Home World Claire Wajda, Providence shut down Tinley Park

Claire Wajda, Providence shut down Tinley Park

14
0


Claire Wajda decided to give soccer a shot during her freshman year at Providence. She never expected to be turned into a goalkeeper.

Fast forward two years, and Wajda looks like a seasoned veteran as a junior in the net. And she has been a huge part of an historic season for the Celtics in her first go-round on varsity.

“I joined freshman year and they asked, ‘Who plays basketball?’” Wajda said. “I told them I do, and they’re like, ‘OK, you’re the goalie.’

“I still get worried every time somebody shoots the ball, but I like knowing that I can use my hands. I like being back there as the last line of defense.”

Wajda made that last line a very difficult one for opponents to cross Friday night.

She notched four saves to record her 13th shutout of the season and lift the top-seeded Celtics to a 2-0 victory over Tinley Park in the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional championship game.

Giuliana Savarino and Alyssa Thulin each scored a goal and Jenna Chentnik had an assist for Providence (17-9-1), which won the second sectional title in program history and first since 2002.

The Celtics will play at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Kankakee Supersectional against the winner of Saturday’s game between Peoria Notre Dame (22-1-1) and Peoria Richwoods (21-3-1).

Maggie Stachowicz made five saves for second-seeded Tinley Park (17-4).

Providence's Claire Wajda (0) holds the ball after making a save during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional final against Tinley Park in Kankakee on Friday, May 23, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Claire Wajda (0) holds the ball after making a save against Tinley Park during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional championship game on Friday, May 24, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

Wajda came up big as the Titans put some major pressure on late in the first half. She got a knee on a hard shot from Lakeland recruit Addie Weed, knocking the ball wide.

Then, Wajda got just enough of another line-drive shot from Weed to deflect it off the post and out.

“I just kept going,” Wajda said. “I trusted my defense. I wasn’t worried that many shots were going to come. They just kept getting it out.”

Wajda’s teammates trust her, too.

“I think she’s amazing,” Thulin said. “She’s come a long way. She comes out of the goal when she needs to — made so many huge saves for us. She’s a big aspect of why we’re here right now.”

Wajda played soccer a bit when she was very young but had a long layoff before deciding to give it a try for the Celtics.

“I hadn’t played soccer since second grade, but a bunch of my friends were playing when I was a freshman,” she said. “They were like, ‘Claire, play, it’s so much fun,’ So, I joined, and here I am.”

Providence's Giuliana Savarino (15) celebrates scoring a goal with Alexa Thompson (25) during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional final against Tinley Park in Kankakee on Friday, May 23, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Giuliana Savarino (15) celebrates with Alexa Thompson (25) after scoring a goal against Tinley Park during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional championship game on Friday, May 24, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

Getting thrown in the goal was certainly daunting at first.

“I was excited to play soccer, but I was a little nervous because I realized it’s a hard spot,” Wajda said. “As I keep going, I’m learning so much.

“Basketball helps so much with hand-eye coordination. In basketball, you have to catch the ball, so I’m ready to catch the ball as a goalie.”

Abby O’Brien, Maura Hurley, Emma Winjum and Alexa Thompson led the defense Friday in front of Wajda.

Savarino sparked the Celtics in the first half, scoring off a cross from Chentnik in the 22nd minute. Thulin delivered the insurance goal on a 30-yard shot with 17:39 remaining in the game.

“This means a lot,” Savarino said. “We didn’t think we’d go this far, and I’m really proud of my team and all the work we put in.”

Providence's Claire Wajda (0) prepares for a free kick attempt during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional final against Tinley Park in Kankakee on Friday, May 23, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Daily Southtown)
Providence’s Claire Wajda (0) prepares for a free kick against Tinley Park during the Class 2A Kankakee Sectional championship game on Friday, May 24, 2024. (Troy Stolt / Daily Southtown)

The Celtics, who won just six games last season, have certainly exceeded the expectations of first-year coach Mike Taylor.

Wajda is a big reason why.

“I give all the kudos to Claire,” Taylor said. “She had never played in her life. She played half of a season of JV goalie last year and now she has 13 shutouts.

“She’s come in every game and performed. I can’t say enough about her.”



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here