Girls soccer: Cary-Grove blanks Huntley
Cary-Grove players relied on something they've told themselves all season when they couldn't score against Huntley on Thursday night.
The Trojans came close to scoring multiple times against the Red Raiders but couldn't find a way until they finally broke through thanks to a goal from Avery Nielsen late in the first half.
Cary-Grove kept pushing for much of the match and picked up a 2-0 Fox Valley Conference win.
"Our team is 'keep going, keep going' until we get those results," Nielsen said. "I don't think we gave up at all during this game and I think that showed when we were able to get those really great opportunities."
Both teams struggled to gain much momentum in the first half as neither team could get a feel for how they wanted to attack the net. Cary-Grove (6-6, 4-2 FVC) started to move the ball up more as the half progressed and had two chances -- one a throw-in, the other a free kick -- just outside the box with around 10 minutes left in the first half, but the Trojans couldn't capitalize.
Cary-Grove continued to push the ball and didn't give up, with Nielsen scoring almost a minute after a failed attempt when she knocked a ball in off a scramble in front of the net with 6:22 left in the first half.
The Trojans kept the momentum up for the rest of the first half and much of the second half, finding passing lanes and creating more chances. Nielsen scored her second goal of the match off of a corner kick with 4:05 left in the match.
Cary-Grove's defense earned a shutout thanks to strong play from goalkeeper Emily Larry, who played just her second match in net this season because both of the Trojans' netminders were out with injuries.
Larry finished the match with four saves.
"She's just an amazing teammate," Cary-Grove coach Ray Krystal said of his fill-in goalkeeper. "She's willing to do whatever she can to help the team. To do it at such a high-pressure position, to be willing and do a great job of being a great goalkeeper."
Huntley (6-6-1, 2-3 FVC) remained stymied by its inability to capitalize on its chances. The Red Raiders created different looks for much of the second half and created pressure for the Trojans, but Huntley couldn't find a way to knock in a goal.
Coach Matt Lewandowski is still trying to find a way to fix something that's been hanging over his team for much of the season.
"We're running and doing all the things, but it's kind of like a storm cloud hanging over our heads with the lack of scoring," Lewandowski said. "We've been creating opportunities, we've been getting there, but we haven't been finishing. In soccer, it's just a storm cloud. It's hard to get out of it."
Huntley returns to conference play against Hampshire on Tuesday while Cary-Grove will host Jacobs the same day. The Trojans remain a match behind Crystal Lake Central for the FVC lead after the Tigers defeated Crystal Lake South on Thursday afternoon.
Cary-Grove players are confident they know what it takes to not only compete for a conference crown but also make a deep run in the postseason.
"The positivity in working together and finding a way to win," Krystal said. "That's the playoffs and that's the goal for every group at this point."