FREEPORT – The Prairie Ridge girls soccer team's defenders have a saying when the offense scores early.
They like to remind themselves to not let the lead get to their heads, and that a quick goal allowed can change the momentum quickly.
With Bri Fenton scoring on a Kelsey Bear assist less than a minute into the Wolves' 3-0 win over Rosary in a Class 2A Freeport Sectional semifinal Wednesday, the defense found itself in that scenario.
"When [the offense] scores really fast, we get pumped up, then we're also really scared that we might let it go," Wolves defender Ali Fanning said. "We like to yell, 'First five!' so we play our hearts out for the first five minutes so there's no chance they can come back and get a goal in."
Fanning, Hallie Simons and Jordan Reitz led Prairie Ridge's defensive effort, holding Rosary to four shots on goal. Fanning was told by Wolves coach J.C. Brown to mark Rosary's best player, forward Quincy Kellett, and Fanning held Kellett to one shot.
Brown said his defense communicates well, and Fanning said the unit has learned to play together throughout the season.
"We can all talk to each other. We can depend on each other," Fanning said. "If the ball goes back, we know whoever goes back can go get it."
After scoring early, the Wolves (16-2-1) added seven more shots on goal in the first half, but Brown said the team became too relaxed with a one-goal lead.
"They didn't think they would score that soon, so they got a little too confident," Brown said. "We really didn't execuite our game plan that rest of that half."
The Wolves responded to Brown's halftime instructions, continuing to attack after scoring early. Erica Walsh scored two minutes into the second half for Prairie Ridge's second goal, and the Wolves followed it minutes later with Rosary scoring an own goal.
Cassie Warton placed her corner kick right in the middle of the goal box, where it was knocked around before deflecting in off a Rosary defender.
"In the second half, we picked it up," Fenton said. "We knew one goal was still shaky. We needed to put more in, not just that first goal in the beginning."
Prairie Ridge faces Sycamore or Freeport at 6 p.m. Friday in the sectional championship. After the Wolves lost to Freeport last season in a sectional final, Brown said the team is looking for redemption.
"Hopefully," he said, "we come in with revenge."