Prospect ended a brief two-game winless streak Wednesday with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over host Hoffman Estates in a Mid-Suburban League crossover match.
In a first period filled with chances, junior Kim Welk netted the lone goal for the Knights (5-1-2, 3-1-1-10 points) in the 30th minute before teammate Allison McCabe gave the visitors a 2-goal advantage at 58 minutes.
"We came out so strong, and put a lot of pressure on (Hoffman)," said Welk, "but maybe we took them for granted a little, and when we had couldn't finish, our play fell off some until later, when we picked our play up again."
Ralph Tooren's inexperienced club struggled to adjust in the opening quarter hour. The Hawks were put under pressure immediately by the Knights, and the quartet of McCabe, Welk, Emily Novak and Sarah LaCost, who started at breakneck speed from the opening whistle.
"We've got 10 freshmen and sophomores on our roster, and sometimes the speed of play is just too much for us, and it showed at the start when they were all over us -- until we settled in and started to play a little bit," said Tooren.
In spite of Hoffman Estates' youthful roster, the Hawks have started the season a respectable 1-3-3 overall (1-2-0 MSL).
The Hawks were somewhat fortunate to stay level for the first half hour, as they struggled to get out of their own end. But that was thanks in part to a rampant attack put forth by the Knights, combined with Hoffman's trouble finding either Natalia Pena or Jackie Nailor at midfield.
"When we found Natalia, we did some good things, but we've got to do that on a more regular basis, in addition to playing through Jackie, whether she is up top or in the middle for us," said Tooren.
Welk wasn't sure who provided the assist on her goal. Both Martina Kowalczuk and Andi Marfilius got things started, and once the ball got onto Welk's shooting boot it didn't take long for her one-timer to crash off the underside of the woodwork and over the endline to give the visitors the lead.
"That was just a great look and one-timer from Kim," said Prospect coach Tom Froats. "Hoffman is so much improved from last year, and they played us tough, so getting that first goal and the lead was very important for us."
Froats pushed another player up top to start the second period with three forwards. Although Prospect was playing into a wickedly cold wind, the Knights were able to enjoy the run of play right up until McCabe burst up the left side and beat Hawks keeper Francesca Van with a low strike from in close.
"I thought their keeper did a good job all night, as did No. 23 (Jennie Nailor), who is the first player who has been able to match the speed of Martina this year," said Froats.
Hannah Brostoff and Ale Alonsa worked a nice counter which led to a corner for the Hawks just after the McCabe goal. Later, Nailor's early ball up the left side found Gaby Vidales in space. But a sharp tackle from Elena Cukurs ended any chance for the home side to threaten against Prospect keeper Eileen McTigue, who recorded her third shutout of the year.
"It wasn't a pretty win, but no team in the MSL is an easy one, so we're pretty happy to get out of here with 3 points," said Froats.
The Knights open play on Friday afternoon at their 8-team Prospect Invite, while the Hawks are at division rival Palatine this Friday.
Hersey 4, Schaumburg 1: Senior Casey Weyhrich scored a hat trick, with 1 goal assisted by Lauren Gierman while Abby Wendell scored the Huskies' other goal.
Hersey junior Morgan Harris made 2 saves as the winning goalkeeper.
Senior Riley Williams had a first-half goal for Schaumburg.
Fremd 8, Wheeling 0: Allison Wade scored 2 goals for Fremd, which scored 6 goals in the first half en route to the MSL crossver win.