It’s not her main gig, but Lincoln-Way East’s Mia Hedrick shows she can score goals. ‘I think defense is cool.’

Steve Johnston/Chicago Tribune/TNS

From the time she first started playing soccer until now, Lincoln-Way East’s Mia Hedrick has never been too interested in glamorous things like scoring goals.

Hedrick, a senior defender, has always been more into shutting people down.

“I’ve been playing defense all my life,” she said. “I started when I was 8 years old, and I didn’t want to be the girl who went up and scored. I was totally fine with playing in the back.

“I think defense is cool.”

Hedrick turned in her typical dominant defensive performance Tuesday night.

But she also showed she can unleash quite a shot when needed, converting the clinching penalty kick as the Griffins won the shootout 4-2 for a 1-0 win over Lincoln-Way Central in a Windy City Ram Classic semifinal at Reavis in Burbank.

Kara Waishwell, Ellie Feigl and Elizabeth Burfeind also scored in the shootout for Lincoln-Way East (4-0). Mattea Arroyo made two saves through regulation and overtime and one in the shootout to record the shutout.

The Griffins will take on Lockport (4-0) — a 4-1 winner over Lincoln-Way West (3-1) — at 6 p.m. Thursday in the championship game of the 32-team tournament.

Flynn Meyer made two saves for Lincoln-Way Central (3-1), while Lila Hadley and Jaylin Sustr scored in the shootout.

On the victory-sealing goal, Hedrick ripped a line drive off the bottom of the crossbar into the net.

“I was pretty confident,” Hedrick said. “We practice those all the time. I knew my girls had my back. We’re all very supportive of each other.

“I knew even if I missed, I have the best goalkeeper who can save the next one. So I wasn’t too worried.”

While Hedrick looked like a high-scoring striker on the penalty kick, defense is certainly her specialty. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Defense is very dependent on communication,” Hedrick said. “If one person is out of the loop, it all falls apart. When you’re a central defender, you really have to make sure everyone works together and I like playing that role.”

It’s a job Arroyo is grateful to have Hedrick doing in front of her.

“Mia is amazing with communication,” Arroyo said. “She’s such a great leader. She conducts the back line so smoothly and she works so hard as well.

“She’s an all-around amazing player, and it’s inspiring to see how well she works with everybody and how she always goes hard for the ball and covers her teammates, also.”

Arroyo made a save on Lincoln-Way Central’s first shot of the shootout to get her team going in the right direction.

“I just pick a side and that was just the right one,” Arroyo said. “Thankfully, it worked for me.”

Arroyo and Hedrick are both four-year varsity players. Hedrick said getting thrown onto the starting back line as a freshman was a challenge that helped her grow into the player she is now.

“It was a lot of pressure my freshman year,” she said. “But I had some really good mentors to help show me the way, and I hope to do the same thing for some of the younger girls.”

Camden Cosich, Julia Chonarzewski and Hannah Tokarski teamed up with Hedrick on the back line to help the Griffins record their fourth straight shutout.

Lincoln-Way East coach Mike Murphy is sure glad Hedrick loves defense.

“Mia’s been on varsity since she was a freshman and she’s been great,” Murphy said. “The biggest thing is her leadership. She’s taken Camden underneath her arm and has developed Camden into a great player in the back.

“We’ve played some good teams and I don’t think we’ve given up a good shot on goal yet. The defense gets a lot of credit for that and Mia is a huge part of it.”