Girls soccer: Central wins battle of Crystal Lake for regional title

Crystal Lake Central's Kaitlin Gaunaurd was impressed Friday by Crystal Lake South's improvement from the teams' regular-season meeting.

South, with the help of keeper Madison Zilm, held off the Tigers for nearly the entire first half until Gaunaurd scored with 2:59 remaining.

The senior's goal was the first of two during a 5-0 win in the Class 2A Crystal Lake South Regional championship.

The Tigers will play the winner of Belvidere North and Freeport in a Class 2A Freeport Sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Still scoreless late in the first half, Gaunaurd received the ball from Sadie Quinn just outside the box and pushed it past Zilm to open the scoring. Gannaurd added her second goal within the first five minutes of the second half when she took a shot from inside the box to slip it into the net.

"This felt great," Gaunaurd said. "We had a lot of opportunities and we got a finish on them. We played South earlier in the season and they came out a totally different team. We knew we had to come out hard."

Central (15-0) held onto the 2-0 lead until the final 10 minutes, when they tallied three more scores.

Sam Sanders scored an unassisted goal with 8:29 left. Two minutes later, Jillian Mueller scored off an assist from Katie Barth, and they reversed roles with three minutes remaining when Mueller assisted Barth's goal.

"We knew that South was good and were not going to be giving up anything," Tigers coach Sarah Fack said. "We knew it wasn't going to end at 1-0. We talked about a few things, like playing smart, and just playing our game, and I think that's what they did second half."

South, which previously lost to Central, 5-0, during Fox Valley Conference play, put up a fight Friday before fading late.

"(Zilm) did a really good job at taking goal kicks and long balls," Quinn said. "We had to readjust our midfield off that for the second half."

Zilm had 12 saves in the first half and three in the second.

"They were able to get a lot of shots on net," Zilm said of Central. "They connect really well to each other."

South ended its season 7-11-1 overall. Coach Kyle McCaughn said he proud of his players and hopeful for the future.

"From where we were last year, we returned a lot of kids," McCaughn said. "The growth from the beginning to the end of this year was incredible. We lose five quality seniors after this year, but we have kids that want to fill those spots and want to work hard and to try to live up to their shoes. One win last year, seven wins this year, double digits next year."

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