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Gators send Skyhawks to first loss

CRYSTAL LAKE – On a cool, hazy afternoon when it was tough to make out objects across the Crystal Lake South athletics fields, the Gators’ girls soccer team had no trouble finding the net through the soft drizzle.

The Gators had the perfect mix of offensive pressure and defense in a 4-0 Fox Valley Conference crossover win against Johnsburg (3-1) Thursday. They held the Skyhawks to two shots on goal while racking up 19 of their own, 12 of which came in the first half.

“I was really impressed with the girls’ consistency,” South coach Anne Santucci said.“It was probably the most complete game we’ve had.”

The Gators (5-1-1) had the ball in their own offensive zone for the majority of the game and continued to pressure the Skyhawks’ defense throughout the game.

Whenever the forwards and midfielders had an open look, they would take a shot, and even if they didn’t they would shoot to keep the pressure on.

Kim Sulikowski scored the first goal for the Gators in the ninth minute and Bree Marshall tacked on another before the half. Amy Sulikowski scored the third goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, and Audrey Collard capped the scoring with a goal in the 61st minute.

“We tried to just keep pushing all game long,” said midfielder Mackenzie Taldone who helped stretch the field, “and our defense really stepped up. They allowed us to do what we did on offense.”

Johnsburg goalkeeper Kelsey Stefka made her first start of the season and had to face a barrage of shots. With two minutes to go in the first half, Stefka faced four shots within a matter of seconds and blocked all four right in front of the goal.

“She got thrown into the deep end there and despite the four goals she did a really, really great job,” Skyhawks coach Rob Eastland said. “You’d like your first start to be against a team other than a talented team like South, but we’ll make sure she’ll have confidence from this [match].”

On the flip side, the South goalkeepers tried to stay sharp amid a lack of action. Kiley Britten and Jaclyn Przybylski acted more like on-field coaches than the last line of defense against Johnsburg.

It wasn’t until the 18th minute that Britten faced her first and only shot, and after Santucci replaced Britten with Przybylski at the half, she too faced only one shot, which came more than halfway through the second.

“I just make sure to yell and talk to the team throughout and help get them in the right place” Britten said. “It’s encouraging for me to be talking and it helps me to stay in the game.”

Her teammates enjoy their vocal goalkeeper as they help the defenders and midfielders to stay in position as Britten and Przybylski have a view of the entire field.

“It’s nice to hear them, so we know that they’re still in the game,” said Gators defender Emily Schoenfeldt. “They’re always there with us and I always hear them talk. It helps to make sure we’re communicating and trusting each other, which was a big part of today’s game.”

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