MACHESNEY PARK – After a first half in which Huntley had several scoring chances but was unable to put the ball in goal, the halftime message from Red Raiders coach Kris Grabner was simple.
Find your paper.
Earlier in the week Grabner and the rest of the Huntley coaching staff conducted a drill in which they hung pieces of paper on the gym wall and had the team shoot at the paper, which represented spots in the goal, for over two hours. That simple message really resonated with the Red Raiders.
Huntley scored just under four minutes into the second half, which opened a scoring barrage, as the Red Raiders defeated McHenry, 6-0, in the first semifinal of the Class 3A Harlem Regional. The Red Raiders advance to the regional championship at 5 p.m. Friday looking for its 11th consecutive regional championship.
Huntley (8-7-2) kept the ball in the McHenry zone the entire first half and kept the pressure on McHenry keeper Abagail Diedrich. The senior was up to the challenge stopping every shot on net in the opening 40 minutes.
“We really knew the first half would be difficult because of the wind,” Grabner said. “We possessed the ball well but everything was right at the keeper.”
The Red Raiders started the scoring in the second half when junior forward Brenna Keegan took a feed from Hannah Scholer and put a header into the back of the net. Keegan scored the second goal and also capped the scoring with just under 15 minutes remaining to complete the first hat trick of her high school career.
“We were creating a lot of opportunities in the first half but needed to keep pressuring consistently and we knew the goals would happen,” Keegan said. “On my first goal I got a really good ball from Hannah [Scholer] and just wanted to head it as hard as I could. I made good contact and was able to put it in the back of the net.”
Braidy Ceh got into the scoring after Keegan’s first two goals to put Huntley up 3-0. Ceh finished with two goals in the match.
“We knew we needed to work the middle more and that would open up more scoring opportunities,” Ceh said. “We did a nice job of moving off the ball in the second half, which opened up a lot of scoring chances.
Alyssa Xanos scored the other goal for the Red Raiders.
McHenry really battled in the first half and kept the game scoreless, but had a difficult time getting the ball out of its zone all afternoon and was unable to attempt a shot on goal. The Warriors finished their season with a record of 1-12-1.
Huntley, So., Mid.
Ceh helped keep the pressure in the McHenry zone all match and finished with two goals.
21:32: Time period in the second half in which Huntley scored all six of its goals.
AND ANOTHER THING...
Huntley constantly peppered McHenry keeper Abagail Diedrichin the first half, but Diedrich was up to the challenge with eight saves to keep the score 0-0 at halftime.