WHEATON – Kellie Callaghan could see a silver lining in a loss.
As rare as it is around St. Charles North.
The North Stars 12 days ago had their 52-game regular-season winning streak snapped by Batavia. Incredibly, it was North's first regular-season loss since April 30, 2016.
"Honestly, being it was our first loss in forever and we lost that streak of wins, it was defeating," said Callaghan, a North junior, following the North Stars' 6-0 victory over Glenbard North in the Class 3A regional semifinal on Tuesday.
"But, I remember sitting on the bus thinking this might actually be the best for us," Callaghan continued. "After only losing in super sectionals against Barrington last year, we weren’t prepared to play in a match where we were down. I think losing early in the season was actually an opportunity for us to recognize the defeat and work past it."
North Stars coach Brian Harks saw an "amazing response" from his team in the aftermath of the loss.
"We had a big talk after that [Batavia] game," Harks said. "I told the girls I think that was probably the most valuable game of the season as far as our ability [to respond]," Harks continued. "I thought the girls responded excellently since then. Their attitudes have been amazing."
The North Stars followed the May 2 loss with a 3-1 victory over Geneva and a 0-0 draw against Wheaton Warrenville South.
The pressure that comes with maintaining that winning streak is now gone, allowing the North Stars to concentrate on the strong playoff success that has produced three straight sectional championships.
Sami Rydberg scored the first goal of Tuesday's game on an assist from Anna Weyman. Five minutes later, a Claudia Najera shot attempt rebounded away in the Panthers box, and was cleaned up by CeCe Wahlberg to make it 2-0.
Sarah Andrey and Kelly Smith added goals for the 4-0 halftime lead. Najera and Talia Pellegrini scored the two second-half goals to complete the victory. The Panthers struggled to find any room in the offensive zone, playing the vast majority on the defensive.
North advances to play St. Francis, a 4-2 winner over Bartlett. North beat St. Francis 1-0 during the regular season.
"Our girls have tested themselves throughout the regular season," Harks said. "I think that we're ready to put what we've learned into action."