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Grant opens postseason with win over Z-B.

Byline: Rusty Silber Daily Herald Correspondent

Grant's girls soccer team has been building and getting its younger players the understanding of what it's like to win games with some of the veteran players around to help.

The Bulldogs are starting to learn what it takes being competitive and playing with teams in the Northern Lake County Conference and in Lake County.

Entering the postseason, 16th-seeded Grant opened up against No. 17 Zion-Benton and the Bulldogs raised their level of play enough for a 4-1 victory in the Class 3A quarterfinal on Friday afternoon in Fox Lake.

Nicole Stigler scored a hat trick and Taylor Fruehling had the other goal for the Bulldogs.

Grant (5-10-2) will next play top-seeded Stevenson (18-1-2) in the Stevenson regional semifinal Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Lincolnshire.

The regional victory means a lot for Grant, which is trying to see its younger players take on bigger roles with the other players having varsity experience.

"It felt good to win this one," Grant coach Olivia Jansen said. "The girls that are seniors, especially, wanted to win this one and they have another game together. We have a number of younger players that are some pretty good stud players. Definitely, our youth is coming in. We should have some good leaders down the road."

Sophomore midfielder Stigler scored three times for 12 goals this season and she leads the team in scoring.

"It was amazing and the fact that we worked together as a team," Stigler said. "We all did really good connecting passes especially from the midfield."

The right attitude stands out with the Bulldogs and believing in a bright future can lead to more positive results.

"Most people think of Grant, they think we can easily win," Stigler said. "But I feel we always fight back and we always give our best. That's really what matters. I feel in the coming years, we will keep improving like we are now."

Zion-Benton (2-19) jumped to an early 1-0 lead on Grant in the fourth minute when Emily Salgado lofted a 30-yard kick under the crossbar.

But Grant recovered, scoring twice in the first half. Stigler found the back of the net off a pass from Villarreal in the ninth minute that tied the match.

Then Villarreal put the Bulldogs ahead 2-1 in the 26th minute, after taking a pass from Addy Karpilovsky and scoring.

Stigler added two more goals in the second half. She received a pass from Chloe Todd and made it 3-1 in the 54th minute.

She then followed up with her third tally five minutes later on an unassisted goal for the 4-1 difference.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Silber, By Rusty
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:May 11, 2019
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