ROCKFORD -- One of the key points of emphasis for the Huntley girls soccer team as it headed into the postseason was doing its job offensively.
Red Raiders' coach Kris Grabner hoped to see his team break out of its scoring funk and the work in practice over the past 2 weeks has seemingly been effective.
The Red Raiders improved to a 12-0 advantage over their opponents in the playoffs with a 5-0 win in Wednesday's Class 3A Rockford Auburn sectional semifinal over Fox Valley Conference foe McHenry.
The scoring margin was inflated due to a second 5-goal performance, as sophomore midfielder Taryn Jakubowski led the Red Raiders (18-6) with 1 goal and 2 assists, while forwards Katie Costantino and Alyssa Kaufman added a goal and an assist each. Defender Rachel Zobott and forward Deanna Hecht each added a goal and Jessica Helm tallied an assist to round out the scoring as Huntley outshot McHenry 13-3, which included a 2-goal lead at the half.
Huntley will seek its first sectional crown against Harlem at 5 p.m. Friday, in a rematch of an April 5 tilt at Huntley which Harlem won 2-1.
"The big difference is we've spent so much time working on it, we've spent a ton of time working on finishing, working on combinations, working in the final third," Grabner said. "(Five) goals against Jacobs; we've scored three goals on directly what we've worked on and then to come out against South and put two on them -- a really good defensive team -- outside of the six they gave to Prairie Ridge, they just didn't allow goals. So put to two on them and do this today, I think it kind of gets us going, gives us a little confidence that we will be put the ball in the back of the net when we need to."
The Red Raiders definitely came out confident and aggressive, and wasted little time getting into the scoring column, which was the opposite in the previous matchup against McHenry (15-8), where Huntley waited until the 74th minute to bounce the Warriors 1-0.
This time, Huntley's first goal came roughly 6 minutes in after a beautiful right corner kick served by Costantino that Zobott sneaked inside the left post to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead.
Huntley made it 2-0 in the 27th minute thanks to Helm, who secured a ball out of the air in the box and touched it over to Jakubowski who found the back of the net.
"Jessica worked really hard to get me the ball," said Jakubowski, who saw McHenry goalie Gracie Holmes a little uneasy. "We just had more connection, we had a motivation that we had to get this done and we did it."
Jakubowski was far from done as she served up a cross out of the left corner to Costantino in the box, who provided the header in front for a 3-0 lead with 24 minutes remaining.
"I think my team all wanted it, we were ready to go," Costantino said. "We knew we had to give whatever we had no matter what it was and on offense we connected real well, just finished really well."
Kaufman scored her goal 3 minutes later off a Jakubowski assist and Kaufman then set up Hecht with 5 minutes remaining to a cap a 3-goal second half.
"We made some defensive mistakes we haven't made in a while that you just can't do against a team as good as Huntley," McHenry coach Greg Eiserman said. "There's no shame in losing to a team like that, they're a good team, (Grabner) does a great job over there, has loads of talent, the goal was to make them earn it a little more than we they did."
It was hard for the Warriors and their midfield standouts Avalon Senn-Raemont and Alexis Morales to really get any chances. McHenry didn't get a legitimate chance on goal until early in the second half, but Jessica Galason's 3 saves held up for her 18th shutout as the Huntley defense was stout as usual.
"When a team has a player like Avalon and Rosales, they're just so dangerous," Grabner said. "To shut those two down, they had two good opportunities, to do that kind of defense and then to put five on the board I think that's good."