Buffalo Grove meets Fremd's challenge
Kelli and Colleen Zickert continue to play a sizeable part in the early success of Buffalo Grove's girls soccer team.
The twins' superb scoring effort just minutes into the second half helped hand the Bison a key 2-1 victory at Fremd in a key Mid-Suburban League matchup Wednesday night.
The host Vikings (1-1-1, 0-1-0) first stunned their high-flying guests when Caroline Wagner put them ahead at 15 minutes.
But two minutes into the second half, Kelli Zickert canceled out Wagner's first-half opener; later, Colleen Zickert finished a brilliant helper from Jessica Kovach with what proved to be the game-winner for Buffalo Grove (6-0-1, 2-0-0-6 points).
"We have almost everyone back from last year, and there's a lot of chemistry on this team, so we all knew how big a win this would be for us against a team like Fremd which is always one of the best in the MSL," said Kelli Zickert.
"This team is full of competitors," said BG coach Pat Dudle, "so I wasn't surprised that we came out so strong tonight. But Fremd always just comes at you, and they kind of took over the game for awhile. But the girls played hard and we got ourselves back into it before the half and had a great second half to get an important win."
The visitors looked to be on their way to having an easy time of it in the opening moments, as both Kelli Zickert and Kim Herzog were in on Vikings keeper Christine Piasecki. The senior stopped Zickert's point-blank attempt, and Herzog's shot went just wide of the post.
"We couldn't have come out much flatter than we did tonight, but, fortunately for us, it wasn't 2-0 right away, and we slowly found ourselves and played some decent soccer in spurts and got the lead," said Fremd coach Steve Keller.
Fremd then enjoyed the run of play by finding Michelle Mottonen on a consistent basis, and with her midfield partner Ashley McConnell winning the 50-50 battles for her club, the Vikings kept the Bison under pressure leading up to Wagner's goal at the quarter hour. She finished nicely under Sarah O'Connor thanks to a helper from Katie Zara.
"We came out strong before our play fell off in the first half, but every part of our game improved so much in the second half," said BG sophomore Jessica Kovach, who had a wonderful 80 minutes at midfield.
Just after intermission, Kelli Zickert was put through on the left side from Allie Ingham, and in a 1 v 1 situation, the junior showed she's an ice-cold finisher, easily burying her shot to equalize.
With the Bison attack revved up, it took only three minutes for them to go ahead for good.
Ingram had a go in close which was cleared off the line, then Colleen Zickert forced Piasecki to save what seemed a sure goal.
Moments later, Colleen Zickert took a serve from Kovach out of the air, and in one motion one-timed her shot past Piasecki to bring the Buffalo Grove faithful up off of their seats.
"That second half showed how much better technically they are than us," said Keller. "They have a lot of talent, and they play quick and possess the ball very well. And we had trouble with it, especially in the second half."
While Kovach and Carly Brown, one of the few seniors on the Bison roster, helped control the middle of the park, the backline, top creator Skylar Groth was moved to defend as the visitors looked to tighten things up the rest of the way.
Keller pushed Wagner up higher, while moving Mottonen and Jessa Rizzo up top for the final 20 minutes as the Vikings looked to draw even. But Groth, Shannon Guercio and Sara Brawley were up to the challenge.
"This was one of those games we targeted from the very beginning, so to come in here and get a victory was very important to reaching one of our goals we've set for ourselves," said Dudle.
The Bison host MSL East rival Elk Grove on Friday, while Fremd is on the road at Barrington on the same night.
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