High school girls soccer: 2nd-half boosts Crystal Lake Central over Marian Central

CRYSTAL LAKE – When a team sends 24 shots on frame, it’s typically a good sign. 

Crystal Lake Central’s relentless attack wore down Marian Central in the second half of their nonconference matchup Wednesday. The Tigers scored four times after halftime and wound up with a 5-0 victory. 

Tigers coach Sarah Fack felt her team “came out a little more mentally ready to go, a little bit stronger, more intense" in the second half.

Taylor Bittenbender scored twice in the match including the opening goal on a corner kick from teammate Abbey Kramer in the 18th minute. 

“It was wide open,” Bittenbender said. “Abbey is really good at corner kicks. It’s just a matter of crashing the net and getting a body on it.”

That was the only one of Central’s 13 first-half shots that found the back of the net. Marian goalkeeper Mackenzie Schwalbach kept her team in it with 12 saves through the first 40 minutes. Schwalbach finished the match with 20 total saves.

The Tigers (4-1) scored less than two minutes into the second half, then the rout was on. 

“We definitely figured out that we had to bring more intensity, which is why we came out with more in the second half,” Bittenbender said. “It was good. We were creating a lot of offensive opportunities.”

Emma Bolanowski scored the first goal after halftime on an assist from Megan Wozniak. Bittenbender later scored her second goal when she cleaned up the rebound on a Bolanowski shot that deflected off the keeper.

Erica Novy powered home a penalty kick late in the game, and Ellie Montford scored a long-range goal from well outside the 18-yard box to cap the scoring. 

Central keepers Nora Ryan and Erica Milan needed to make only three combined saves. 

First-year Marian coach Brittany Hull-Soloman said the Hurricanes (0-4) struggled with their communication Wednesday. 

“A lot of times, we get the ball, we win it and then we had a hard time getting that next pass,” Hull-Soloman said. “[We need to] make sure that we’re moving the ball as a team, stepping together as a team, and then defending as a team, not letting one line at a time do the work.”

For Central, Bittenbender has recorded three total goals and one assist through five games. The senior transferred from Crystal Lake South over the offseason. A year ago, Bittenbender scored a game-winning overtime goal for South against Central. Now she dons orange and black.

Bittenbender said she had no trouble adjusting to her new teammates.

“It’s been easy,” Bittenbender said. “I grew up playing with all these girls at Crystal Lake Force, so I knew a lot of them. Not a problem at all.”


Taylor Bittenbender, Crystal Lake Central, sr., M/F

The Tigers senior scored two goals in a 5-0 win over Marian Central in nonconference action Wednesday.


24: Central sent 24 shots on frame, keeping Marian goalkeeper Mackenzie Schwalbach busy. 


Central has won four consecutive games after a season-opening loss to Wauconda.

Crystal Lake Central 5, Marian Central 0 

Marian 0 0 – 0

CL Central 1 4 – 5

First half

CLC – Bittenbender (Kramer assist), 18th minute.

Second half

CLC – Bolanowski (Wozniak), 42nd minute.

CLC – Bittenbender (Bolanowski), 53rd minute.

CLC – Novy (PK), 62nd minute.

CLC – Montford (M. Anderson), 65th minute. 

Goalkeeper saves – Marian Central: Schwalbach 20. Crystal Lake Central: Ryan 2, Milan 1.

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