URBANA — When Normal West High School's girls soccer team went into overtime with Springfield during last year's regional final, it was Audrey Marsaglia who delivered the winning goal.
So with Friday's Class 2A Urbana Sectional championship match between West and the Senators headed to an extra 20 minutes, did Marsaglia think about that?
"It didn't come to mind," she said, matter of factly. "I didn't want my team to go into PKs (penalty kicks) again. I'm fully confident if we were to, but I knew we wanted to get this finalized."
Marsaglia made sure that happened. The junior midfielder took a nice feed from Madison Bergeron and beat Springfield goalie Kalynn Clearwater with 4:47 left in the second overtime to lift the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory.
Two goals from Marsaglia and some stellar saves by junior Bekah Nielsen helped West secure the seventh sectional title in school history. West improved to 19-5-3 and advanced to Tuesday's 6 p.m. Rochester Super-Sectional against Waterloo, which beat defending state champion Troy Triad in penalty kicks at the Marion Sectional.
Springfield (16-10-1) dominated the second half after West held a 1-0 lead at the intermission. But the Wildcats used 19 saves by Nielsen, some by her fingertips, to hang on.
"I feel like we don't want it to be our last game," said Nielsen. "The seniors are going to leave, and every game we play we know it could be our last. We push through the heat and the pain. So many girls are injured on our team, but they don't know that because they play."
West coach Val Walker thought the effects of Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in penalty kicks began to show in the second half.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead with 21:06 left in the first half when Marsaglia drilled a shot past Clearwater off an assist by Olivia Teplitz-Crawford. West missed a couple good opportunities to add another goal or two.
Springfield seemed to awake after the intermission. The Senators kept the ball deep in the Wildcats' territory and gained a 1-all tie on Maria Jorquera's goal with 27:06 left.
Julia Marsaglia weaved through a couple Senators and found a streaking Rylee Billington, who converted with 25:12 remaining to give West a 2-1 lead. That lasted all of 19 seconds as Springfield's Cadence Brenham quickly tallied for another tie.
"Playing that 100-minute game Tuesday, I just think we weren't recovered physically or mentally," said Walker. "Soccer is played in the brain. If we're fatigued mentally, the decision-making or movement off the ball or spacing is not all ideal."
Springfield nearly took the lead twice in the final five minutes, including with 16 seconds left, but Nielsen saved the Wildcats' season with some spectacular goaltending.
"With Bekah Nielsen and our back five, they really hung in there," said Walker. "Their outside forwards gave us everything we could handle. We bent, but we didn't break as much. That was the theme of the second half."
Neither team had a good chance in the first 10-minute overtime period. It appeared penalty kicks were forthcoming until Bergeron's pinpoint pass found Audrey Marsaglia.
"Maddie had an amazing through ball," said Marsaglia. "I had a good place to take a one-touch shot. They have a great keeper, but it happened to go on the right side."
The Wildcats, who were outshot 21-10, will be searching for their fourth trip to the state finals Tuesday.
After the last two matches, anything seems possible.
"It's a credit to these girls and their mentality," said Walker. "We always stress mental toughness, and these last couple games you've had to have a good helping of mental toughness to stay the course."