CHESTERTON — Having already defeated other top conference teams Crown Point and Valparaiso, Chesterton already had a leg up on the Duneland Athletic Conference title heading into Tuesday's game with Lake Central.
Now it has even more of one.
The Times No. 1 Trojans put on an impressive display on both sides of the ball to earn a 3-0 home win over the No. 5 Indians.
"They played unbelievable," Chesterton coach Jason Conway said. "We have an expectation for the style of play we want to play and the girls executed it tremendously. We always talk about being able to play a good defensive game and what that does for our chances to win.
Chesterton (9-3, 5-0) has rattled off eight wins in a row with two conference games remaining between it and a DAC title.
"Ultimately, we have two more games to go that we need to take care of and have to finish those. ... if you look ahead, you never know what can happen," Conway said. "The girls have to keep the right mindset that the conference is ours to win and take care of it. If they play like they did (Tuesday), I like our chances."
Carley Perkins shot in the 12th minute was saved on the near post by L.C. keeper Madeleine Radowski, seemingly setting the tone for the rest of the match. Perkins put on another attempt five minutes later, followed by a shot on goal from Addy Joiner a minute later. Joiner's next shot in the 20th minute off a cross from Brinley Fowler gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
"We got great individual efforts from Carley, Addy and everyone up top. It was a really good team win for us," Conway said. "We work on good combination play and playing the ball quick and getting in behind the defense and getting our numbers up. Our offense starts with that style of play and the girls having a lot of trust in one another is a huge part of it too."
Lake Central's best chances of the night came in the opening 40 as Lauren Bulf took a through ball from Stephanie Dijak only to have Trojans keeper Molly McLaughlin come off her line and take it off her foot. Bulf would feed Adrianna Naumoski in the 32nd minute for another chance, but again, McLaughlin was there. The junior keeper made six saves to earn the clean sheet.
"Our back line played incredible and Molly McLaughlin had her game of the year, so far," Conway said. "She kept us in it early. L.C. had a couple of chances in the first half that they could've scored on to make this a completely different game. L.C. is a very good team and they can finish, but Molly really shut that down."
The Trojans have not surrendered a goal in their last five matches.
"We've put Courtney Krol in the back and that's made us really strong defensively," Conway said. "Once we came back from the South Bend St. Joseph Invite, we felt like that was something we needed to do and we're seeing the rewards of having Madi (Callaway) and Courtney's presence back there.
After a handful of chances in the first half, Perkins finally found the back of the net in the 53rd minute for a 2-0 lead.
"I was getting there, but I just couldn't get the goal," she said. "I didn't even think the one I scored was going in but you just have to take the shot and hope it goes in. It was a tough angle, but being left-footed helps shooting at those weird angles."
Callaway added the third Trojans goal three minutes later on a free-kick from Krol.
For Lake Central and coach Shawn Thomas, the focus moves to the postseason with the DAC title out of reach.
"That one hurts," he said. "Chesterton has a couple of games left but I think they're the class of the DAC right now and it showed tonight. They outworked us out there and the better team won."
"We felt like we had a good game-plan going in and had opportunities to score but we couldn't figure out what offsides meant. That's something we have to work on in practice going forward towards the tournament."
Madeline Radowski had eight saves for Lake Central (8-3-1, 3-2).