Girls soccer: Brooklynn Carlson scores pivotal goals to lead Crystal Lake Central back to IHSA state finals

Tigers best St. Ignatius in Class 2A Deerfield Supersectional for return to state

Crystal Lake Central players shebrate their 4-2 win over St. Ignatius College Prep in the Class 2A Deerfield Supersectional girls soccer match on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Deerfield High School.

DEERFIELD – Senior Brooklynn Carlson has been in the right place at the right time for Crystal Lake Central ever since she was a freshman. None of those moments felt more important than Tuesday night.

Carlson used her knack for offense to score two goals in less than two minutes in the second half to beat St. Ignatius 4-2 in Tuesday’s Class 2A Deerfield Supersectional, leading Central back to the IHSA state finals for the second straight season.

“I knew our team was going to rally back,” Carlson said. “Scoring those two goals, it was a great sight to see. I was glad we got up at the end.”

Tuesday’s win was the third straight match in which Central (21-2-2) needed to find a unique way to win. The Tigers won their sectional semifinal match on penalty kicks and won a second straight second title by scoring in the final minutes. This time, they needed to find a way to come back from a rare second-half deficit.

Central trailed 2-1 with 27 minutes left in the match when the Tigers earned a penalty kick opportunity after a foul in the box. Senior Paiton Hulata’s attempt bounced off the left post, but the Tigers swarmed for the rebound. Carlson sprinted toward the ball and got just enough of a touch to knock it in with 26:35 left in the match.

The Tigers used the momentum to quickly generate another push toward the net. The ball bounced in front of the net after an attempt and Wolfpack defenders struggled to clear it. Carlson kept battling and knocked it in to give Central a 3-2 lead with 25:00 left in the match.

“She’s just a smart player who has a knack for reading things and being in the right spot at the right time,” Central coach Sarah Fack said. “She was able to do just that.”

Senior Olivia Anderson scored her second goal of the match with 6:49 left to seal the team’s second straight trip to state.

Central found itself in a hole despite controlling the pace for much of the match. The Tigers took a quick 1-0 lead after Anderson scored off a shot from the top of the box that bounced in off the top crossbar with 39:19 left in the first half.

Crystal Lake Central's Brooklynn Carlson controls the ball as she tries to take a shot against St. Ignatius College Prep's Quinn Urquhart during the Class 2A Deerfield Supersectional girls soccer match on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Deerfield High School.

They continued to control the pace, but St. Ignatius made the most of its scarce chances. The Wolfpack scored off their first shot on goal when sophomore Kayla Washington used a fast break to tie the match 1-1 with 19:16 left in the first half. Sophomore Sloan Williams drove through the Tigers defense and gave St. Ignatius a 2-1 lead with 37:58 left in the match.

Central ended the match with 15 shots on goal while St. Ignatius had three. Junior goalkeeper MC Galate made 11 saves in net for the Wolfpack.

“I knew our team was going to rally back. Scoring those two goals, it was a great sight to see. I was glad we got up at the end.”

—  Brooklynn Carlson, Crystal Lake Central senior

The Tigers didn’t let the second-half deficit stop them from playing the game that helped them get to this point. Anderson and Carlson said Central stayed composed and knew what it needed to do in order to reach back-to-back state finals for the first time in program history.

“We knew every game was going to be a battle, and this is huge,” Fack said. “These girls have worked hard for over four years, year-in and year-out. We’ve been getting better each year, this is the culmination of all of that. Hopefully, we’re not done.”

Central will face Fox Valley Conference foe Burlington Central for a chance to play in its first state-championship game. They’ll play each other in the Class 2A State semifinals at Naperville’s North Central College at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

The Tigers bested the Rockets 2-0 in April on their way to a fifth straight FVC title and their second straight undefeated conference season. But despite their past success, the Tigers remain determined to reach their ultimate goal.

“We treated it as a ladder, but we had one goal, which was getting to state,” Anderson said. “Now it’s the next goal: winning state.”

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