MINOOKA – Plainfield Central girls soccer coach Ken Schoen likes the fight his squad possesses and it certainly was on display Tuesday.
The Wildcats had multiple chances with the wind advantage, but trailed Minooka, 1-0, at halftime of their Southwest Prairie Conference match.
After grabbing the lead with a pair of second-half goals, Central watched in dismay as the Indians scored late in regulation play to force overtime.
But as the squads were underway in their second of two 10-minute extra sessions, the Wildcats made the most of a second chance opportunity to finally seal the deal.
Paige Fuller followed up on her deflected corner kick with an effort that found the net in the 92nd minute as Central captured a 3-2 victory.
The Wildcats are 7-3 since getting off to an 0-4 start, and improved to 3-1 in SPC play.
“I’m not going to complain about any win in this conference,” Schoen said. “We’re coming together real well and we’ve come a long ways so far. I’m happy with our effort after having the wind at our backs and being down 1-0 at half. We were at a disadvantage, but came back and took the lead. I like the girls’ mental toughness and how they never give up.
“We came out a little flat but picked it up about 15 minutes in and we created a bunch of opportunities, and probably could have scored a few goals in the first half. Both of our goals in the second half were high-quality finishes. We went a little more defensive after they scored the second goal since I liked our chances if we went into overtime or PKs.”
The Wildcats had the best opportunity in the initial overtime, receiving a long free kick from Erin Graefen that was hauled in by Indians keeper Lily Benig midway through.
Things were good for Central after Graefen recorded a goal and assisted Shawna Watson on an earlier score to lead 2-1 with less than 15 minutes left.
But Minooka (2-7-3, 2-3) evened things up in the 67th minute when Hannah Rieker was just wide on an attempt but Lacey Viano was in the right spot to put in the short goal.
Both squads had chances as regulation play wound down. Central’s Jessica Schroeder had a chip punched over the net and a short time later, Minooka’s Marisol Galvan was denied on a corner kick and close attempt.
In the final minutes before overtime, Wildcat Emily Haarman had a long effort deflected over the net while Rieker was thwarted on a try by keeper Tiffany Lenza.
After the Indians opened the second half with shots from Rieker and Kasey Watts, the Wildcats evened things at 1-1 in the 54th minute when Graefen sent a pass to Watson, who fired in a shot near the sideline that found the opposite side of the net.
A short time later, Rieker sent in a corner and Haley Arlis headed one try off the crossbar before being denied on the short rebound try.
Central went up 2-1 just after the half’s midpoint when Graefen ripped off a liner from just beyond the top of the box.
“We knew coming in that it would be close since we were evenly-matched with them and it was back-and-forth the whole time and anyone’s, game,” Watson said. “We knew that we had to go hard in the second half since we got down early. Once we got our first goal I feel that we got some energy and then were able to get the second one.
“We had a lot of corner kicks and Paige was getting them right where we needed them and that came in handy. We’re a really young team since we only have three seniors. But we have lots of skill and work well together and we’re strong in each area.”
In the opening half, Fuller had a free kick punch over the net less than a quarter of an hour in. Wildcat Jessie Birchall was denied on a short try just past the halfway mark.
Minooka grabbed the early advantage in the 28th minute when Galvan got free on a breakaway and put in the close-range opportunity.
Both sides had a few more chances before the break with Watson having a try deflected, Minooka’s Ali Motsch being thwarted and Central’s Erin Mehelich suffering a similar fate.