Early goal lifts Prairie Ridge

CRYSTAL LAKE – The way the Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge girls soccer teams played defense Thursday made one goal seem like three.

Neither team got many clean looks at the net, but in the 20th minute, the host Wolves’ Kelsey Bear found some rare room about 20 feet from the net and fired a high shot with her right foot that came down just over leaping Trojans goalkeeper Caylie Jones.

That goal held up for Prairie Ridge, which downed the Trojans, 1-0, in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division match.

“I kind of knew that would be the only goal,” Wolves coach JC Brown said. “Games against Cary are such a big rivalry, it’s whoever scores first. I just knew we needed to hunker down on defense [after the goal] and not give them any opportunities.”

The Wolves (6-2-1 overall, 2-0 FVC Valley) stuck to that game plan and allowed just four shots on goal – two in each half. The Wolves entered the match focused on shutting down Kate Boyd, the Trojans’ most explosive offensive player.

Boyd has great speed and solid ball-handling skills, and Brown wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be the one to hurt the Wolves during scoring chances, especially late in the game.

With just under 10 minutes remaining, the Trojans (5-3-1, 0-1) tried to get the ball to Boyd in order to tie the score, but the Wolves’ defenders communicated well and shut down the threat.

“We wanted to keep track of Boyd. She’s a great player,” Brown said. “We were always making sure to communicate where she’s at and not giving them those balls that are looking for her. I’ve got that young defense, and they did a great job.”

The shots the Trojans were able to squeeze off were well contested except for one late in the game as Wolves goalkeeper Whitney Whitehouse made an acrobatic diving save, one of her four saves.

“Really, it’s just a frustrating game,” C-G coach Ray Krystal said.

Bear’s goal came on a shot that was relatively uncontested compared to what the Wolves’ other opportunities were like. Erin Ginsberg had a shot hit the side of the net, and Erica Walsh hit a post with a shot while another sailed one over the net because of tough angles. Jones made nine saves.

“They were limiting our looks at the net,” Bear said of the Trojans’ defense. “They have a really solid defense, but our offense was really pressuring them and we kept trying to go hard at the goal. We probably should have gotten a couple more in there, but I’ll take the win.”

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