ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Dani McCloud, Harvard, jr., F
McCloud scored the only goal in Harvard’s 1-0 win over Winnebago on Saturday to win the Class 1A Winnebago Regional championship game. The win marked the first regional title in the Harvard girls soccer program’s history.
McCloud scored another goal Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to Stillman Valley in the sectional semifinals.
NORTHWEST HERALD POWER RANKINGS
1. Prairie Ridge (18-1-1, 7-1 FVC): The co-Fox Valley Conference champion takes on Kishwaukee River Conference champion Burlington Central in a Class 2A regional final on Friday. The Wolves have won seven straight regional titles.
2. Cary-Grove (12-2-1, 7-1 FVC): The Trojans seek their third consecutive regional title and fifth in the past seven years. They cruised to a 10-0 win over Harlem in their regional opener.
3. Crystal Lake Central (16-3, 7-1 FVC): The Tigers set a new program record for wins, beating out the 1994 team, which went 15-7. Central has not won a regional since 2009.
4. Jacobs (13-9-1, 5-3 FVC): Winners of five straight games, the Golden Eagles are catching fire at the right time. They seek back-to-back Class 3A regional titles.
5. Huntley (9-8-2, 4-4 FVC): Last year’s opening-round loss snapped a streak of 11 consecutive regional titles for Huntley. The Red Raiders are trying to make it 12 out of 13 years.
Postseason rebirth: Two teams with losing records in the regular season turned around their fortunes and brought home postseason hardware last week. Harvard (4-14-4) and Richmond-Burton (7-9-2 entering play Wednesday) each won a Class 1A regional title.
The Hornets doubled their regular-season win total with two postseason wins.
“We’ve had good teams in the past; we just haven’t gotten it done in the playoffs for whatever reason,” Harvard coach Victor Gonzalez said.
The run started with a penalty kick shootout victory over Marengo, 2-1 (4-3 PKs), in the regional opener May 8.
Gonzalez said the Hornets were missing a number of starters for various reasons throughout the season. Not until the end of the year did they have a chance to see what their team was capable of.
“We just peaked at the right moment, and that allowed us to really play well into the postseason,” Gonzalez said. “We still didn’t have the consistency because we didn’t have the chemistry. We were missing some varsity players throughout. We told them it's a new season; it’s win or go home, so we have to get it together, and the girls did.”
R-B defeated Johnsburg, 4-0, on Friday to win the Class 1A Johnsburg Regional. The Rockets won their fourth regional title in five years, so they are no strangers to postseason success.
Coach Casey DeCaluwe said his team bought in right away. Even with the losing record, R-B earned the No. 2 seed in its sub-sectional.
“Understand we’re a top seed, so that first game, play our style, go to goal, start to open up things offensively and build on that,” DeCaluwe said. “I think we really did.”
WHAT TO WATCH
Burlington Central vs. Prairie Ridge, 6 p.m. Friday: At the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional, the Wolves and Rockets met in the sectional semifinals last season, with Burlington Central winning, 2-0.
Crystal Lake Central vs. Kaneland/Woodstock, 4:30 p.m. Friday: At the Class 2A Woodstock North Regional, the Tigers go for their first regional title since 2009.