NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer coach Mark Longo used body language to gauge his team's reaction to surrendering a lead for the first time this postseason.
What he saw alleviated all worries.
"I looked at my kids," Longo said. "Their heads didn't go down. They kind of looked at each other, clapped hands and said, 'C'mon, let's go. We just have to get going.'"
It didn't take long for that to happen.
Seven minutes after Winnetka North Shore Country Day tied the Class 1A state championship game at 1, QND senior forward Hannah Peters made a run up the right side to the endline, crossing a pass to the goal mouth so Izzie Anderson could bury the shot and give Notre Dame the lead in the 52nd minute.
QND tacked on three more goals to finish its fifth title run and win back-to-back championships with a 5-1 victory at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.
"It doesn't feel real," QND senior midfield Olivia Dreyer said. "Honestly, it doesn't. Right now, it feels just like a game. I bet it will hit later. But it's an amazing feeling to leave QND as back-to-back state champions."
It wasn't as easy or cozy as the final score might indicate.
QND lead 1-0 at halftime on the strength of Peters' goal off an Anderson assist in the 32nd minute, but despite controlling the pace of play and limiting North Shore Country Day to one shot, it was a tenuous lead.
"We came out a little nervous," said Anderson, a sophomore forward. "We didn't play as tough as we should have."
For a fleeting moment, there was the worry it could prove costly.
Five minutes into the second half, North Shore Country Day's Edith Edwards-Mizel collected a ball high in the box and hit a shot that QND goalkeeper Madison L. Meyer got her hands on. However, the ball hit the bottom side of the crossbar and bounced into the net to tie the game at 1.
QND had outscored its previous six postseason opponents 41-2, and both goals were scored while enjoying at least a three-goal lead.
"That was a shock to everyone," Peters said. "I think we underestimated them. They came out and played so hard the entire time. We realized we had to step it up, or we weren't going to be state champions again. We knew we had a lot to lose.
"We got this far, so why blow it now?"
That realization is what Longo saw.
"I knew we'd be OK," he said.
All it took was one quality run to put everyone at ease.
Peters beat her defender into open space and carried the ball deep. She noticed Anderson and another teammate running to the goal.
"I was like, 'This is the perfect opportunity,'" Peters said. "It worked."
All Anderson had to do was make quality contact and keep the ball low. She did both.
"I kind of just swung at it," she said. "I feel like whenever I think about it, I mess up. I didn't want to mess that up."
It would have been tough to botch such a perfect buildup.
"That's QND soccer right there," Longo said. "Down the line, angle in, hit someone in the middle, finish."
QND took advantage of the momentum swing.
The consistent and constant pressure that led to a 25-4 advantage in shots and a 9-1 edge in corner kicks broke North Shore Country Day down. A hand ball called against North Shore Country Day in the box in the 62nd minute gave QND a penalty kick, which Dreyer buried for a 3-1 lead.
Peters scored an unassisted goal in the 75th minute, then set up senior forward Beth Eversman for a goal in the 79th minute.
"We didn't get down on ourselves," Dreyer said. "We knew that we were good at coming back from stuff like that. We've done it in other games. I don't think anyone was down even a little bit."
Now they can ride the high of having completed the mission to repeat.
"Awesome," Peters aid. "So great."
Class 1A state championship
Quincy Notre Dame 5, Winnetka North Shore Country Day 1
4 Shots 25
9 Saves 1
1 Corners 9
8 Fouls 9
0 Offsides 2
North Shore Country Day 0 1--1
QND 1 4--5
Q--Hannah Peters (Izzie Anderson), 32:00
N--Edith Edwards-Mizel (unassisted), 46:00
Q--Anderson (H. Peters), 52:00
Q--Olivia Dreyer (penalty kick), 62:00
Q--H. Peters (unassisted), 75:00
Q--Beth Eversman (H. Peters), 79:00