Naperville Central isn't used to having its back against the wall, but the Redhawks were there during Wednesday's DuPage Valley Conference match against visiting Glenbard North.
The Redhawks needed a victory, and a newcomer answered.
Thanks to a crucial net-finder from freshman Meredith McGuire in the waning seconds of the first half, that much-needed win became a reality in a 1-0 victory.
"That's about all we can do," Naperville Central coach Ed Watson said. "It's find a goal and hold on. We need our kids up front to score goals because we don't score a lot of them and have to find them whenever we can."
Naperville Central (5-4-4, 3-1-0) finally made the Panthers pay for their inability to turn around corner kick opportunities, which were plentiful.
While halftime was just moments away, there was still enough time for McGuire to deliver the match's lone huge blow.
"My teammates were able to get around the ball and get a pass through the defense," she said. "I was able to get a good shot and we were able to get it in."
Earlier in the week, the Redhawks enjoyed a 1-0 lead against Wheaton Warrenville South but gave up a goal in the final 10 minutes and then lost in overtime. That match apparently hung strong in their heads.
"We knew there was a lot on the line tonight," McGuire said. "We realized we had to come out and use what we worked on in practice."
Glenbard North really didn't create much offense to pose a threat to the Redhawks. The Panthers' best chances came in the second half, but even their seemingly open shots on goal were pressured and easily saved.
"We didn't play well and didn't play our game like we normally do," Panthers coach David Stanfield said. "We can connect more passes than that, but they're a tough team and they press you. We didn't use the flanks and we didn't spread the offense like we've done this season, so I'm very disappointed."
Afterward, Watson noted that the Redhawks have never lost to the Panthers. While historically that's notable, remaining in the DVC race is more timely and of utmost importance for the Panthers.
"We talked to the girls (Wednesday) and explained the scenarios," he said. "We know we have to do whatever we can to win."