HUNTLEY – Huntley midfielder Braidy Ceh sent a pass up the middle of the field toward teammate Taylor Kaufman with the clock winding down in a tie game. Two Marian Central defenders, however, converged on the ball.
Both defenders touched the ball at the same moment and nearly knocked each other down. In the process, the ball squirted behind them to Kaufman, alone behind the defense.
By rule, because the ball was last touched by the defense, Kaufman was not offsides. She took one or two touches and sent it past the goalkeeper with 2:03 remaining in the game.
Moments later, teammate Brenna Keegan scored with 1:12 to go to give Huntley a 2-0 win over Marian after the teams battled through nearly 78 scoreless minutes.
“I knew I had an opportunity,” Kaufman said. “I’d lost a lot of other ones during the game. I was so nervous. I knew I had to stay calm and focus on placement and just shoot.”
Even if she felt nervous, her shot didn’t reveal it – Kaufman's kick was right on the money to the bottom left corner of the net. It was the sophomore's first high school goal.
“The first one was kind of scrappy and it worked out,” Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski said. “I’ll take it, even though I think it’s kind of sketchy.”
The second goal was no fluke.
Junior Hannah Scholer sent a high-arcing free kick into a crowd, and it was the Red Raiders’ Keegan who came away with the last touch for the goal.
“I saw the ball come out loose and I tried to get the first touch on it and volley it in as quick as I can,” Keegan said. “I hit the top corner.”
The Red Raiders (2-3-1) had plenty of chances throughout the game. For most of the snowy afternoon, they couldn’t seem to find a goal. Huntley had multiple free kick chances within scoring distance, but each one was just a few inches too high or too wide.
With about 21 minutes remaining in the match, Kaufman found her way into the goal box with the ball, but had her shot deflected by a defender. Yetzemany Solis had a free kick from 21 yards that was just off target with about 10 minutes to go.
“It was a little frustrating because I knew we had so many chances to go up on this team,” Kaufman said. “But you’ve just got to put the mistakes and the chances you don’t make on the shelf and just restart and refresh.”
Marian (3-3) played nearly a full match of solid defense. In the end, the Hurricanes came away disappointed after the final two minutes.
“We feel like we can defend and we can stay in games,” Marian coach Karl Smith said. “When it comes to us going forward and creating enough chances to get goals, we’re just really struggling.”
Marian finished with only two shots on target. The Hurricanes couldn’t capitalize on their free kick or corner kick chances.
Marian goalkeeper Mackenzie Schwalbach made eight saves in the match and nearly came away with the shutout. Huntley’s Jenna Franklin made one save in the first half, Ashley Lovins made one in the second.
"It’s nice to come out on top and to have two goals out of a game because we’ve struggled to score all year," Lewandowski said.
STAR OF THE GAME
Huntley, So., M
Kaufman scored the game’s first goal with 2:03 remaining on the clock when she slipped past the Marian Central defense.
78: Huntley finally broke a 0-0 tie with two goals after nearly 78 minutes of scoreless soccer Thursday.
AND ANOTHER THING …
A steady snow fell all game long, finally letting up as the match ended. With the recent weather, Marian coach Karl Smith noted that it's tough to work on spacing the soccer field when practices are being forced indoors.
Huntley 2, Marian Central 0
Marian Central 0 0 – 0
Huntley 0 2 – 2
Hunt – Kaufman, 78th minute.
Hunt – Keegan (Scholer), 79th minute.
Goalkeeper saves – Schwalbach (Marian) 8, Franklin (Hunt) 1, Lovins (Hunt) 1.