HOFFMAN ESTATES – Prairie Ridge took some time to find its offense, but once the Wolves did, there was no stopping them.
After struggling against Cary-Grove’s defense in the first half, Prairie Ridge poured in 13 second-half goals and beat the Trojans, 15-9, Wednesday in their semifinal game of the Hoffman Estates Sectional.
Both teams are playing in the IHSA postseason for the first time this spring.
“We just got more ground (loose) balls and played better as a team than we did in the first half,” attacker Zach Clark said. “In the first half, we were kind of falling apart, not being able to pass and catch. We ran our offense better and hit the open man.”
Prairie Ridge (14-2) meets Barrington at 7 p.m. Friday for the sectional championship.
“The big difference (in the second half) was possession time,” Wolves coach Josh Cole said. “We felt like if we got the ball, we were going to put pressure on them offensively. They had the ball so much in the first half. They did a really nice job on loose balls, they brought a lot of energy in the early part of the game.”
As the Wolves won more loose balls and maintained possession, things changed. They scored eight goals in the third quarter and added five more in the fourth. Ethan Kirchberg finished with five goals, Clark had four and Brett Johnson added three.
“We knew we could find some solid looks, we were getting great looks in the first quarter,” Kirchberg said. “We came out in the second and finished them. We got some goals in transition and all-around finished.”
C-G (12-5) was led by Jack Hughes with three goals and Nate Jablonski scored two. The Trojans battled back and forth for most of the third quarter until Prairie Ridge scored the last four goals of that period.
“We lost our sense of urgency (in the second half),” Trojans coach Zac Cheatle said. “We were harping on that at halftime, you can’t let them back in it. Great defense in the first half, we were great on ground balls. In the second half they beat us on ground balls and faceoffs and we probably had 20 turnovers. We’d get the ball up the field and turn it over.”
Zach Orr scored twice, Johnson scored and Clark finished the third quarter with a goal with 1.3 seconds remaining. Hughes and Tyler Forney scored for C-G to make it 10-9 with 8:37 remaining, but it was all Prairie Ridge the rest of the way.
Kirchberg scored and then assisted for Clark. The Wolves scored the game’s final five goals.
“It was the hype coming from the bench and all the boys coming together,” Clark said. “We just took off and never took our foot off the gas pedal.”
Cole said the Wolves’ halves contrasted what they usually do.
“Typically, we’re a great first-half team and a slow second-half team, and today was the opposite,” he said. “We brought a ton of energy in the second half.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Ethan Kirchberg, Prairie Ridge, sr., Attack
Kirchberg scored five goals, four in the second half, as the Wolves roared past Cary-Grove for a 15-9 victory.
13: Second-half goals by Prairie Ridge.
AND ANOTHER THING...
Cary-Grove was playing without the Baird triplets – Braden, Jake and Logan – who were out of town on a college visit. Jake Baird is one of the Trojans’ leading scorers.
Prairie Ridge 15, Cary-Grove 9
Prairie Ridge 2 0 8 5 – 15
Cary-Grove 3 2 2 2 – 9
PR–E. Kirchberg, 6:15.
PR–E. Kirchberg, 7:37.
PR–E. Kirchberg, 7:01.
PR–E. Kirchberg, 8:11.
PR–E. Kirchberg, 2:37.