The best for last
HAMPSHIRE – The month of April hasn’t been kind to Crystal Lake Central’s girls soccer team during the past few seasons.
The Tigers had lost their past 15 April contests coming into Monday’s Fox Valley Conference Fox Division matchup against Hampshire.
But on the last day of the month, Central put together one of its more complete performances of the season, scoring eight minutes in and then adding two more goals later on for a 3-0 victory over the Whip-Purs.
“We didn’t just do it for 40 minutes; we did it for 80 minutes,” Central coach Jay Schwarzrock said. “There were a lot of positives there.”
Central (5-7, 1-1 FVC Fox) came in on a six-game losing streak while Hampshire (7-6-4, 1-1) had only lost one of its past nine games. But the Tigers got on the board first when Katie Beck’s long shot skipped through the hands of Hampshire’s goalkeeper for an early 1-0 lead.
After a shaky first five minutes defensively, Central played even with Hampshire, possessing the ball and getting more quality scoring chances.
The Tigers came through again late in the first half on a shot by Stacie Wolfgram. The freshman forward ran on to a through ball from senior Madie Edwards and drove one off the crossbar and in for a 2-0 advantage.
“The first goal definitely helped us settle down because we knew that Hampshire is one of the better teams in the conference,” Central sophomore goalie Caitlyn Dayton said. “It’s been tough losing to some good teams lately, but the goal helped us gain a lot of confidence.”
Hampshire continued to apply pressure after halftime. Ten minutes in, senior midfielder Natalie Starrenburg had a shot hit the crossbar and bounce away for the second time in the game. The Whip-Purs had six corner kicks, but failed to convert any of their set pieces.
Dayton had 11 saves for the Tigers, seven of them coming in the second half.
Edwards closed the scoring when she got behind the defense off a pass from junior Elizabeth Kozicki, dribbled past the keeper with one touch to her right, and put a shot into the open net with seven minutes to play.
“With a young team, we can’t get too cocky or that can come back and bite us,” Edwards said. “At halftime, [Schwarzrock] always says a 2-0 lead is the worst lead to have because you’re a little cocky, but you still have to keep playing.”
Central has three freshmen and five sophomores in their starting lineup so the season has been a work in progress for the Tigers.
“The big thing for us is getting it together and getting better,” Edwards said. “Maybe we won’t pull out as many wins as we’d like in the middle of the season, but at the end of the season we always pull it together.”