamed up for the shutout in net. Johnson, seeing her first action in 232 days due to injury, had to make a single save in the first half, while Elmquist wasn’t tested in the second.

Diana Elmquist understands the importance of getting Johnson back to form quickly.

“You need experience in that position,” she said. “Katie stepped up in a big way, but she also recognizes the opportunity to get experience.

“The girls made a committment to go further in the playoffs,” Elmquist continued. “They want the District 10 championship. Our practices have been intense and it showed tonight.”

Eisenhower travels to Kane Wednesday.