NORMAL — Success is often defined as being in the right place at the right time.

That was certainly the case for Belleville West High School junior midfielder Cassidy Vollmer in Friday's Class 3A Sectional championship game against host Normal Community.

Midway through the game's second overtime period, Vollmer was in the perfect spot to corral a rebound of a teammate's shot and return it for the winning score to give the Maroons a 2-1 victory and the sectional title.

"I was just kind of there," Vollmer said. "It all happened kind of fast and I just kicked it and hoped it went in and it did."

"Cass is a player that's been very, very solid for us all year long," said Belleville West coach Jason Mathenia. "She's very technical and very sound and she was in the right place, where she should have been and she found the back of the net."

The goal sends Belleville West and its 17-5-3 record to Tuesday's Super-sectional to face Naperville North at Lewis University in Romeoville.

NCHS bows out at 20-5-2 after a valiant effort in a hard-fought game.

"It's a heartbreaker, but I'm really proud of this group," said NCHS coach Matt Chapman. "They played with guts and their heart."

The game was delayed for approximately two hours because of a storm that moved through the area.

Prior to the delay, NCHS had taken a 1-0 lead in the game's first minute when Caelyn Steffens scored with an assist from freshman Ryann Anderson.

Mathenia said he welcomed the delay and the opportunity to regroup from what he believed was a Belleville West breakdown leading to the NCHS goal.

"We felt we made a crucial mistake on their goal," he said. "That's not typical of us to make that type of mistake. We were fortunate to have the weather delay because it allowed us more time to sort through things, to get over the mental mistake that we know we made."

Both teams had their share of scoring opportunities throughout the contest.

Belleville West eventually tied the game late in the first half when Olivia Alvarez beat an NCHS defender to the ball deep in the right corner before squaring up and launching a shot that found the left corner of goal for a 1-1 halftime tie.

"(Alvarez) is typically a defender for us, but we do utilize her from time to time in the outside midfield area because she has so much speed, is very threatening and scores some goals for us," Mathenia said.

Chapman was impressed by not only Alvarez' speed, but the quickness of the Maroons as a unit.

"They're very fast and they're very direct, so they're putting a lot of pressure on you," he said. "Every time they have the ball they're putting pressure on your back line and I thought our backs were really good. Our back line was a little banged up tonight, but we were able to do a great job."

The teams battled even up through regulation and the first ten minute ovetime period, before Vollmer's game winner with 6:40 remaining in the second overtime session.

"Everyone's exhausted at that point and at that point you're hoping that everyone's brains are working the right way and everybody's bodies are moving the right way," Chapman said. "The ball just didn't bounce our way and that's soccer sometimes. Huge credit to Belleville West. We wish them the best moving forward."

Contact Bruce Yentes at (309) 820-3391. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes


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