Raiders’ reign as Class 1A state champions ends with regional title game loss to Cyclones


Quincy Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Sage Stratton and the Raiders saw their season end with a 4-2 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin on Friday night in the Class 1A regional championship at Ken Leonard Field in Springfield, Ill. | Photo courtesy Mathew Kirby

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The reign is over, undone by the Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer team’s inability to find a consistent rhythm or flow to its season.

Injuries curtailed that. Inconsistency did, too.

Unable to create their own lucky bounces or breaks, the Raiders played catch-up too often, just like they did Friday during a 4-2 loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the championship game of the Class 1A SHG Regional at Ken Leonard Field.

“That’s the best way to describe it right there,” QND coach Mark Longo said. “We never found a good rhythm, a good flow to our system.”

Thus, the Raiders’ reign as the Class 1A state champion ended without the chance to fully defend the crown. QND ends its season at 13-9-1, while SHG advances to the Riverton Sectional with a 14-7-1 record and will face Alton Marquette (18-3-2) in Tuesday’s semifinals.

“The whole year we were snake-bitten,” Longo said. “Not just with injuries, but with opportunities to score. We just couldn’t do it. It’s not by lack of effort. The kids worked hard. We just didn’t get the results. I think we used all of our luck up the last two years.”

For a moment Friday night, that changed.

Roughly three minutes into the game, senior forward Lia Quintero collected a ball outside the box and drilled a rocket just underneath the crossbar and into the net for a 1-0 lead. It was the 96th goal of her career.

“I thought when Lia scored that goal, that was our break,” Longo said. “As soon as she hit it, you knew it was in. And you think, ‘OK, there’s the break we need.’”

The Cyclones responded with two goals in the next seven minutes. Hannah Lambert scored off a cross from Lily White, while Ava Hancock set up Isabella Perryman’s go-ahead goal with 30:59 remaining in the first half.

Two minutes before halftime, the Cyclones struck again, turning a miscue with possession by the Raiders into Hancock scoring off a White assist on a counterattack. It gave SHG a 3-1 halftime lead.

“If we could have been down just one, things might have been different,” Longo said.

SHG’s Caroline Sheehan scored off a restart early in the second half for a 4-1 lead. QND senior forward Sophie Gramke scored with 20 minutes to play to make it a two-goal deficit, but the Raiders couldn’t climb any closer.

Despite having been to back-to-back state tournaments — QND took fourth in 2021 and won the title last spring — this group couldn’t find the right mix to overcome adversity.

“It’s like any sport, you have to develop a team chemistry where each and every player knows their responsibility and their jobs,” Longo said. “When they get in a tough situation, they know where to bail out to someone. The last two years, we had that. This year, it just wasn’t the same thing.”

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