Prospect, Fremd will meet for regional title.
It was a wild, draining night for such a long time before a moment of brilliance from Ashley Welk settled the Carmel Catholic vs. Prospect regional girls soccer semifinal.
The Knights' senior steered an unstoppable 30-yard blast in the 58th minute then, along with her teammates, weathered an expected fight back before claiming a 1-0 victory in Palatine at Hildebrandt Field.
Next up for the No. 6 seeded Knights (12-9-5) is regional host Fremd in a Friday final at 6 p.m.
"When you know this could be your last game ever, you play as hard as you can in order to play another day," said Welk, who earlier in the week was named Mid-Suburban League East Co-Player of the Year, along with Rolling Meadows forward Alexa Davis.
"That (goal) happened so fast, but I knew I had a player from Carmel on me who was going to try to take the ball away so I had time and a little space in front of me and just took the shot."
"We all kind of come to expect Ashley to do something like that, she's that type of player," added teammate Kristin Schneider.
Prospect, as it has for most of the season thus far, came out and dominated possession, had most of the play and easily found Welk and others to keep the No. 11 Corsairs (7-9-4) in their own end for most of the first half.
"We made a few adjustments at the half, became much more aggressive in 50-50 balls, our tackling and just by playing with more energy and purpose and you saw the difference in our play during the second half," said Corsairs head coach Ray Krawzak.
This change from Krawzak's club also meant it would targe, and find its talented forward Zenaya Barnes far more often than it did in the opening period.
Barnes, along with some terrific work by Olivia Pullin, Maddy Split and others, helped the Corsairs go through a 10-15 minute period in which they kept the ball more than Prospect, created a handful of corners and deep throws and forced coach Tom Froats' club to defend far more than it wanted to before and after the Welk strike.
"We had to really weather the storm, and hats off to Ray's team, they forced us to double No. 17 (Barnes), work so hard and never allowed us to find any rhythm until the last 5-6 minutes when we finally got back to doing what we did so well in the game," said the Knights" head coach.
Lauryn Schneider nearly doubled the Prospect advantage when she rattled the bar in the 74th minute, while a sharp tackle and interception from Pullin ended a chance in close by Welk moments later.
"The end of a season is always sad, but when you are beaten by such a magnificent goal like No. 15 (Welk) scored tonight then it makes it a little easier to take," said a gracious Krawzak.
Prospect and Fremd played to a goal-less draw in their MSL opener back on April 3 in Mount Prospect.
Fremd 7, Waukegan 0: No. 3 seed Fremd cruised into its own girls soccer regional final with a 7-0 thrashing of Waukegan Tuesday night at Hildebrant Field.
The Vikings (12-4-3) will take on Mid-Suburban League rival Prospect at 6 p.m. Friday for the regional title.
The huge score line recorded by the home side was welcome news to Allie Prigge and her teammates, who just last Friday fell flat against last year's Class 3A state runner-up New Trier, which defeated the Vikings 3-0 in the season finale for both soccer clubs.
"Our mindset before that game with New Trier wasn't anywhere near what it had to be, neither was our effort. Once the game began (coach Steve) Keller reminded all of us about that and I thought we came out with much more focus and energy for this game," said Allie Prigge, who along with her sister Liz and junior Lauren Burk enjoyed an easy day in front of keepers Jennifer Norris and freshman Sam Gary, who shared the shutout.
Norris' counterpart, Isabel Escalera, was the star of the show for a Bulldogs club that had some quality, but not enough complimentary players to offset the talent and experience of the Vikings.
Escalera rescued her club with several goal-saving stops all throughout the contest, but the freshman could do nothing about a 4-goal explosion to dash the hopes of an upset by the visitors.
Ashley Scesniak claimed the opener in the 14th minute with an 18-yard effort, then it was Emma Spotek, Burk, then Caeleigh Stone adding to the Vikings' advantage before the 20th minute.
Stone's goal, in particular, was a sensational one, which came after Claire Stewart set her free up the left side allowing the sophomore to hit a powerful smash into the far inside netting.
After Allie Prigge made it 5-0 just before the intermission, then converted her spot-kick in the 51st minute, Keller began to bring most of his starters off for the rest of the game.
Zhara Trott put an exclamation point on the win with her goal in the 58th minute.
"Waukegan had some good players, especially their keeper, but we came out more connected as a team than last Friday, possessed, moved the ball around and with a lot of effort to get into the regional final," said Allie Prigge.
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|Author:||Garofola, By Mike|
|Publication:||Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)|
|Date:||May 15, 2019|
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