HAMMOND | The 9-0 win Hammond got over Morton Tuesday clinched a Great Lakes Athletic Conference championship and completed an undefeated regular season.
But it also validated a program that looked to be down and out just a few years ago.
"We've had a lot of challenges, a lot of road blocks, but I believed in these girls this whole season they believed in themselves," Hammond coach Mayra Rodriguez-Alvarez said. "I'm very proud of them."
It was only two years ago that Rodriguez-Alvarez was told that if she didn't secure funds, Hammond wouldn't have a soccer team. Overall success was becoming difficult to find, as well.
"We lost a lot of support," Rodriguez-Alvarez said. "We had to get it out of own guts and pull through."
When the buzzer sounded Tuesday, the Wildcats let loose a cascade of tears, screams and smiles as they jumped and hugged at midfield.
"We just wanted this so bad. It feels great," Wildcat senior Erica Munoz said. "This program has been building and to go undefeated the whole season is really special."
After having suffered two winless seasons, Munoz said it was important for the senior class to leave a legacy the younger players could look up to.
"It's my senior year and this is all I've looked forward to," she said. "This was a lot of really hard work."
Hammond (9-0, 6-0) got hat tricks from Munoz and Elizabeth Navarro. Georgina Diaz had two goals and Alondra Munoz scored another. All but two of those goals came in the second half, with five in the last 20 minutes.
"We know who's in our sectional and we're ready," Rodriguez-Alvarez said. "We're the sleeper here. We're the underdog."
"I think they're already thinking about regionals and they should be thinking about us."