A run at the upper reaches of the Mid-Suburban League girls soccer standings was something Prospect coach Tom Froats had hoped for prior to the season.
His Knights now have the opportunity to climb even higher.
Late Friday night, Froats’ team overcame the rain, snow, cold and Thor-guard lightning warnings before finishing off visiting Elk Grove 3-1 to earn 3 vital points and stay within striking distance of league-leading Buffalo Grove.
The Knights host the Bison on Monday.
“This is the dream game that we’ve been working toward and wanting, and the girls showed they wanted the opportunity to play one of the best in the state in a game that will mean so much for both sides,” Froats said.
“Coach (Froats) gave us a little pep talk about the importance of this game today,” said Prospect sophomore Rosie Pettunuzo, who moved from her customary spot in the midfield to the back line to take over for the injured Trisha Benson, “and I think once we game out of that second lightning delay, we finally played with the type of energy we needed to in order to win tonight.”
Prospect appeared to be in a bit of trouble in the early stages as the Grens (5-3-0, 3-2-0) carved out a few quality chances, including a header from Nikki Zaino that sprayed wide.
There was also a marvelous too-hot-to-handle attempt on frame from Sarah Stram, which Knights keeper Eileen McTigue pushed over the bar at 13 minutes.
“That first 15 minutes or so was the best we’ve played this season so far, and I have to wonder what the outcome would have been if we had put one or two of those great chances in the back of the net,” said Grens coach Dan Klaus.
Midway through intermission, the Thor-guard sounded. That extended the break by the required 25 minutes.
Seven minutes into the second period, another warning sent both teams out of the stadium until the all-clear was heard.
Once back on the pitch, the Grens grabbed the lead on a superb individual effort from Kelly Naughton, which ended when the senior fired in from a seemingly impossible angle at the near post.
“I really felt we had gained the momentum on that goal, and that we were in good shape at that point,” Naughton said. “But we gave it away too quickly after a bad foul on my part gave them a free kick.”
Emily Novak stepped up and drove her spot kick from the edge over the Grens’ wall to level things in the 64th minute.
That gave the Knights (9-1-2, 4-1-1-13 points) the lead for good 10 minutes after her equalizer. On the turn, the junior pulled the ball onto her left shooting boot before unloading a blast which went just inside the far post from 22 yards.
“What can you say about those two goals? They were quality goals for sure,” Klaus said.
Naughton, Zaino, Stram and Emily Wary were doggedly persistent for the Grens, who pushed forward in search of drawing even. But their hopes were dashed when Sarah LaCost headed a wonderful helper from Rachel Suarez up and over keeper Melissa Solorio from in close.
The victory keeps the Knights within 5 points of Buffalo Grove, which rolled past Wheeling 7-0 on Friday.
“Buffalo Grove has a big game on Sunday in the final of the Pepsi Showdown, then another one with us on Monday, and we’re all looking forward to that,” Novak said.
Buffalo Grove 7, Wheeling 0: Sara Busse produced 2 goals and 2 assists and Kelli Zickert had 3 assists and scored once to power the unbeaten Bison in Mid-Suburban East play.
Skylar Groth, Colleen Zickert, Megan Gardner and Karla DiViesti also had goals for the Bison (13-0-1).
Naperville Invitational: Palatine and Naperville Central tied 2-2, but the Redhawks advanced after a 6-5 edge in penalty kicks. In the other game at Naperville Central, Wheaton Warrenville South edged St. Viator 2-1.
At Naperville North, the hosts Huskies topped Lincoln-Way Central 7-1 and Fremd beat Waubonsie Valley 1-0.
At Barrington, the host Fillies topped Evanston 4-0, and Rockford Boylan defeated Lake Zurich by the same score.
In games at Wheaton North, New Trier beat Benet 2-1 and Wheaton North got past Geneva 1-0.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.