Thanks to sparkling play from junior goalkeeper Jordan Ginther and a little assistance from the crossbar, Kaneland managed to keep Crystal Lake Central off the scoreboard for over 70 minutes in Wednesday's Burlington Central Class 2A semifinal.
But, after a pair of narrow misses earlier in the contest, Tigers senior Madie Edwards finally made the Knights pay.
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Edwards took Katie Beck's pass from 35 yards out and launched a rocket off a diving Ginther into the top right corner with 7:45 remaining to give No. 3 seed Crystal Lake Central a 1-0 victory over the second-seeded Knights.
Edwards' 15th goal of the season with a stiff wind at her back lifted the Tigers (9-7) into Saturday's regional final against Burlington Central
"She nailed it. Most goalies don't even attempt saving that thing," said Kaneland coach Scott Parillo, as his squad ended the season 12-6-1. "If you're going to lose, lose on a shot like that. I tip my hat to Crystal Lake. They got it done."
"I got a piece of it and I thought it was going to just go wide, but it didn't," said Ginther, who made 17 saves.
After Crystal Lake Central put together a pair of solid scoring chances in the opening minutes, Kaneland settled down and played well for the majority of the first half.
Eight minutes in, Courtney Diddell launched a shot just wide left on a nice feed from Madi Jurcenko.
The Knights put together a decent scoring chance with 13 minutes left in the half on Taylor White's cross to Brittany Olson, but Olson couldn't get enough on the shot to beat Tigers keeper Caitlyn Dayton, who made 8 saves in the game.
"We had some opportunities, but we didn't get quality shots," Parillo said. "We just couldn't keep connecting on the passes like we have done all season long."
The Tigers nearly got on the board with 5 minutes left when Ginther made a tremendous diving save on a rocket from Beck that was headed for the top right corner. Edwards beat Ginther from close range just before the half, but the shot caromed off the crossbar.
"It's a bit frustrating especially when we played the pipe music a little bit, but we continued to put the pressure on and eventually we put one in," said Tigers coach Jay Schwarzrock.
Kaneland's best second half scoring chance came 10 minutes in on a feed from Michelle Ortiz to Melissa Bohorquez, but Dayton handled Bohorquez's solid shot to the left corner.
"It's a learning experience," Parillo said. "This is a young group of kids -- three seniors, a couple of juniors, the rest are all freshmen and sophomores. Hopefully they'll bounce back next year and be a little bit hungrier."