Blackhawks bounce back from slow start to win second straight


By Paul LaTour

A little more than 16 minutes had elapsed when Priscilla Diaz implored her West Aurora teammates to start playing better.

The Blackhawks already trailed by a goal and looked lethargic against winless Plainfield East at West Aurora on Tuesday.

From her backline position, Diaz shouted, "Wake up, white, wake up. Take a shot."

It didn't happen right away -- in fact it took about another 20 minutes -- but eventually the Blackhawks responded.

They erased the early deficit to take a 5-1 victory, their second win in as many days during the five-team, round-robin West Aurora tournament.

Sophomore Jessica Saffell recorded her first career hat trick and junior Nina Jones scored twice to pace the Blackhawks.

"We weren't having a very good game," said Diaz, one of West's four seniors. "We came out a little cocky. We got a little ahead of ourselves.

"Every ball I cleared (we) just looked at it. Every ball in the air they wanted more than we did."

Thankfully for the Blackhawks (2-6-2), that didn't last long against the Bengals (0-10), who are a first-year program.

Jones, who scored her first goal of the season in West's 3-0 win over Streamwood on Monday, sparked the team with her goals five minutes apart late in the first half.

Her first goal came with 5:54 remaining with a shot that ricocheted down off the crossbar and into the goal to tie it 1-1. Carla Lopez got the assist.

Barely five minutes later, Jones scored again when she popped a high shot from 30 yards out to the right upper 90, on an assist from senior Franziska Kern.

"This is my first year playing varsity, so I want to prove to my team that I have something to offer," Jones said. "I try my best every game to shoot and it's paying off."

The second half went much smoother for the Blackhawks. Saffell picked up her first goal with exactly 28 minutes remaining in the game.

She scored on a low shot from about 15 yards after taking a long pass on a restart from Diaz, who was just outside the Blackhawks' penalty area when she booted the ball.

Saffell made it 4-1 almost 20 minutes later, again taking a long pass -- this time from freshman Daniela Bueno -- and scoring on a low shot.

She completed the hat trick just 38 seconds later after yet another long pass that came from goalkeeper Brianna Burkett (4 saves).

Saffell had time to stop, survey the situation and then lift a high shot into the net from about 10 yards.

"We needed to get the first goal to get motivated -- we were all sleeping out there," Saffell said. "Once (Jones) got that goal everyone woke up and got motivated to play."

The game was played on West's practice field because of a track meet being held in the stadium. The practice field runs east-west rather than the stadium's north-south setup.

With a strong wind gusting out of the east, the field's dimensions played into the Blackhawks' favor. The long passes on Saffell's goals came compliments of that easterly wind.

"I tried to get behind them because I knew I could outrun them," said Saffell, who has six goals.

"They didn't judge the balls right, so it bounced over their heads and I was able to take advantage."

The back-to-back victories helps the Blackhawks put their start to the season in the past.

They suffered lopsided losses to Naperville North and Naperville Central in DuPage Valley Conference play, but have remained encouraged by the progess they've been making.

Tuesday's victory showed they can respond to slow starts and still come out on top. But that's not a habit first-year coach Laura Wagley wants to see continue.

The Bengals took advantage of that, getting a goal from Lauren Clark on a header in the 15th minute.

"I don't want to say that I'm glad they scored, but it was good that they did because it snapped us out of (our sluggishness)," Wagley said.

"Nina gets that goal and then my girls were, 'Oh this is our game now. We know how to play.'

"Then Nina getting that second one helps our confidence. We talked about that at halftime and came out a lot stronger in the second half."






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