PEOTONE — Lauren Phillips couldn’t be stopped Tuesday evening.
The Coal City junior scored a pair of goals in the Coalers’ Interstate Eight matchup at Peotone, netting her second in the final minutes to give her team a 2-1 win.
“She is usually wherever the ball is,” Coalers coach Todd Painter said of Phillips. “She has a knack for being there, and we call her our cleanup person because any time there’s a shot, we want her there for the rebound. I knew she would be (at the net). It was just a matter of getting (the ball) there, which is something we had struggled with a bit lately.”
Phillps’ first goal came early on, when her shot off of a rebound initially was slowed by Blue Devil keeper Rachel Paw. While Paw was able to get a mitt on it, she was unable to corral it before it barely slid past the goal line.
“We’re always going to be disappointed with an outcome where we’re not ahead, but we played well, especially in the second half,” Peotone coach Logan Hurley said. “We definitely had our opportunities, but (Coal City) was tough. It’s a tough loss for sure.”
After about an hour of play, neither team had found the back of the net, thanks to stellar defense and goalkeeping on both sides.
But that changed in the 67th minute, when Maggie Walsh broke free and got her own rebound before putting it past CC goalie Helen Onsen for the equalizer.
“I felt like, really, in the second half, [forward] Carli [Rickson] played well, and Maggie played lights out up top,” Hurley said. “We had those opportunities, but we have to put more of them away. When you don’t score, it makes it difficult. But I’m not disappointed with how they played at all.”
It appeared as if overtime was imminent as the final minutes of regulation began to wind down. But with just four minutes to play, Sydni Bortles Sent a cross from the right wing to Phillips, who put another in the net for the late go-ahead goal.
According to Phillips, the cross she received from Bortles was representative of the solid team soccer the Coalers played.
“The defense did an amazing job, and the midfield did a great job of bringing the ball outside and getting it inside,” Phillips said. “All I had to do was the easy work.”
The Coalers’ midfield, led by senior Bridget Kauzlaric, was strong all evening and did a nice job of pushing the ball from one end of the pitch to the other.
And for Painter, seeing Kauzlaric lead the troops on the field is nothing new.
“Today and everyday, she controls the middle of the field, and the hard part is that every team knows it,” Painter said. “They double her, get physical with her and try to get her out of her element, and she fights through it every game, no matter how many people they put on her.”
Peotone will be back in action today for a 4:30 p.m. matchup at Illiana Christian.
Coal City has another conference game set for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, hosting Manteno.