Team-building drills lead Crystal Lake Central to victory

McHENRY — The Crystal Lake Central girls soccer team went back to the basics last week in an attempt to come together as a team and get its season moving in the right direction.

After a week of teambuilding drills, the Tigers came out with a renewed effort and beat McHenry, 2-1, in a Fox Valley Conference crossover game.

“I thought the girls on the field and on the bench were more into the game,” Central coach Jay Schwarzrock said.                

“You can see it in the way they are passing, and the connections they are making. We didn’t have that in the prior two games, I think all that teambuilding work is starting to catch on.”

The Tigers (4-3) got the scoring started with less than 10 minutes gone in the game. Katie Beck went around the outside of a few McHenry defenders, then cut back inside with the hopes of finding a teammate with a cross.

The pass didn’t find a teammate, but it did find a McHenry defender in the right spot, as it deflected past McHenry goalkeeper Gracie Holmes and in for an own goal.

The game remained 1-0 until early in the second half, when Beck again delivered a cross, finding teammate Riley Hudak this time. Hudak collected the pass then found Maddie West, who curled the shot in for a goal.

“We wanted to win as a team today, and at practice we have been doing a lot of things like holding hands (to move together). I think it helped us learn how to play together,” Beck said.

The Warriors (4-2) brought the pressure after going down 2-0 and had several great scoring chances, but Central goalkeeper Caitlyn Dayton came up large with a few big saves. She finished with 11.

“I tell you what, I sleep easy knowing she’s [Dayton] is in goal,” Schwarzrock said. “I think I’m a bit spoiled when I see shots and I immediately expect a save, it’s such a joy to have her.”

McHenry did inch closer with 20 minutes left, when a cross from Alexis Morales found Kelsie Kirchner and Lexi Vargas inside the Tigers’ box. Vargas took a deflection from Kirchner and scored for the Warriors. Holmes made seven saves for the Warriors.

“I thought the whole second half was McHenry-style soccer, but when you give up a bad goal, it all of a sudden becomes mental,” McHenry coach Greg Eiserman said.

“We didn’t come out with urgency to start the game, but I was glad we were down to see what we are made of, and I was really happy with our response. It just didn’t work out in the end.”

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