DeKALB -- Huntley girls soccer coach Kris Grabner had a simple explanation for the Red Raiders' 2-1 loss Thursday to Plainfield North in the quarterfinals of the Pepsi Showdown.
"Execution was lacking to an extreme," Grabner said. "When we get set pieces and we can't serve a ball. I don't get that. We can't serve a ball on a dead ball, let alone passing a ball in the run of play. There's nobody to bother you. The ball is sitting there still and we can't hit a long ball. I'm blown away."
In the final 7 minutes of the match with Huntley trailing 2-1, the Red Raiders had a corner kick that landed on top of the net and a free kick 15 yards inside the Tigers' half of the field that never came close to a Huntley player and easily cleared.
Huntley (7-2-1) struggled to maintain possession throughout the match -- making passes too quickly, making passes too late or making passes to no one wearing white.
The Tigers (10-0) took the early lead less than 8 minutes in on free kick just outside the Red Raiders' penalty box. Brooke Polonus' low shot skidded under Huntley goalkeeper Jessica Galason, who was trying to control the ball between her body and the turf at the Northern Illinois University soccer complex. The ball sneaked through Galason's arms and legs and crossed the goal line.
Deanna Hecht tied the match at 1-1 with 30:06 remaining in the second half. The Red Raiders had a little better possession to open the second half and took advantage. Samantha Morin played a high ball over the Tigers' defense. Hecht controlled the ball at the top of the box and beat goalkeeper Erin Wren, who finished with 2 saves.
"I got a great ball played to me and just timed my run," Hecht said. "I realized no one was on me. I saw the goalie was giving me the left side."
The Tigers responded less than 7 minutes later. Heather Handwork touched a Nikki Auble pass into open space. Ashley Handwork used her speed to get past a couple Huntley defenders and then toe-poked the ball past Galason for a 2-1 lead.
"We haven't been scored on much this year and I think we handled it well," Tigers coach Jane Crowe said. "We came back and got another one pretty quickly."
Galason finished with 8 saves.