ROCKFORD – Cary-Grove's Maddie Jannusch has had some trouble finishing corner kicks recently, but the senior defender had no trouble giving the Trojans a boost offensively Tuesday.
Jannusch snuck between two Hononegah defenders at the far post and headed in senior Kailyn Sheehan's corner into the back of the net in the 10th minute to give C-G all the offense it needed.
Sophomore forward Jenna Stayart added a goal with 27 seconds left as the Trojans beat the sixth-seeded Indians, 2-0, in the Class 3A Guilford Sectional semifinals.
The second-seeded Trojans (14-2-1) advanced to play top-seeded Barrington for the championship at 5 p.m. Friday. Barrington defeated C-G, 3-2 (3-1 penalty kicks) in the sectional finals last season and went on to win state for the second year in a row.
"This is so exciting for us," Jannusch said. "This is what we've been wanting all season: a chance to play Barrington again. This is what we've been looking forward to."
Jannusch converted C-G's only shot on goal in the first half with her header.
"Kailyn played a beautiful corner," Jannusch said. "I've had trouble finishing corners the past couple of games, so it felt good to finish that one. I saw the ball come right across the goal, and I was like, 'That's a beautiful ball. I've got to get there.'"
McKenna Sheehan made sure Jannusch's goal would be enough. C-G's senior goalkeeper made five saves, including two that she punched over the crossbar with the wind playing tricks.
Hononegah's Breanna Culver looked to get behind the Trojans' defense late in the first half, but Sheehan charged off the goal line, met Culver halfway in the goal area and made a diving stop with her feet.
With about 14 minutes left in the second half, Hononegah's Abby Hawes took aim on goal from 40 yards out. The shot carried all the way to Sheehan standing on the goal line, and she was able to knock it over the crossbar.
"It was just hard to judge with the wind," McKenna Sheehan said. "If the ball took a bounce, you never knew which way it would fly to. You couldn't really predict where the ball was going."
C-G coach Ray Krystal is used to seeing Sheehan step up in a game's biggest moments.
"That's her stepping up and doing a job she's very proud of," Krystal said. "She's a quality goalkeeper, and saves like that showcase her abilities."
Stayart, facing double teams throughout Tuesday, broke free in the game's final seconds.
"I think we had a lot of chances, but in the first half we couldn't finish," said Stayart, who has 28 goals. "In the second half, we did a nice job of pressuring. It was just hard to get the ball across the goal with the wind, but it was nice to finish it off because I thought we had plenty of chances."
STAR OF THE GAME
McKenna Sheehan, Cary-Grove, sr., GK
Sheehan made five saves in the shutout, punching two balls over the crossbar for the Trojans.
10: Maddie Jannusch scored 10 minutes in to give C-G a 1-0 lead.
AND ANOTHER THING ...
The Trojans will play Barrington in the sectional championship game for the second year in a row. Barrington beat C-G, 3-2 (3-1 PKs) in last year's final and went on to win state.
Class 3A Rockford Guilford Sectional
Cary-Grove 2, Hononegah 0
Hononegah 0 0 – 0
Cary-Grove 1 1 – 2
CG–Jannusch (K. Sheehan), 10th
Goalkeeper saves: Ortiz (H) 3, M. Sheehan (CG) 5