Annabell Simpson scored three times in University soccer win

Annabell Simpson scored three times in University’s dominating performance as the Cubs beat Holy Savior Menard 4-1 at Richard Gill Stadium at Jeff Boss Field in the Division III girls soccer regional playoff game Tuesday night.

The third-seeded Cubs were on top almost from the opening minute, holding No. 14 seed Menard to fewer shots than University scored goals.

“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we got the result,” said UHS coach Melissa Ramsey. “I’ve got to give it to Menard they played a heck of a game. They had a heck of a game plan and never stopped competing.”

Simpson’s final two goals came directly off corner kicks, after she scored the first scored on a breakaway. Creston Willis scored Menard’s lone goal late in the second half.

“They put a lot of pressure on us from the start,” said Menard coach Dwayne Skefo. “They’re aggressive and well coached. We knew going in we were going to be in for a fight.”

University took control of the match early, and the majority of the first half was spent inside Menard territory.

Simpson and Madison Catalanotto caused plenty of problems for Menard, and ensured Eagles goalkeeper Molly Gourgues she would stay busy in the penalty area. Simpson’s footwork in particular made her a handful to contain, and she routinely beat opposing defenders with ease.

Simpson opened the scoring nine minutes in when she gathered a Jessica Williamson long ball in Menard territory, split a pair of Eagles defenders, outran her pursuers and slipped the ball past Gourgues.

Simpson took two more shots before Menard took its first. In the 14th minute, the Cubs forward raked a shot across the face of goal, where it glanced off the post and went into touch.

Hanna DeWorth took Menard’s first shot, in the 22nd minute, but her firmly-struck attempt went straight at Cubs goalkeeper Elizabeth Bankhead.

Simpson finished the first half on fire, and challenged the Menard goal three times in the final four minutes.

In the 36th minute, she turned and shot from inside the penalty area, but her attempt was wide of the mark. Two minutes later she headed a Williamson corner goalward, but Allison Thomson cleared her shot off the line. In the 40th minute, Simpson fired another Williamson corner goalward, but this time Gourgues got a hand on it and deflected the attempt over the crossbar.

Two minutes after the restart, the Cubs stretched their lead to 2-0 when Simpson laid the ball off in the penalty area to Abbey Underwood, who blasted her shot past a helpless Gourgues.

In the 52nd minute, the Williamson-to-Simpson corner kick connection finally paid off, when Simpson took the ball from the corner and sent it into the back of the net.

Menard got a consolation goal in the 72nd minute when Bankhead misplayed an Eagles long ball, and Willis was on hand to pass the ball into the empty net.

Simpson completed her hat trick in the 80th minute, when she sent another Williamson corner past Gourgues for the Cubs’ fourth goal.