GRAYSLAKE – All the time Prairie Ridge spent working on set pieces in practice paid off.
Even if most of the work the Wolves put in was defending corner kicks, rather than taking them.
The Wolves took full advantage of set plays, scoring three times off corner kicks that resulted in header goals to defeat Woodstock, 3-0, Tuesday in the Class 2A Grayslake Central Regional semifinals at William C. Eiserman Stadium.
[ Photos: Woodstock vs. Prairie Ridge girls soccer ]
“We’ve been working on defending them more than attacking, and I think that has helped,” Wolves coach Justin Brown said. “It’s gone both ways.”
Prairie Ridge (9-7) got its first two goals off corners from midfielder Jake Pinkerton, one by Henry Eriksen and the second by Henry Knoll. Ethan Ormsby set up Chase Vrba for the third goal.
The Wolves will meet Grayslake Central (10-6-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday for the regional championship.
“We have some guys who are tall and able to get their heads on the ball,” Pinkerton said. “We work a lot in practice on repetition on those corners so we can execute those. We want to make the most of the chances we get.”
Pinkerton served a ball to Eriksen with 14:22 remaining in the first half that Eriksen headed toward the goal. The ball appeared to ricochet off three players and bounce into the goal.
With 23:06 left in the second half, Pinkerton sent a corner to Knoll, a 6-foot-2 forward, who headed it directly in.
Prairie Ridge’s defense took care of the rest. Goalkeeper Daniel Llanquiman had six saves for the shutout.
“We played them very well defensively,” Wolves midfielder Cade Collins said. “We stayed between the goal and them, not jumping in. Playing five in the back was very helpful at keeping pressure off of us. We played very well in the middle as well.”
Woodstock generated some good chances early in the game, but the Streaks could not score. Their best shot came shortly after Prairie Ridge’s second goal when Mateo Alcazar tipped Hunter Lisowski’s long pass off his head toward the goal and it hit the crossbar.
“I was thrilled at how we defended them,” Brown said. “We knew they were dangerous players, and we keyed on that. We did a lot better organizing than the last few games. Overall, we were solid in the back and that helped us get forward.”
Woodstock finished the season 11-9-2.
“The difference in the game was three corners,” Streaks coach Matt Warmbier said. “We couldn’t defend corners. It was frustrating.
“Unfortunately, this is kind of a synopsis of the season for us. Defensively, we’ve been able to play with a lot of teams. Offensively, we haven’t been able to find the back of the net. We create opportunities, we do things right to own possession, but we just haven’t been able to convert.”