CRYSTAL LAKE – The Prairie Ridge girls soccer team knew it had a big task Tuesday night. The Wolves were heading to Crystal Lake South to take on the Gators, who were hosting their senior night and were undefeated in Fox Valley Conference Valley Division play.
That didn’t faze the Wolves, who played what coach JC Brown said was their best game of the season.
The Wolves (11-6-1 overal, 5-1 FVC Valley) defeated South, 6-2, earning a share of the FVC Valley title with the Gators.
“Our team came together at the perfect time,” senior captain Ali Fanning said. “We wanted to show everyone that we could do it, and I definitely think we proved ourselves today.”
Larissa Dooley opened the scoring in the first half on a breakaway goal that beat South goalkeeper Jaclyn Przybylski. Five minutes later, Wolves midfielder Cassie Warton curled in a corner kick, making it 2-0.
With 1:05 remaining in the first half, Gators freshman defender Jenna Ross was injured in an on-ball collision with Dooley and did not get up. Ross was taken off on a stretcher with a neck injury and transported to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington and then later transferred to Lutheran General in Park Ridge, where she will have an MRI and be examined by a pediatric surgeon.
The game was delayed about 25 minutes because of the injury. Play resumed and the Wolves took a two-goal lead into the break.
“We knew they were going to come out strong and we didn’t do a great job of being ready for it,” Brown said of his team’s second-half start.
The second half turned out to have a crazy start. South (12-3-4, 5-1) struck just two minutes into the second half when senior defender Audrey Collard scored on a shot that deflected off a Wolves defender and beat goalkeeper Brooke Laibly.
However, the Wolves came right back when forward Erin Ginsberg scored on a left-footed shot off an assist from Warton. Then, three minutes later, the Gators cut the deficit back to one on a goal from Kimmy Sulikowski.
A few minutes after the South goal, Ginsberg had another chance, which hit the post and fell right to sophomore forward Megan Walsh, who buried the shot into an empty net, giving the Wolves a 4-2 lead. Walsh added a second goal late in the game.
“Prairie Ridge wanted it more than we did tonight,” Gators coach Jay Mueller said. “They wanted a share of the title, and they played like it.”
Ginsberg added another assist to Dooley, who scored her second of the game with 21 minutes left.
“Our team is scary when we play together,” Dooley said. “We’re peaking at the right time, and we hope we can make another deep run into the playoffs.”