BURLINGTON – Prairie Ridge sophomore Caroline Golt couldn’t have picked a bigger moment to connect on her first goal of the season.
Friday’s IHSA Class 2A Burlington Central Regional championship game featured two of the area’s best Class 2A girls soccer teams. Both were coming off conference championships in the regular season, and both won regionals a year ago.
Ten minutes into the second half, Golt scored on an assist from Nikki Anderson to break a tie. The Wolves' defense stood its ground through the final 30 minutes, and Prairie Ridge defeated Burlington Central, 2-1, to advance to next week’s sectional.
“This is my first year on varsity,” Golt said. “I’m so proud, especially scoring that goal. I really didn’t expect it. We lost to the them last year. It really means a lot that we came back.”
A year ago, Burlington Central ended Prairie Ridge’s undefeated season with a 2-0 victory in the sectional semifinals. With Friday’s win, Prairie Ridge (19-1-1) extended its streak to eight straight regional titles, all in Class 2A.
The Wolves will face Sycamore at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 2A Hampshire Sectional semifinals.
Golt, a midfielder, typically doesn’t have many scoring chances. Prairie Ridge coach Mark Lewis said her scoring play might have been the farthest up field Golt has found herself all season.
“She wanted the ball,” Lewis said. “We work on it in practice. We said that we felt that the key would be midfielders making runs into the box.”
Burlington Central (14-5-1) did a decent job limiting Wolves forwards Anderson and Abby Eriksen. It was Golt and Maddy Kachelmuss, two midfielders, who scored goals for Prairie Ridge.
Burlington Central scored the opening goal in the 32nd minute. There were two or three Rockets in the vicinity of a mad scrum, with the ball bouncing every which way. The goal was credited to the Rockets’ Isabella Hartmann.
Prairie Ridge trailed for all of 15 seconds of game time. Kachelmuss scored in the 33rd minute, with an assist from Eriksen.
“We felt those runs forward from our midfield would be successful, and they were,” Lewis said. "Obviously, [Burlington Central is] going to try to take care of Nikki and Abby Eriksen."
Golt added the Wolves’ second goal in the 51st minute.
“It was good to see some players that don’t typically score step up,” Prairie Ridge defender Abby Klimkowski said. “Seeing Caroline and Maddy score really shows that no matter who they are, we can put the ball in the back of the net.”
Klimkowski marked up against Illinois commit Zoey Kollhoff whenever she was in the game. Lewis called Kollhoff a “brilliant” player. The junior saw limited scoring chances Friday.
Burlington Central finished third in the state in Class 2A in 2017 and was a sectional champion last season. Coach Jessica Arneson said her offense faced a “sea of red” jerseys from the Wolves' defense.
“They’re bigger than us, and they’re way more physical than we are,” Arneson said. “We’re small, and we’re quick. When we can’t get a rhythm, that keeps us from doing what we’re able to do. The fact that they shut us down in that area led us to some mistakes.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Prairie Ridge, so., M
Golt scored her first goal of the season in the second half, and it proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Burlington Central.
Prairie Ridge won its eighth straight Class 2A regional title, a streak that began with the 2012 season.
AND ANOTHER THING …
In those previous seven regional championship seasons since 2012, the Wolves went on to win the sectional twice: 2013 (when they finished as state runners-up) and 2017.
Prairie Ridge 2, Burlington Central 1
BC 1 0 – 1
PR 1 1 – 2
BC – Hartmann (Oller assist), 32nd minute.
PR – Kachelmuss (A. Eriksen), 33rd minute.
PR – Golt (Anderson), 51st minute.
Goalkeeper saves – Burlington Central: Butler 8. Prairie Ridge: Gablenz: 6.