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West girls top Centennial, play for sectional soccer title Friday

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NORMAL — Normal West High School girls’ soccer coach Val Walker had some big plans for sophomore midfielder Carolyn Peters once she returned from an injury that’s sidelined her for a little over a month.

“We had talked about her coming in, in a different role,” Walker said. “She was a center/midfielder and I told her if we can get her back to play up top and use her skill and her height and her tenacity, she could add great value to this team.”

Peters returned Tuesday and delivered on all of the above, scoring a pair of goals and helping West to a 5-1 Class 2A sectional semifinal win over Champaign Centennial on the Wildcats’ home field.

The victory gave West a 21-4-1 record and a spot in Friday’s 5 p.m. championship game against Charleston, a 3-0 winner over Morris in Tuesday’s first game.

“I’m really excited to be back and glad to be helping in any way I can,” said Peters, who missed action after dislocating a kneecap.

Sophomore Keely Theobald is just as happy and excited to have her back.

“She had a huge impact at the beginning of the season and her injury kind of slowed us,” Theobald said. “Coming back from the injury and almost scoring a hat trick is how important she is to our team.”

Theobald nearly had a hat trick as well, scoring West’s first two goals in less than a three-minute span of the opening half.

With 18:05 remaining in the period, Theobald fielded a pass from senior Elise Cather and booted it past Centennial goalkeeper Hope Archer to put the Wildcats on the board. With 15:20 left, Theobald then left-footed a nifty pass from Kate Lorenz into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.

The Wildcats dominated possession throughout the first half and controlled the tempo from the outset. The Wildcats outshot Centennial 7-2 in the first half.

They led 3-0 at halftime when Peters scored her first goal with 1:23 remaining when a corner kick bounced off a Centennial defender to her waiting foot for a rebound score.

“I was just in the right place at the right time and it just happened to go in,” she said, adding that the circumstances surrounding her second goal just under 10 minutes into the second half were somewhat similar.

After West’s Amber Helton faked out a Centennial defender on the right sideline, she centered a pass that popped out of a gaggle toward Peters who converted for the score. Abby Thompson, who scored West’s final goal with 8:38 remaining, was also credited with an assist on the play.

Centennial narrowed West’s shots-on-goal advantage to 13-9 by game’s end, but was unable to draw close.

The Chargers’ goal came when senior Dagny Olson scored with 27:36 left.

West avenged the only blemish on its Big 12 Conference record this year. Centennial and the Wildcats played to a 2-2 tie at Champaign earlier in the season.

“That was a different game for both of us,” said Centennial coach Hsiung Marler. “Stuff that happens two months ago has very little bearing on what happens today. In the first half that was somebody else wearing our uniforms and we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing. But, they were the better team today and deserved to win.”

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