Girls soccer: Lu's goal enough for Palatine to blank Huntley
Palatine used a magnificent second half goal from Ann Lu and some airtight defending from Melanie Simon and her back line teammates to defeat visiting Huntley 1-0 Saturday afternoon in a girls soccer game at Chic Anderson Stadium in Palatine.
This annual nonconference contest produced few quality chances in the first half, but the host Pirates would dominate the first 20 minutes after the break, highlighted by the Lu strike just two minutes into the second period.
"That was just a brilliant goal by Ann," said Palatine head coach Willie Filian, who with this victory now has 299 during an illustrious career for the Pirates' girls program.
Filian has over 370 victories as the boys head coach at Palatine as well.
"It was the second half I was most pleased with," he said. "We tackled well, and went into the 50-50s a lot harder than we did in the first half, but that's something we have to continue to get better at from here on out if we hope to compete in the MSL this season."
The visiting Red Raiders (0-2-1) were looking to erase a loss to Fox Valley Conference rival Cary-Grove last week, and in the early exchanges it appeared coach Mark Lewandowski's club was prepared to do so.
"We came out with a lot of energy, and a willingness to work harder than Palatine in order to do so but that's not something we did after the break, until the last 7-10 minutes of the game," said Lewandowski.
Brady Ceh and sophomore Yetzemany Solis, who both earned plenty of praise from Lewandowski along with Alyssa Xanos, were at the heart of the Red Raiders' attack.
However, whenever the visitors would find entry into the Pirates' area, they would find themselves turned away by the junior Simon and her teammates, who kept the Red Raiders from getting anything dangerous on frame and at keeper Amaya Rivera, who eventually earned the shutout.
"We talked at the break about being more aggressive on the 50-50 balls, and to go harder into our tackles. It's something we've talked about in all of our games, but today it's something we did really well in the second half," said the center-back Simon.
Lu ran freely into the Red Raiders' box and from the spot and redirected Simon's free kick in the 42nd minute.
Olivia Radtke went over the bar six minutes later, while Solis tested Rivera with a low attempt from 30 yards soon thereafter.
A nicely played counter by Avery Fitzgerald to Xanos was stopped short of the box when a sharp tackle by Simon ended the 62nd minute chance.
The home side survived a frantic final 10 minutes in which the Red Raiders threw numbers forward in search of the equalizer to move their spring record to 2-1-0.
"We're without a couple of players who are key players in our lineup who should help us become more organized while helping us hold the ball more which we clearly will need to do when we open play in the MSL after our spring break," said Filian.
Palatine welcomes Hersey on April 3, while Huntley begins preparation for its own invite on Wednesday against Elgin.
"We showed a lot of energy and much more urgency in our play, but not until the last ten minutes or so," said Lewandowski. "The talent and skill is there, but maybe it's just a lack of effort overall. But it's something that I know will come as we continue to train and play together."