Both teams in Thursday’s Fox Valley Valley game knew the outcome wouldn’t lock up a title, but a win was needed to stay in the hunt.
And Crystal Lake South did just that and more with a 2-0 win over host Huntley.
The visiting Gators (12-2-4, 5-0), who started the year 0-1-2, remained undefeated in the Fox Valley Valley while also extending their unbeaten string to 13. South now focuses on a home finale with Prairie Ridge (10-5-1, 4-1).
Instead of trying to win out in conference play, No. 16 Huntley will focus on capturing its final two home matches in order to build momentum for the Class 3A regional it will host. The Red Raiders (12-6, 2-2) are the top seed and may have a shot at revenge with No. 2 seed South.
“To still have a conference championship still in our reach is great,” goalkeeper Jaclyn Przbylski said before insisting on sharing credit for the team’s 13th shutout. “I can’t say enough about my defenders, I made some saves, but this was
one of the best games I’ve seen us play.”
After winning the coin flip, Huntley opted to play with a gusty wind for the first half and Przbylski made several stops on
dangerous balls in the air before South finally got a breakaway. Senior Erin Woeste’s service enabled Brandie Minoque to boom a nine-yarder from the left inside of the far-right post.
“It was kind of a last minute decision because the ball seemed to take a weird bounce, but once I got control of it, I just volleyed it home,” Minoque said.
“Brandi always does a good job getting open and I just wanted to get the ball to her. We knew we had to come out hard and not panic,” Woeste said. “This was a big game for the conference, but I also respect them so much because I play club ball with several, so it was a big deal.”
The Red Raiders had 16 of their 21 attempts in the first half and six of their nine shots on goal in that span. South finished with six shots, five of which were on net.
“Their keeper was like a vacuum, great hands,” Huntley coach Kris Grabner said. “One reason we love this game is the team that gets outplayed can still win. I thought we outplayed them in many respects. We lost our shape on the first one and it was such a nice shot.
“The last goal shouldn’t have happened — if it’s only 1-0, maybe things could be different. But give them credit, we couldn’t go through the middle and couldn’t build our attacks from the sides.”
Despite having the wind, there was 19:34 remaining when South gained a two-goal cushion with Audrey Collard’s stellar throw-in becoming an assist as Katherin Siavelis finished from a scramble in front of the Red Raiders’ net.
“The key was playing hard and staying composed,” South coach Jay Mueller said. “Jacklyn simply had a monster day in goal and by far, this was the best day for us. I couldn’t be prouder of them. We had a good result (3-0) against Prairie Ridge in their tournament, so we’ll hope for the same.”