EAST CHICAGO | Hammond may have many of its girls soccer players on the honor roll, but on Thursday night, the Wildcats let their feet do the talking.
Behind the strength of two goals from senior midfielder Alondra Munoz – 27 seconds apart from each other – the Wildcats defeated Clark 3-1 in the semifinals of the Class 2A E.C. Central Sectional.
Sophomore defender Jacqueline Tirado added a goal in the second half.
The two quick goals wound up being the deciding factor.
"We have had quick turnarounds before; we have won games in the last 16 seconds and 20 seconds in games before," Hammond coach Mayra Rodriguez-Alvarez said.
Munoz's first goal game came in the 43rd minute when she broke through the Clark defense. After keeper Melissa Dvojacki was lured out of the goal, Munoz was able to take advantage of on a wide-open shot.
Clark used a strategy that has a big-risk-big-reward factor when implementing it.
In the middle of the first half, the Pioneers brought up their defenders up a little more than usual, which ultimately paid off for them in the beginning.
Forcing Hammond to cover more space from sideline to sideline, junior midfielder Paola Gonzalez was able to spring free and head one in during the 37th minute after Clark controlled the ball for most of the first half.
Hammond (5-6) recorded seven shots in the first half, but none of them were on goal.
"This team knows how to get in a hole, but they also know how to get out of it," Rodriguez-Alvarez said. "It's all mental with this team, and we know what's on the line."
In the nightcap, EC Central (1-15) picked a great time to get its first win of the season, as the Cardinals edged Morton 1-0.
Senior midfielder Andrea Ramirez broke a scoreless tie at the 54:54 mark after she managed to slip free on a kick that was cleared. She put one past Morton senior keeper Jackie Cervantes from 8 yards out.
Morton (5-9) had a shot in the 70th minute, but sophomore forward Eli Barajas' offering on a breakaway went wide right.
The championship is at 11 a.m. Saturday.