Nothing is ever set in stone, especially in postseason play.
On Tuesday, United Township faced a Dixon soccer team that wasn’t as equipped as the Panthers’ recent Western Big 6 competition in a Class 2A regional semifinal.
Although the Panthers won 7-1, Dixon didn’t make it easy in the early going.
“If you come with the attitude that you just have to show up to win, you’re going to struggle,” UT coach Phil Weaver said. “I think you have to turn in a performance regardless of the opposition.”
UT struck first when Alora Esparza scored in the 16th minute. After that, UT looked too comfortable with the slim lead.
Dixon’s Katie Provo scored the team’s only goal of the night to tie it in the 35th minute.
“In the beginning, we struggled really bad,” Esparza said. “The first goal they scored against us was really wake-up call.”
Katie Johnson scored in the 37th minute to reclaim the lead. Less than a minute later, freshman, Abbie Graham scored to make it 3-1.
Following the Graham goal, Esparza took matters into her own hands. She had a hat-trick between the 50th and 61st minutes. Her final two goals were off goalie deflections.
Including the opening goal, the regional opener made for a special night for the senior.
“We want to go far and know we have the potential, so we all stepped up our game,” Esparza said. “Sometimes goals are about the right time, right place, but I think the position you’re matters more.”