Elk Grove lights up scoreboard to net first league win

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/20/2022 9:50 PM

Jennifer Benitez and Caroline Hadler each scored twice to help Elk Grove claim its first victory in league play this season over visiting Wheeling on a dreadfully cold and rainy Wednesday night.

The Grens attack awoke from a season-long nap by scoring five times in the first half, with Benetiz and Hadler leading the way. The Grens added another three after the break to record a 8-0 MSL East Division win.


"Our chemistry and communication as a team has been much better, so it felt good to finally score some goals to help us get our first win in conference," said Benitez, who followed Hadler's opener at three minutes with her goals in the 12th and 21st minutes.

"We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on our team this year, so it's taking us a while to sort things out, but I feel like we're getting better with each game that we play," the senior Benitez added.

"(It) was a win long overdue for this team," Elk Grove coach Gabby Whittinghill said. "One of the great things about this team in our chemistry (there) is a lot of support for each other, which is very important on a team that has so many young players on our roster."

Hadler, a freshman, made it 4-0 in the 25th minute, then Catherine Kaczowka placed her name in the scorebook with a wicked, angled blast from 16 yards at 34 minutes.

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Elk Grove (3-7-2, 1-3-0) was victimized throughout by Wildcats keepers Jenni Mondragon and Diane Gonzalez after halftime. Both came to the rescue with each making a handful of marvelous goal-saving stops on close-range efforts from the Grens.

"Jenni had a good first half for us, but she took sick, so Arli came in and did a wonderful job for us, and did. Sheila Juarez, Julia Nava and Scarlett Patricio along the back who fought hard all night long, playing with a lot of heart and desire," said Wildcats coach Kevin Lennon.

"This group really impresses (me) with its desire to work hard to be better, and there is never any quit in them. They play hard right up until the final whistle, which says a lot about each and everyone of them."

Benitez could have had her third of the game if not for a sharp save by Gonzalez just after halftime, as could have Hadler, who saw her attempt turned away after she tricked her way into the box.


However, Gonzalez could do nothing when freshman Mia Jones netted the Grens' sixth goal in the 63rd minute, and Kayce Wadas tallied three minutes later.

Sophomore Maggie Maher added icing on the Grens' victory when she went into the back of the net six minutes from full time.

"I really liked the way we played in the back tonight, with our outside backs Ava Henning and Benitez also getting into the attack, while our center-back duo of Ella and Lilianna Duckmann helping keep us organized all night," Whittinghill said.

Next up for the Grens will be Buffalo Grove this Friday on the road, while the Wildcats (0-12-1, 0-6-0) host Hoffman Estates on the same day.

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