Girls soccer: Cary-Grove battles for Burlington Central regional crown
Cary-Grove kept pushing until the Trojans finally broke through different obstacles against Woodstock North on Saturday.
Despite an over two-hour weather delay, tough playing conditions and plenty of close scoring chances, the Trojans fought on until they finally broke loose, taking down the Thunder, 3-1, to win the Class 2A Burlington Central regional title.
"It's a battle," Cary-Grove coach Ray Krystal said. "You have to keep battling, whether it's tactically, physically, mentally, all those battles and having the belief that you'll overcome it."
Both teams adjusted to a slick field after a two-hour, seven-minute delay to the start the match because of lightning in the area. Like their regular-season matchup that had a sloppy field and constant rain, both teams adjusted and made sure to get any ball to the net.
Avery Nielsen broke the scoreless match for the Trojans (10-7) when she knocked in a goal off a shot that rebounded off Thunder goalkeeper Sammi Maldonado and went into the net with 17:48 left in the first half.
The Thunder tied it with 37:56 left in the match when Gracie Zankle knocked in a penalty kick after a foul in the box.
Both teams became more aggressive and created different scoring chances that wouldn't go in until Nielsen scored the game-winner on a ball that slid through with 16:35 left. Katie Jannusch gave the Trojans an insurance goal when she scored on the move on a ball that just crept into the corner of the net with 12:18 left in the match.
C-G didn't look too much into its previous match against Woodstock North because both teams had grown since their early season match, but the Trojans applied the same strategy of getting any ball to the net because anything can happen in slick conditions.
"Whatever happens, happens," Nielsen said. "It was a slick field, so it's kind of just get to the goal. ... I'll take it."
Woodstock North (13-7) coach John Sullivan said his team's earlier match against the Trojans helped prepare the Thunder for Saturday. He thought his team played a complete match, but like in the Thunder's first match against the Trojans, the shots just didn't find the back of the net.
"We fought until the end," Sullivan said. "The conditions weren't great and we adapted. That's a heck of a Cary-Grove team and it's been an absolute pleasure coaching this group of girls."
C-G will play Boylan Catholic (17-1) on Tuesday in a Class 2A Freeport sectional semifinal after the Titans defeated Rochelle, 8-0, on Friday. The Trojans return to the sectional semifinal round after losing last season in the Class 3A tournament.
Nielsen thought the chemistry her team has built in its two regional matches was the reason why the Trojans won Saturday. C-G hopes to use that chemistry as it continues to battle through in the postseason.
"It's going to be a tough game, it's going to be a good opponent," Krystal said, "and we just need to be out there to give our best effort."