MUNSTER | Kat Smailis wasn't going to be denied a shot at a sectional championship.
The Highland senior recorded a hat trick and added an assist to make sure the Trojans reached the final game in an 8-2 sectional semifinal win over E.C. Central Thursday.
"I'm a senior and I didn't want to lose," Smailis said.
Highland (13-3-2) will meet Munster at 2 p.m. in Saturday's final as the Mustangs beat Morton 9-0 in the nightcap on Thursday.
The Trojans started early when Smailis broke free and beat Cardinals keeper Bianca Rodriguez high for a goal at 1:34.
Smailis rocketed another goal over the top of Rodriguez to make it 2-0.
"We were really motivated for this game," Smailis said. "We were focused on playing our game and not being scared."
After an East Chicago free kick in the 29th minute, Sandra Lazano found Jackie Rodriguez with a pass in a crowded box. Rodriguez took the Cardinals' first shot of the night and notched the first goal.
That just made Smailis angry.
"That goal pretty much just made me want to win even more," Smailis said. "I just wanted to do it for my team."
The Trojans sharp shooter came back with another goal less than two minutes later for the hat trick.
Then, Smailis' throw-in found Michelle Geissler who found the back of the net, making the score 4-1 at the break.
"I thought we did well," Trojan coach Gordon Walker said. "We stretched them out. I thought we played them well."
Lazano got a goal of her own on a set piece off of a Cardinals free kick in the 55th minute. It was East Chicago's second and final shot of the game.
"I thought (E.C.C.) did a terrific job," Walker said. "That's a much-improved program over there."
Geissler, Stephanie Sknerski, Nikki Goodeve and Frankie Angotti added Highland goals in the second half. Shannon Dempsey had three assists for the Trojans.
In the second game, Jenna Pagane scored first for Munster and Allyson Roller scored in consecutive minutes, both goals assisted by Kori Kirby. Eleni Agelopoulos's goal in the 12th minute put the Mustangs (13-5) up 4-0 early. Before it was over, Morgan Newton would tally two goals and Agelopoulos would notch her second goal while Lauren Grunewald and Hannah Marriot would each score, as well.
The Mustangs out-shot the Governors 20-0.