How sweep it is: For first time since girls soccer rivalry began 33 years ago, QHS sweeps QND


Quincy Notre Dame forward Lia Quintero, right, attempts to play the ball between Quincy High School defenders Hope Lenz, left, and Maddie O'Brien, back, during Thursday's game at Advance Physical Therapy Field. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — In nearly a quarter century as part of the Quincy High School girls soccer program — the first eight as an assistant coach and the past 15 as the head coach — Travis Dinkheller had never witnessed the Blue Devils sweep the season series from their crosstown rivals.

Not a single person had.

Not since the inception of either program.

Not until Thursday night.

Taylor Routh’s goal with 17 minutes remaining in regulation broke a scoreless tie, and the QHS defense kept the shutout in a 1-0 victory over Quincy Notre Dame at Advance Physical Therapy Field. Coupled with the 4-1 victory over the Raiders on March 27, the Blue Devils swept the season series for the first time since both schools launched their girls soccer programs in 1990.

“We’ve worked so hard for this and we’ve always wanted it,” said Routh, a junior forward. “Because of that, it just feels good.”

It meant so much it brought Dinkheller to tears in the post-game huddle.

“It was more emotional for me than I thought it would be,” he said.

Yet, it was understandable. Dinkheller had been 2-19-5 against QND as the QHS head coach prior to this season. 

Despite Raiders goalkeeper Aly Young diving to her right to save a Blue Devils shot headed for the lower corner of the net with 35 seconds remaining in the first half that sent the teams to halftime scoreless, Dinkheller sensed a major moment was coming.

“I told them at halftime, ‘You have an opportunity here that we have not talked about. You have an opportunity to do something special here. You seniors, you have to go get it,’” Dinkheller said. “It wasn’t always the prettiest possession, but we found a way.”

The goal wasn’t exactly picturesque. Routh collected a loose ball near the top of the box, turned and whistled a shot a whisper wide of a QND defender. The shot was just out of the reach of Raiders goalkeeper Addison Van Hecke and glanced off the left post as it went in.

“I give all the credit to my team because we all worked hard for that goal,” Routh said. “Every one of us. The whole team.”

The same could be said of the shutout.

QHS junior goalkeeper Taylor Fohey made two critical saves, including stopping a shot by QND striker Lia Quintero headed for the upper corner. 

“It was a good shot,” Fohey said. “It was a really good shot.”

And a better save.

“I don’t know many goalkeepers other than her who would have gotten to that one,” QND coach Mark Longo said.

Fohey got to everything.

“Lately, we’ve been getting out of position a little bit and not communicating as well as we need to,” Fohey said. “In this game, we really focused on that. We marked the players we needed to mark, and we cleared the ball when we needed to clear it.”

Everything centered around communication.

“We have to tell each other when people are running in or when they’re popping out,” Fohey said. “We have to have each other’s backs when there are players coming in on our backsides. That’s partly my duty to communicate that to them. I feel like us being able to communicate as a team, all over the field and not just in back, led us to the win.”

The effort it took to win a game like that built throughout.

“That was the thing we were lacking in the first half,” Dinkheller said of a high work rate. “You get in a game like this and you don’t want to be the kid that makes a mistake. So you have a tendency to err on the side of caution instead of getting into it and getting after it.”

Even so, the Blue Devils (12-4-3) were able to avoid an unlucky bounce — the kind of tide-turning moment the Raiders (14-8-1) believe is coming their way.

“I hope they believe me, because I really think if we get in a game, get a break where get up, things are completely different,” said Longo, whose program is 49-17-11 all-time against QHS. “We had two great opportunities, and it just didn’t happen.”

It’ll need to happen soon. The Raiders open postseason play in the Class 1A Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin Regional at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Riverton. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils close the regular season at home Saturday against Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias before playing host to a Class 3A regional the following week.

Sweeping the city series for the first time is the right way to move forward.

“The best way possible,” QHS midfielder Bri Lannerd said.

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