HUNTLEY – Crystal Lake Central co-op thought it had Tuesday’s Huntley Supersectional matchup against Lake Forest figured out after the two girls lacrosse teams battled to a one-score game at the half.
Then the Scouts turned their game up a notch.
Lake Forest improved all facets of its game in the second half in order to beat Central 7-3 and make its second straight trip to state.
“Stuff happens,” Central’s Addison Bechler said. “It didn’t happen to be our best game, but I think we really tried our hardest, and that’s all that really matters. Some shots weren’t going in, but we put in a lot of effort into that game.”
Lake Forest (18-6) stole the game’s momentum in the opening 10 minutes when it denied the Tigers (22-2) open scoring chance and then took a 1-0 lead when Maeve Farrell scored with 18:32 left in the half. Chelsea Tzau made it 2-0 Scouts with 13:31 left in the half, forcing Central coach Joe Capalbo to call a timeout.
Central, which draws players from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge, responded right away when Fiona Lemke scored with 11:56 left, then Bechler tied the game with a drive to the net with 10:06 left. Chloe York gave the Scouts a 3-2 lead with 6:00 left in the half, but the Tigers were confident heading into the second half.
Then Lake Forest changed gears.
The Scouts looked like a different team in the second half. After losing a majority of the faceoffs in the first half, Lake Forest dominated the circles in the second half, which led to long offensive possessions and good scoring chances. Farrell made it 4-2 with 22:25 left before the Scouts’ offense kept barraging Central’s defense.
Tzau made it 5-2 with 12:19 left before Megan Rocklein scored to give Lake Forest a 6-2 lead. Tzau scored again to cap the scoring for Lake Forest with 5:39 left before Central’s Bechler added her second goal with 1:26 left.
“They just did what they do,” Capalbo said. “They’re pretty elite on offense and kind of broke away there early in the second half.”
Central averaged 13.3 goals per game heading into Tuesday, but the Tigers’ shots didn’t go in when it mattered most. Capalbo thought his midfielders were tired after having to play so much on defense in the second half, and the offense never clicked despite that two-minute scoring run in the first half.
“Their defense was the story of the game,” Capalbo said.
Central ended a historic season, winning its third straight Fox Valley Conference title and second straight sectional in only the program’s third varsity season.
“Stuff happens. It didn’t happen to be our best game but I think we really tried our hardest and that’s all that really matters. Some shots weren’t going in but we put in a lot of effort into that game.”— Addison Bechler, Crystal Lake Central co-op sophomore
While moments like Tuesday are tough, Capalbo and Bechler both know going through a game like that can be beneficial as the program tries to continue to make history.
“I think we need to keep this in the back of our minds always, just use this as motivation,” Bechler said. “I know it really [stinks] to lose to them in supersectionals two years in a row, but we really need to use this to push us harder.”