Girls soccer: Grayslake Central earns share of NLCC title with Lakes

Just one week ago, Lakes Community would tighten its grip on the Northern Lake Country Conference crown after consecutive victories over its closest challengers: Wauconda and Grayslake Central.

With both clubs chasing the Eagles heading into the final few days of the regular season, each was tossed a lifeline of sorts when Grayslake North beat the Eagles on Tuesday, throwing the league race up for grabs - and now making the Wauconda-Grayslake Central season finale one of major importance.

Thursday night at Ray Porten Athletic Field, Grayslake Central took full advantage of this glorious opportunity by defeating host Wauconda, 1-0, to claim a share of the NLCC title with Lakes, who earlier in the evening beat Grant.

"Ever since I came here three years ago, winning a conference title was a big goal for all of us. (So) this is a great night for all of us," said junior Sara Armstrong, who along with teammates Madison Hoffman, Ava Ramsey and Avalyn Woods were key figures for the Rams (7-10-1).

The win gives Central the same 6-1-0 record in league play along with Lakes, and its first league title.

"We've never beaten Wauconda, so this was a big win all the way around," said Rams coach Kevin Andersson, whose club will now have 12 days off as it begins to prepare for its 2A regional opener against Resurrection May 16.

"(Grayslake) was just a little better than us, so it was fair result tonight," said Bulldogs coach Beau Shogren, who had hoped a win in his regular season finale would be enough to squeeze his Bulldogs (6-4-3, 4-2-1) back in the title race should Grant upset Lakes.

"We did some good things out there tonight, but (they) defended really well in front of their keeper and really allowed us one or two quality chances during the entire game," continued Shogren.

Next up for the Bulldogs will be their regional opener at the Carmel Catholic venue May 16 against Vernon Hills.

Avalyn Woods' game-winner came just three minutes before the intermission when the junior ran onto a long deep throw from Madison Hoffman - which spilled free just outside the box - where Woods unloaded an unstoppable left-footed one-timer into the opposite corner.

"I rarely have the chance to take shots from my usual position as our defensive midfielder. (But) I was moved into a more attacking spot tonight so it was amazing to be able to put one into the back of the net for us tonight," said Woods, a junior.

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