Tuesday's match-up between Plainfield North and St. Charles North was a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle.
When the smoke cleared, No. 6 Plainfield North (15-2-2) and the visiting North Stars finished in a 2-2 draw.
Both teams didn't have their regular starters in place and both were coming off big matches that preceded their respective proms. The host Tigers beat Lyons and are back on their home field Wednesday hoping to claim a sixth straight Suburban Prairie Conference title against Oswego. St. Charles North lost to nationally ranked St. Teresa Academy of Missouri 2-1 in the Tournament of Champions A Bracket final after winning the first two games.
“The timing may have been unusual, but when you're playing a good team, the desire to win naturally surfaces and I liked our attitude,” Plainfield North coach Jane Crowe said. “I didn't think we started too well, but we got the momentum back on our side by picking up the pressure. We didn't panic when they scored some nice goals and that's a plus.”
No.9 St. Charles North (12-5-2) took the lead 3:59 into the match when UIC-bound Sophie Pohl boomed a 26-yarder into the upper left corner for her team best ninth goal of the year.
“I had an earlier shot and the second time I thought I could go one on one or take a shot,” Pohl explained. “Lately, long shots have been my thing.”
Midway through the half, the Tigers went on the attack as Marquette recruit Heather Handiwork got off series of shots that required saves from Shelby Stitz, including an impressive tip over the crossbar with 40 seconds left. The enusing corner kick saw Sara Elster convert a header from five yards out for her 15th goal of the year 11.2 seconds before halftime. Sam Elster earned the assist.
“With the last few minutes being spent down at our end, our fatigue showed and it felt like we were just hanging on,” St. Charles North coach Ruth Vostal admitted. “So many times a combination of mental and physical fatigue can get the best of you, so we have to work on giving up fewer free kicks.”
The North Stars reclaimed the lead at 47:08 when Hannah Durocher hit the upper right corner with a 23-yard blast.
“Seeing an opening in their back line I got open and decided to pull the trigger,” Durocher said. “It's a little disappointing not to get the outcome, but meeting them again in the state final would be okay with me.”
With 10:07 left, Brooke Polonus' free kick was headed home by Plainfield North's Reyse Stirrett.
“Normally I'm up top but I had a weird feeling to cycle around knowing we had to get another goal,” Stirrett said. “Brooke's kick was perfect and I was able to get my head squarely on it for some speed and aim. Obviously it's exciting scoring against a really good team and for us to avoid a home loss.”