Plainfield North has been a showcase program, heralding some of the state’s elite players. Senior midfielder Heather Handwork is a nationally-rated talent.
But the Tigers’ formidable attack welcomed contributions from emerging players, as two sophomores recorded their first career goals as the No. 6 Tigers defeated Lincoln-Way Central 2-0 in the Naperville Invitational at Naperville North on Saturday.
“It was great to have other players show what they could do so we are not always relying on the same people,” Plainfield North coach Jane Crowe said.
Plainfield North (12-2-1) dominated every facet of the match, controlling possession and playing virtually the entire game in the Knights’ half of the field.
Midfielder Reyse Stirrett put Plainfield North up 1-0 in the 18th minute by drilling a 13-yarder from Shyna Dheel into the upper left corner.
“I’ve been struggling with my finishes the whole year, but coach Crowe talked about taking the ball into the box more,” Stirrett said.
“I finished my run and got a perfect ball and I took a touch and saw the open shot,” she said.
Handwork’s athleticism and speed in the open field put tremendous pressure on the Knights (7-5-3), creating open spaces for the rest of Plainfield North to find creases to exploit. Junior Erin Doody was under constant assault and registered nine saves for Lincoln-Way Central.
Plainfield North never allowed Lincoln-Way Central to generate any counter attacks or quality possessions of its own.
“We were exhausted,” coach Dan Radz. “I knew seeing the girls get off the bus that it was going to be difficult, because this was our third game in less than three days.
“Handwork is an incredible player who does so much, and we couldn’t really do anything to slow them down. To play against Waubonsie Valley, where I thought we stayed with them last night and now Plainfield North, those are two great teams.”
Plainfield North’s lanky defender Emily DeVaux made a memorable first goal, diving toward the goal off a corner and getting just enough of her knee to provide the finishing touch. She found a light moment to celebrate.
“I feel down,” she said, laughing. “It’s a very fun and exciting experience,” Stirrett said.