NAPERVILLE – In the midst of its first winning season in more than six years, Johnsburg’s girls soccer team could have been complacent with a Class 1A state semifinal appearance.
However, when the Skyhawks took the field Friday at North Central College their singular focus was centered on giving perennial state title contender Quincy Notre Dame all it could handle. Through the first 28 minutes, Johnsburg kept pace in a 1-1 game with the attacking Raiders. But eventually Notre Dame took advantage of lapses in the defense and took control with a two-goal halftime lead en route to a 5-2 win against the Skyhawks.
Johnsburg plays Alton (Marquette) in the Class 1A third-place game at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“These kids don’t stop, they keep fighting,” Skyhawks coach Rob Eastland said. “We came here to attack them and we did. It was fun to watch my kids play in front of a crowd in a stadium like this and enjoy the moment.”
The Skyhawks (14-7) struggled at times to keep possession, but a beautiful run set up Johnsburg’s first goal. Sarah Weaver’s perfect through ball split Notre Dame’s defenders and set up Pruitt for a one-on-one situation against Raiders goalkeeper Julie Rabe. Pruitt didn’t waste the opportunity. The sophomore forward delivered a strike that hit off the inside of the right post into the back of the net to tie the game, 1-1. Pruitt’s goal was the first Notre Dame’s starting defense allowed this postseason.
Pruitt added another goal with 5:20 left in the game, converting a penalty kick after Notre Dame was whistled for a penalty in the box.
“We just want to come out [against Alton] and play hard, have fun and try to get third place,” Pruitt said. “We just need to do the best we can do.”
Johnsburg had an opportunity to score first less than two minutes into the game on a nifty pass to the front of the net from Pruitt to Allie Layton, whose header landed in the arms of Rabe.
Notre Dame’s 6-foot-2 forward Jordan Frericks caused matchup problems for Johnsburg’s defense with a backline that didn’t feature player taller than 5-foot-9. Fredicks’ header off a corner kick gave Notre Dame the lead less than three minutes after Johnsburg tied the game. But a tough goal off the left foot of Notre Dame’s Cassidy Foley that landed in the left corner of the net put the Skyhawks in a difficult spot trailing by two goals with 4:27 remaining in the first half.
“Hats off to Johnsburg, we knew they would be a team that battled,” Notre Dame coach Mark Longo said. “When you play a lot of 3A schools, you don’t back down from a little 1A school, so we knew we were going to have to come out and play and we did. To their credit, they didn’t quit.”
Johnsburg caught an unlucky break on Notre Dame’s first goal. Ericka Obert’s shot deflected off a Skyhawks defender to redirect the shot into the net. Johnsburg goalkeeper Kadie Calmeyer (nine saves) appeared in position to stop the initial shot, but the deflection had just enough on it to cross the goal line.
“It was an ugly goal, and I thought we were doing really well up to that point,” Eastland said. “It didn’t faze them. They just kept playing.”