PARK FOREST | Marian Catholic's Christina Franzese picked the right game to score her first two goals of the season.
Franzese, who has been hampered by injuries this season, scored one first half and one second half goal to help lift the Spartans to a 3-0 win over Crete-Monee in the 2A Rich East Regional semifinals. Marian Catholic's Hailey Losselyong scored one goal and added two assists on both of Franzese's scores.
"It was really exciting," Franzese said of the win. "Coming back from injuries, I had so much energy and was so excited. My mind said, 'I was going to win'."
Franzese has battled injuries for much of the 2013 season, including tendonitis in her heal, a calf strain, and a bruised toe.
"I've been out for a couple months," Franzese said. "We were all pumped, and we were all ready. I've very proud of my team. They worked really hard, and we deserved it."
Marian Catholic (4-13-3) seized control of the match after Losselyong's goal midway through the first half. Crete-Monee, which had chances early in the first half, was unable to answer, and the Spartan defense took care of keeping the ball out of the Spartan end the remainder of the match. Sarah Sieracki recorded three saves in goal for the Spartans to get the shutout.
"We looked good in the first twenty minutes," Crete-Monee coach Julian Lagunas said. "We were moving the ball, and we had some good chances. Then they got one, and after that, I don't know what happened to us. We just completely fell apart."
Marian Catholic coach Nasser Shanhtaji said his defense quickly realized the need to contain Crete-Monee forward, Adrianna Vera, after Vera was given scoring chances in the first half.
"I give a lot of credit to our defense," Shanhtaji said. "Their number ten was a dangerous player so containing her was something we emphasized a lot at halftime. I think our defenders did a much better job in the second half neutralizing her."
The Spartans will move on to the the Rich East Regional championship match Friday at 4 p.m. where they will face regional favorite Lincoln-Way West.
"We just need intensity and talking," Franzese said of Friday's final. "The same things we did today. Accuracy. If we play the same way we did today, a little bit more intensity, we'll be good."