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updated: 3/20/2017 10:19 PM

York earns spot in Elk Grove finale

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By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was too much Jenna Lundgren and Hailey Walker for girls soccer tournament host Elk Grove, as the Grenadiers fell short Monday afternoon in a bid to advance into the Thursday championship match.

The Grens fell behind early and chased York the rest of the way in a 3-1 decision which sent coach Don Vana's team into the final against Downers Grove North.

"York was big and strong and played with the type of edge every coach would like to have," said Elk Grove coach Dan Klaus. "For our young and inexperienced team, it was a good learning experience out there today."

Elk Grove will play Cary-Grove on Wednesday night for third place.

"We like to go with the attitude of 'defense first' -- and if you can't play that way for us, you're likely going to be on the bench," said Vana, who team improved to 3-0-0. "And today you saw the girls play very strong defensively, and to me, that was the difference in this game. During the first half of the game was our best work offensively. We created some very good chances and probably should have put one or two more into the back of the net. But our one constant was defense, and that's going to win a lot of games for you if you're able to play at a high level."

The Dukes' attack showed few flaws, at least from Klaus' perspective.

"We need to maybe go with a 4-4-2 formation to really make our opponents work more in our end, and if we make that move, we can put one of our better attacking and creative players, Emily Sitkowski, either as an outside-mid to take advantage of her left foot, or into the middle alongside Zoe Blomquist," Klaus said. "We will figure it out before Wednesday."

Walker opened the scoring by striking from a nearly impossible angle on the right side after Lundgren helped set up the goal at 10 minutes.

Lundgren and Gaby Uribe in the middle, along with Elizabeth Kowalski, joined the attack out of the back for the Dukes. And junior forward Maggie Bleyer provided strong runs and carries into the Grens' area, creating all sorts of trouble.

Emma Slatter and Emma Simmons did well in the Grens' back line and were even stronger in the second half when Klaus moved Sitkowski alongside the duo.

Lundgren double the Dukes' advantage just after the break when she drove her low, well paced 14-yard blast past a diving Rachel Kandefer, who turned in a strong effort in and around the box to help keep the Grens within striking distance.

Vana was disappointed his club conceded a set-piece goal at 48 minutes with Amanda Sitkowski tucking in her back-post attempt off an Emily Sitkowski corner. But Elk Grove was unable to create anything threatening afterward.

Bleyer finished off the scoring with a wonderful individual effort. It began with an enterprising carry up the left side and ended with a precise finish into the back of the net in the 65th minute.

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