SILVIS — If the United Township girls soccer team has any kind of free kick in a dangerous area, there is a pretty good chance it is coming off the foot of Sandra Camarillo.
That’s because the senior midfielder usually puts the ball in the perfect spot for her teammates. Camarillo saved her best performance during Saturday’s annual Panther Invite for the third-place contest against Davenport Central.
Camarillo racked up three assists and scored a goal herself to help UT beat the Blue Devils, 5-1, and claim the third-place plaque.
Champaign Centennial defeated Byron in the championship match.
For the day, Camarillo had three goals and four assists as the Panthers (5-5) went 2-1 during the eight-team event.
“She’s a strong technical player, she reads and understands the game well,” Panthers coach Phil Weaver said of Camarillo. “She’s been part of our program for four years, she is an experienced player and she’s one of the players we look to for leadership on the field.”
In addition to her leadership, Camarillo showed how much damage she can do on the offensive attack. Her blast from just outside the penalty area led to UT’s first goal in the 19th minute as Central keeper Olivianna Kramer made the initial save but the force of Camarillo’s shot left a rebound chance that Ryleigh O’Brien put in the net.
Two minutes later, Camarillo did the honors herself with a shot from 20 yards out that found the top left corner.
The third goal in the 31st minute might have been the sweetest. Camarillo was running down the right side and still moving when she lofted a centering pass right in front of the goal that Destinee Cook barely had to move for to head home for the Panthers’ third tally.
Cook later scored off a scramble in front of the net to make it 4-0 for UT just before halftime.
“I’m OK with getting assists rather than scoring,” Camarillo said. “After practice, I go home and work on my free kicks and my extra touches. I’m pretty pleased with our performance today and I know we are working better at moving the ball but there are still things to work on.”
Camarillo showed her touch again in the 38th minute when she sent a free kick from 30 yards out into Central’s penalty area that O’Brien barely had to get her foot on to score to put the home team up 5-0.
Jalynn Roberts did pull one back for the Blue Devils (2-3) in the 42nd minute for the final goal of the game.
The Panthers found the going much tougher in the semifinals against Champaign Centennial. Camarillo scored on a penalty kick in the 17th minute to tie the game at 1-1 after Centennial had gone up early.
But UT struggled to keep Centennial forwards Gressa and Willa Olson in check. The physical play of those two created numerous opportunities that led to an eventual 5-2 win over the hosts.
Gressa Olson scored two goals in the first half and Willa Olson assisted twice on three goals scored by Mary Woods in the second half as Centennial controlled the semifinal most of the way. O’Brien had a goal for UT.
The Panthers opened the tournament with an 8-0 win over Chicago Christian behind two goals from Bryanna Copas while Camarillo, O”Brien, Kaisa Sommer, Alexandra Garcia, Jasmine Huset and Samantha Stevens also found the net. Hanna Mirimanian was solid in goal all three games for the Panthers.
Central opened the tournament with a 5-3 win over Rock Island behind a pair of goals from Lily Garcia. Anna Sitz, Ava Soliz and Keeley Behan also scored for the Blue Devils.
Central dropped a frustrating semifinal loss to Byron in penalty kicks after the contest went scoreless during regular time. The Blue Devils outshot Byron 10-3 during the game but had all four of their penalty kicks saved and fell 2-0 in the shootout.
Kramer made two saves during the shootout and did record eight saves in the defeat to United Township.
“We’re just young, we have seven freshmen on the field so that is a struggle sometimes,” Blue Devils coach Hans Krueger said. “The Byron game we should have won handily but we didn’t. They’ve been playing hard and we have a good future, we just have stick together and finish.”