CROWN POINT | It was the only way this one could appropriately end, Crown Point coach Chris Mikrut said. It had to be a great goal. It couldn't be a fluke.
Kara Ford got just enough room to lay a perfect cross over the top from the right side at 79:31. Freshman Delaney Benich had no choice but to pop it into net, and the Times No. 2 Bulldogs topped No. 3 Kankakee Valley 1-0 in a defensive battle between Duneland and Northwest Crossroads Conference powers.
"I just knew it was the last minute and it was the last chance we were going to get," Ford said. "I knew I had to get it to the far post."
Ford said she didn't know that Benich would be there, but the senior knew the freshman should be there.
"I just knew I had to make the play," Ford said. "It felt great. You can't even describe it."
The loss is K.V.'s first of the season. Coach Alex Conklin said his team was heartbroken at the loss of a perfect season.
"I wish that (goal) wouldn't have gone in, but these things happen. This is soccer," Conklin said. "We had plenty of opportunities, and they had plenty of opportunities."
"They just got one and we didn't."
Neither team was able to maintain possession early, but C.P. (9-3-1) was able to keep the ball on the Kougars' side of the pitch for most of the first half.
Kankakee Valley (12-1) got over the nerves, though, and was able to put some pressure on the Bulldogs defense. The half ended with the ball bouncing around the box in front of Crown Point keeper Meghan Morasan before the Kougars could get off a good shot.
"I can't be prouder in my crew than I am tonight," Conklin said. "I told them before the game, 'Let's get some people to pay attention a little bit'. I think everybody's taking a little notice."
K.V. had all the momentum in the early second half. The Kougars put three shots on goal over a two-minute stretch.
Natalie Lotz rocketed a shot about 6 inches over the crossbar. Haleigh Wenglarz then missed left on a breakaway. Lotz then found Wenglarz, who sent a bullet at the Crown Point goal but Morasan made a diving save.
"I thought both keepers played great games," Mikrut said. "I told Meghan after the game that was who I was looking for all year. She really stepped up (Thursday) and played great."
Morasan and her counterpart Mackenzie DeMars each finished with six big saves.
Lotz was called for a hand ball in the box in the 63rd minute and Lauren O'Keefe was awarded a penalty kick. O'Keefe's shot floated over the goal and the game remained tied.
The Kougars were without defender Jessica Young, who had a death in the family.