A six-goal second half sent the Alton Marquette Explorers to the sectional final on Tuesday, June 8, with a 9-0 win over Litchfield at Gordon Moore Park in Alton. The Purple Panthers hung with the Explorers for much of the first half and trailed just 1-0 until goals by Caroline Stephan and Aela Scruggs made it 3-0 at the midway point of the period.
Litchfield keeper Becky Painter and the Panther defense would keep the Explorers from growing their lead and had a solid chance with 16 minutes to play when Izzy Ray fed Sofia Ray in front of the goal. The younger of the two siblings would try to get a foot on the ball, but Marquette goalkeeper Josie Keller came out and smothered the shot to end the threat.
Any hopes of a comeback would be ended early as the Explorers put on a full on assault on the Litchfield net. Just 15 seconds into the second half, Marquette got goal number four, followed quickly by goals five, six and seven, all of which came in the first six minutes of the period.
The seventh goal cut time in half, but didn’t stop Marquette’s offensive assault. They would score again to make it 8-0 at the 15:38 mark, then added on a ninth off a free kick from 35 yards out that found the miniscule space between Painter’s outstretch hand and the crossbar.
Litchfield’s chances would be minimal as the ball remained on the other side of the field for most of the second half, but when chances did arise, the Explorers defense and Keller were there to snuff them out.
With the win, Marquette moves on to play Roxana in the sectional championship game on Friday, June 11, after the Shells beat Carlinville 4-0 on Tuesday.
With the loss, Litchfield finishes the season with a record of 9-4, marking the 20th straight season that the Lady Panthers have been .500 or better.
June 8 at Alton
Litchfield 0 0 - 0
Marquette 3 6 - 9
Goals: Marquette - Emma Anselm 2, Madelyn Smith 1, Caroline Stephan 1, Alea Scruggs 1, Jillian Nelson 1, Haley Williams 1, Clare Antrainer 1, Hanna Marshall 1. Assists: Marquette - Emma Anselm 3, Madelyn Smith 3, Jillian Nelson 1, Aela Scruggs 1. Goalkeepers: Litchfield - Becky Painter; Marquette - Josie Keller.
Records: Litchfield (9-4); Marquette (12-6-1).