Huntley's Deanna Hecht (center) celebrates after scoring a goal against Crystal Lake South with 1:10 left to give Huntley a 1-0 win over Crystal Lake South.
CRYSTAL LAKE – For all the success the Huntley girls soccer senior class has had, a conference championship was one goal that had always eluded them. After six titles in a row, the Red Raiders had come up just short, a result here or there, for the past three seasons.
On Thursday at Crystal Lake South, two senior captains – Katie Costantino and Deanna Hecht – connected for the Red Raiders' biggest goal of the season, making sure they wouldn't leave campus without finishing atop the division once.
Hecht scored with 1:10 left in regulation, heading in a Costantino corner to help the Red Raiders nab a 1-0 victory over Crystal Lake South and with it at least a share of the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title.
"That was by far the best one, soccer career at Huntley High School, best goal, best feeling," Hecht said. "It's been a long time. And the past three years we've been trying and trying and we just couldn't get there. It just feels really good."
With time winding down, the Red Raiders won a corner and Huntley coach Kris Grabner told his team to pack the six-yard box.
Costantino curled a high, inswinging cross off her right foot. Gators goalkeeper Jaclyn Przybylski couldn't get to the ball and it fell to Hecht at the back post. The Red Raiders' leading scorer made no mistake of the point-blank header.
"We have our runs and mine was to the back post," Hecht said. "I saw Alyssa (Kaufman) jump and it just got right over her so I knew it was coming to me so I just braced myself and was really hoping that it was going to go in.
"I don't know, everybody did everything right in that moment and it just worked out for us so it was good."
After a cagey first half, the game opened up in the second. Taylor Mraz and Jenny Luken each created chances for the Gators (13-6-1, 3-2 FVC Valley) but they kept ending up either just wide or over the crossbar.
The final 10 minutes were end-to-end action with each team coming close and then leaving itself vulnerable.
"It was back and forth and it was basically who's going to finish first, and thankfully it was us," Hecht said.
The Red Raiders (14-2-0, 4-0 FVC Valley) can win the division outright with a victory Tuesday against McHenry.
After closing out the regular season next week, the two teams will begin the postseason in opposite semifinals of the Class 3A Jacobs Regional.
"The most important thing that I just told them is that they should be proud of the way they played tonight. The game could have gone either way and they played awesome and worked hard the whole time," Gators coach Jay Mueller said. "And we're hoping, if we can continue to play well, we're going to earn a chance to see them again. We know that's not going to be easy to get there either, but we're hoping to see them again and have a chance to redeem ourselves."
The game ball:
Deanna Hecht, Huntley, Sr. Fwd.
The senior captain scored in the game's only goal on a late header.
The number: 1:10
left to play when Huntley scored the game-winning goal.
The big moment:
With less than two minutes to play, Huntley won a corner kick and Katie Costantino curled a high cross to the back post where Hecht headed it in from close range to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 win.
Huntley 1, Crystal Lake South 0
Huntley 0 – 1 – 1
Crystal Lake South 0 – 0 – 0
79' (H) – Deanna Hecht, assisted by Katie Costantino
Goalkeeper saves: Paige Renkosik (H) 4, Jaclyn Przybylski (CLS) 3.
May, 7th 2015 - BY JOHN WILKINSON - NORTHWEST HERALDPrevious News Article Next News Article