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Maybe it was just her heritage that gave Nahla Dominguez the incentive to do something special on Cinco De Mayo.

Or maybe it was the promise of some postgame tacos treated by assistant coach Franz Calixte.

Or maybe the Evanston senior was just motivated to beat arch-rival New Trier.

Dominguez displayed her “senior smarts” with a heads-up play that produced a vital goal just before halftime Thursday in Northfield as the Wildkit soccer team completed a perfect run through Central Suburban League South division competition with a 3-1 triumph over the host Trevians.

The soggy but exhilarated Wildkits improved to 15-2-1 overall, 5-0 in league play with the win. They’ll conclude the regular season next Tuesday against Deerfield, and then will host their own IHSA Class 3A regional tournament on May 17th, opening postseason play against the Maine East-Von Steuben winner.

Thursday’s win was payback of sorts against a New Trier team that defeated the Wildkits twice last spring, including a season-ending loss in the sectional. Sophomore forward Jocelyn Leigh scored the first 2 goals for the winners — making it 5 in the past 2 games for the talented striker — but it was Dominguez who made the difference just before time ran out in the first half.

With about 13 seconds left on the clock, a Trevian defender knocked Evanston’s Brealyn Viamille to the ground between the 15 and 20-yard line. Dominguez, who usually handles the free kicks for the Wildkits, hustled to place the ball down and booted a shot high into the right corner with just 2.7 seconds remaining to push the lead to 3-1.

That’s where it remained as the Kits enjoyed that 2-goal cushion and focused their efforts mostly on the defensive end during a rainy second half.

“We have our set pieces in place, and that was her ball, her range, her angle,” said ETHS head coach Stacy Salgado. “We have seniors like Nahla who know their strengths and know the clock. And of course, it took something out of New Trier when she scored like that in the final seconds. She showed her awareness and her knowledge of the game when she made that play.

“That was the goal that gave us a little cushion. We could have had a couple more, but overall, it was a solid performance. And to be able to finish off that (unbeaten) run in the conference is huge. It’s nice to win ‘em all!”

Dominguez watched the clock — then played beat the clock for the visitors.

“Time was ticking down and I saw that Lucinda (teammate Lucinda Lindland) had the ball in her hands. So I told her to drop it,” Dominguez recalled. “Oh, man, I knew time was running out. But when I backed up off the ball I saw that their wall was sprinting backward and there wasn’t a wall anymore.

“So I just looked up and curved the ball to the back post. That was definitely a good goal and one that set us up for the second half.

“All of the seniors have been playing for so long and we know what to do in those situations. That was the moment for a quick restart, when the other team is off-guard. I was joking with my teammates before the game that since it was Cinco De Mayo — and exactly one year since we lost to New Trier — we had to do it tonight for Mexico.”

That tally was a crucial response to the only goal surrendered by the Kits in conference play this spring. New Trier junior Lauren Caldwell raced unmarked down the middle to bang home a rebound of a shot by teammate Sofia Palmer in the 32nd minute, pulling New Trier within a goal on a night where wet and slippery conditions would have forced Evanston to play mistake-free soccer from then on without another insurance goal. Leigh opened the scoring  at the midway point of the first half, set up by a pass from Viamille. She scored again 2 minutes later, leaping in mid-air to redirect a ball struck by Lindland and past New Trier freshman goalie Caroline Hague. 

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