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updated: 4/25/2013 9:23 PM

Unbeaten in 7 straight, Vernon Hills maturing quickly

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By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

Vernon Hills certainly has a young girls soccer team this spring. It's also a group wise beyond its years.

The Cougars made it seven straight unbeaten games after a 3-1 road win at Lakes on Thursday afternoon in a North Suburban Prairie Division game.

Katherine Koczwara scored twice, with freshman Erin VanDemerkt assisting on both. Kaitlin Gramins knocked in the other Vernon Hills goal.

"It all comes on great passes," said Koczwara, who has scored 7 goals this spring. "Both of them were from Erin (VanDermerkt). It's just a lot people being unselfish around the box.

"Last year, we were a young team with a lot of freshmen. Now a number of us are sophomores and we only lost two seniors. We are just able to get used to each other from playing last year."

Vernon Hills (6-3-1, 3-0) has three remaining games left in divisional play. The Cougars visit Wauconda at 11 a.m. Saturday before playing make-up games; they'll host Grant (6-5, 4-1) on Tuesday and play at Antioch (6-5-1, 2-1) on Wednesday. The Sequoits are still in the running for a Lake title and have games left against VH, Round Lake and North Chicago.

The Cougars knew they were in for a battle taking on the Eagles (6-6, 4-2) on their own grass field Thursday.

"Lakes is always a good team and we missed some chances at the beginning," Vernon Hills coach Vince Deluca said. "We hit the post and had our chances. (Lakes) did a good job defensively and closed down fast on us.

"They're always well coached, and it all worked out."

Koczwara scored the first goal off VanDemerkt's assist in the 33rd minute. Then, with the same combination, Koczwara netted her second goal in the 57th minute for a 2-0 Cougars advantage.

Lakes cut the lead to 2-1 less than a minute later as Mikaela Brown scored on a penalty kick after an Eagles player was knocked down in the penalty area.

The Cougars added an insurance goal from Gramins with an assist from Amy Andrea in the 63rd minute.

"(Vernon Hills) was better and has great team speed," Lakes coach Kevin Kullby said. "They were winning most of the loose balls out there. I give them a lot of credit.

"I thought we defended very well in the first half and defended some of their tough chances. Second half, we got something back and created some danger. As soon as we thought we would get something, they get a second goal. It's tough to come back from that even though we did get a one on a penalty kick."

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