CRYSTAL LAKE – Coming off a meniscus injury in his knee suffered toward the end of last season, Crystal Lake South senior Garett Schneider had one assist in the season opener but had yet to score a goal.
That changed in the first half Tuesday against Prairie Ridge when Schneider scored one goal and assisted on another. The Gators went on to beat the Wolves, 4-1, in Fox Valley Conference play.
“The first six games we saw gradual little moments and spurts [from Schneider],” coach Brian Allen said. “Sometimes it just takes a big conference game to put it behind you. I think today was a big confidence boost for him.”
Schneider is healthy now, but the Gators are down two senior starters. Defender Evan Carlson is out with a concussion, and midfielder Sabien Raymond is out one or two weeks with a knee sprain.
“We’re battling a lot of injuries right now, so we’ve got to fill a lot of roles,” Schneider said. “We’re having underclassmen step up to put me in the position to score. It’s real nice to see how the team pulls together through all these problem.”
Sophomores Sam Bahnfleth, Jackson Schuetzle and Michal Dejworek each scored goals in Tuesday’s win. Dejworek assisted on Schneider’s goal in the first half. Senior Alex Canfield also had an assist.
Midway through the second half, Canfield dribbled up the left side of the field and crossed the ball to Dejworek, who punched it into a wide-open net. The goal put the Gators (4-1-2, 1-0 FVC) up by three goals, essentially salting away the game.
“I saw Alex use his speed to get up,” Dejworek said. “I knew I had to be in the box to get there at the right time. [I] kind of called for the ball and just tapped it in when he served it.”
Prairie Ridge (3-3, 0-2) didn’t have much of an answer Tuesday. Freshman Cade Collins scored the Wolves’ only goal on a free kick in the 73rd minute, a low shot that just avoided South’s wall of defenders, nicked the left post and went in.
“We’ve got work to do,” Wolves coach Mark Lewis said. “We’ve struggled to find passes and struggled to find width. Against teams that hit long balls, you’re going to struggle to keep the ball.”
Lewis said Prairie Ridge has shown flashes of potential through its first six games but also has struggled at times. The team has lost conference games to Dundee-Crown and now South.
Allen was proud of his young players – including those three goal-scoring sophomores – for stepping up in the absence of Carlson and Raymond.
“A lot of kids are growing up fast,” Allen said. “I’m looking at it as, this is only a good thing for us in the long run. A lot of guys are getting huge, valuable minutes all over the pitch. Our back line is growing up real fast. Having to replace Evan is a tough challenge to do, and they’ve risen to the challenge.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Crystal Lake South, sr., F
Schneider scored a goal and had an assist for the Gators in a Fox Valley Conference win over Prairie Ridge.
3: Crystal Lake South sophomores who scored goals in Tuesday’s win: Sam Bahnfleth, Michal Dejworek and Jackson Schuetzle.
AND ANOTHER THING …
The win marks two in a row for the defending Class 2A state champion Gators. South takes on Rockford Auburn on Thursday and then enters PepsiCo Showdown play on Saturday.
Crystal Lake South 4, Prairie Ridge 1
PR 0 1 – 1
CLS 2 2 – 4
CLS – Bahnfleth (Schneider assist), 10th minute.
CLS – Schneider (Dejworek), 40th minute.
CLS – Dejworek (Canfield), 60th minute.
CLS – Schuetzle, 62nd minute.
PR – Collins, 73rd minute.
Goalkeeper saves – Prairie Ridge: Erickson 3. Crystal Lake South: Hill 4.