The huge guns came out firing Friday in the opening games of the sixth annual Pekin Invitational high school girls soccer tournament at Coal Miners Park.
Two-time defending tournament champion Pekin defeated Peoria Christian 5-1 and undefeated Geneseo blanked Grant Park 8-0, helping set the stage for their showdown today.
All four teams in the tournament field will play three games in the round-robin competition, which concludes today. There are 35-minute instead of 40-minute halves and no overtime. Teams receive three points for a victory and one point for a tie.
It’ll be Pekin (7-4-1) vs. Grant Park (6-2) at 9 a.m. today, followed by Geneseo (10-0-1) vs. Peoria Christian (5-4-1) at 10:30 a.m.
The final set of games has Grant Park vs. Peoria Christian at 2 p.m. and Pekin vs. Geneseo at 3:30 p.m. The Lady Dragons are taking aim at their fifth tournament title in six years. Normal West won it in 2009.
Pekin coach Edgar Sandoval stated his team was “out of synch” most of the first half against Peoria Christian, and it cost the Lady Dragons a goal.
About 26 minutes into the half, defender Kristen Eckert dribbled more than half the length of the field and drilled home a shot to give Peoria Christian a 1-0 lead.
“That was a great effort on her part and really poor effort and communication on our end,” Sandoval said. “It lit a fire under us, but depending upon how the other games play out, that goal could cost us the championship.”
If teams tie for the tournament championship, the tie-breakers are head-to-head competition, fewest goals granted and most goals scored, in that order.
Pekin scored two quick goals after Eckert’s goal and led 2-1 at halftime. Michaela Quilty completed off a Sarah Zuecher corner kick for the equalizer and Maddie Cordts put the Lady Dragons ahead for good off an assist from Zuecher.
A Megan Campbell header made it 3-1 three minutes into the second half. Nichole Fulk assisted on the goal. Jesla Bolen and Cordts scored to give Pekin insurance.
“Once we scored, we were clicking on our cylinders and our execution was strong,” Sandoval said.
Pekin goalie Brittany Cox made three saves.
Geneseo’s Mallory Wirth scored 29 seconds into the game against Grant Park and the Lady Leafs never looked back.
Kelsey Nystrom, Geneseo’s leading scorer, had two goals. Dani Manna, Darci Dietrich, Jenny Ford, Kaylie Piekos and Monique Welch also scored for Geneseo. Keeper Emily Bozzer didn’t need to make a save.
Peoria Christian vs. Geneseo, 10:30 a.m.
Grant Park vs. Peoria Christian, 2 p.m.
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