Senior midfielder Nina Bretz took advantage of a great through ball to score her final goal for the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls soccer team on May 19. 

“[RBHS coach Ivek Halic] had me play more defense for the first half. As soon as he told me I could play up again, I was like, ‘Let’s go,’” Bretz said. “It felt good and we ended at least with one.”

By the time of Bretz’s goal with 2:53 left, the Bulldogs were in the closing moments of a 4-1 loss to Hinsdale Central in the IHSA Class 3A Regional final at RBHS.

The Bulldogs (16-7-1), seeded No. 6 in the Reavis Sectional, enjoyed one of their highest victory totals for a season. They hoped for their first regional title since 2016 and first in Class 3A after losing to the Red Devils on penalty kicks in last year’s regional semifinals.

“We all really wanted this win. Especially losing to them by this much, at least take them to [penalty kicks] again,” Bretz said. 

The improved No. 3 Red Devils (14-7-2), however, scored just 7:41 into the match off a corner kick and opened a two-goal lead 4:33 before halftime.

“The first two [goals] kind of deflated us,” RBHS assistant coach Kevin Gawne said. “We were a little nervous, on edge, trying to settle them down at halftime but give Hinsdale Central a lot of credit. We knew what we were up against.”

The Bulldogs came in with momentum from one their best games this season, a 2-1 regional semifinal victory over No. 9 Glenbard East. Bretz and sophomore Ella Caputo scored with assists from junior Hazel Hall.

The Bulldogs finished second in the Metro Suburban Conference Blue after being part of a three-way tie for the title in 2022. Like last year, they played their best at the end, going 11-4-1 after a 5-3 start.

Another key stat Gawne left upon the 23 regular varsity players was that all of them contributed stats in terms of goals or assists.

“It’s tough for us to play 3A but we’ve just accepted it. We’re right there. Competing for conference championships is what we want, and we played an awesome game [against Glenbard East],” Gawne said.

The Bulldogs lose six seniors — Bretz, defensive starters Jessica Sharenow, Sophie Swicionis and Lena Lembcke, goalie Piper Blair, forward Natalie Rubi and midfielder Monique Sandoval. Lembcke, a returning starter who will play at Augustana, has been out the past three weeks with a tendon injury in her foot.