Strong second half leads Prairie Ridge past Johnsburg

CRYSTAL LAKE – The field conditions did not bode well for either Johnsburg or Prairie Ridge to play along with their usual game plan on Tuesday. Every step felt like a swamp and a majority of players were covered head to toe in mud by the game’s end.

Prairie Ridge used a two-goal second half to lead the Wolves past Johnsburg, 3-1, in the Fox Valley Conference crossover game.

“We just wanted the girls to keep it simple,” Wolves assistant coach Jeremy Palese said of the halftime message. “I think the girls took what we talked about at the break, and finished the game strong.”

That halftime message came with the game tied at 1. Prairie Ridge (5-3) opened the scoring with a cross from Erica Walsh, finished off in the middle by junior midfielder Cassie Warton.

Johnsburg’s goal came on a series of moves from last year’s McHenry County Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Delaney Pruitt, who finished a strike from well outside the box, beating Prairie Ridge goalkeeper Brooke Laibly.

“I was proud of the way our girls played tonight,” Skyhawks coach Rob Eastland said. “Sure, the result wasn’t a win, but these games do not mean that much until conference season starts. I saw what I need today and I think we’re ready for what’s ahead.”

Coming out of the halftime break, Prairie Ridge scored on a rebound off a save from Skyhawks goalkeeper Amy Majercik. Wolves midfielder Shannon Patinella found the loose ball and put in the net to give Prairie Ridge a 2-1 lead.

“We wanted to stay aggressive coming out of halftime,” Patinella said. “We had some chances in the first half and we just wanted to finish those in the second, which we did.”

Johnsburg (2-5) was able to keep the pressure on for a good portion of the second half until Prairie Ridge converted on a counter-attack. A through ball was played ahead, behind the Skyhawk defense, allowing sophomore forward Megan Walsh to run onto the end of it.

Walsh sealed the Wolves’ victory with 10 minutes remaining.

Both teams are back in action on Thursday as Johnsburg opens up conference play, hosting Grayslake North, while Prairie Ridge heads to Crystal Lake Central in another crossover game.