MINOOKA – Five-time defending Southwest Prairie Conference girls soccer champion Plainfield North looked the part Thursday, defeating host Minooka 4-0 in the conference opener for both teams.
Since the SPC only schedules one match between each team in soccer, any chance Minooka has of a conference crown is already dependent on help from elsewhere.
“If we play ’em next time, I hope it’s better than 4-nothing. I hope we win the game,” Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. “We came out here planning to win the game. There were things that we wanted to do that we didn’t do today, and if we would have done them, I think we would have stayed in the game.”
Shayna Dheel scored the first Plainfield North (4-0-1) goal, though her job was easy. Minooka keeper Lily Benig came way out of her net to play a 50-50 ball, to which North’s Sara Stevens beat her. Stevens quickly grounded the ball toward the open net. It likely was headed in anyway, but Dheel got to it and hammered it in from close range to erase any doubt.
After that, the Tigers were kept mostly in check until they scored twice on breakaways in a span of 34 seconds late in the first half. Heather Handwork had the first goal, racing toward the net from the right and beating Benig to the left. Stevens followed a short time later by beating three Minooka defenders to get in close, where she softly put the ball into the lower right corner of the net.
“We scored that first goal, and we kind of just seemed content with that, so getting those two goals back-to-back right before halftime just changed the game completely,” North coach Jane Crowe said. “It slowed them down a little bit. I think they had, took a little bit out of them, thinking ‘We’re down one goal, all the sudden we’re down three goals.’”
Neither team had a shot on goal in the second half until, at the 23:42 mark, Tate Barney scored the fourth North goal on an assist from Handwork.
The Minooka (0-1-1) first-half offense was confined to three Margaret Ward shots on goal, all of which were from a distance and all of which were handled easily by North keeper Emma Veselsky.
“You gotta have way more opportunities, with restarts, and we didn’t play the ball wide enough to spread them out at all,” Brolley said. “We didn’t even test their keeper more than once on a long ball today. So that’s a big thing for us. We didn’t get any numbers up, and when you’re 1-on-4, it’s hard to create anything in the offensive zone.”