DEERFIELD – Jena Berkland struggled to stand up from the turf as the final seconds of the first overtime wound down. After the buzzer sounded, all 10 of her Prairie Ridge teammates on the field went over to help her.
“Our captains are so amazing,” Berkland said. “We’re very team-oriented.”
Moments before, Berkland had scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 Prairie Ridge win over St. Viator in the IHSA Class 2A Deerfield Sectional semifinals. Berkland rolled her ankle but walked off under her own power and said afterward she felt OK.
Her goal with 3:10 on the clock in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods proved to be the game’s only goal. The Wolves (16-2-0) advance to face Wauconda in the sectional final at 6 p.m. Friday in Deerfield.
The win came with the notable absence of the Wolves' leading scorer, Makena Silber. The junior tore her ACL in Saturday’s regional championship victory over Lakes and will miss the rest of the postseason.
Coach Andre Watson said playing without Silber was an adjustment.
“You take out an all-state girl who scored 28 goals, and that’s something you have to fill,” Watson said. “Our girls did a wonderful job stepping up and filling those spots.”
Sophomore Nikki Anderson played Silber’s spot at the top of the attack. She created the opportunity on the goal.
Anderson dribbled up the right side of the field and fired a shot at St. Viator goalkeeper Anna Johnston. The shot was too hot to handle for Johnston, and the rebound fell right to Berkland in front of the net.
“It was all Nikki,” Berkland said. “I can’t even take credit for that. She dribbled all the way down the line and crossed it in. I just got the rebound. I was in the right place at the right time.”
After a scoreless regulation, it was a relief to see the ball find the back of the net.
“I knew that someone would be there to finish it,” Anderson said. “I just crossed it, and Jena got onto the end of it.”
Berkland credited Anderson with filling in for Silber on the attack. Anderson acknowledged that no one can really replace the production of Silber, who is committed to play college soccer at Illinois.
“We were definitely missing something, but that brought our team closer together,” Anderson said. “We all stepped up to, not to fill her position – because no one can do that – but we came together.”
The Prairie Ridge defense was tough all night. Defender Josie Eriksen was active on the backline. Goalkeeper Taylor Golt made four saves in the shutout.
The Wolves controlled possession for much of the game.
“It was pretty even,” Watson said. “I think that we had more of the attack in the game. Hat's off to their goalie, Johnston, she’s a sweeper keeper back there, and she cleans up everything. When we can finally settle down, we can move the ball around really well.”
Johnston was active for the Lions. She wasn’t afraid to come out of the net and go after a free ball. She even took St. Viator’s free kicks as far as midfield.
With wet conditions and a scoreless regulation, it looked as if the game was destined for penalty kicks.
“We knew they had a really good goalie, and we just didn’t want to go into PKs,” Berkland said.
Berkland and Anderson made sure that didn’t happen.
Prairie Ridge, so., F
Anderson didn’t score the winning goal, but she created the opportunity and fired a shot that ricocheted off the goalkeeper and right to Jena Berkland, who fired the ball into the net.
87: Scoreless minutes before Prairie Ridge scored in the first 10-minute overtime period.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Prairie Ridge will play the rest of the postseason without leading scorer Makena Silber, who tore her ACL in Saturday’s regional championship win over Lakes.
Prairie Ridge 1, St. Viator 0 (OT)
St. Viator 0 0 0 0 — 0
Prairie Ridge 0 0 1 0 — 0
PR — Berkland, 3:10.
Goalkeeper saves — Golt (PR): 4, Johnston (St. V) 7.