SOUTH HOLLAND | Illiana Christian's girls soccer team made itself so at home on the Fenton end of the pitch in the first half of Tuesday's match, the Vikings might as well have had their mail forwarded there.
In the second half, however, Fenton's side saw the benefits of playing offense and made enough runs to make it a contest before falling to the Vikings, 1-0, in the Metro Suburban League match.
The victory improved the Vikings' league record to 1-1 and overall record to 9-2-1, while the Bison fell to 1-2 in league, and 2-6-1 overall.
"I thought we played a great first half," Vikings coach AJ Turkstra said. "After the first six or eight minutes, I thought we turned it on and dominated. In the second half, (Fenton) put on a nice push to try and come up with an equalizer."
The Bison almost managed that equalizer 10 minutes into the second half when Gissel Garcia swept up a loose ball near midfield and launched it ahead to forward Kaylee Webster, who broke free past the Vikings backline and launched a point-blank shot at Vikings goalkeeper Emily Tuuk, who executed a kick save that Turkstra described as the play of the match.
"I really didn't think I had any chance of saving it," said Tuuk of the shot from 10 feet away. "You can usually tell from a player's eyes where they are going to shoot, and her eyes were kind of facing that way. I just dove out, and my foot was there to save the shot."
Though the Bison attempted six shots in the second half, the attempt by Webster was the only real challenge Tuuk faced the entire match.
"The defense really held down the win for us," Turkstra said. "Emily's kick save was huge, Caroline (Torin), my sweeper, always plays well, and midfielder Megan Knapper and Katie Ketelaar both really played well today."
The Vikings outshot the Bison 11-1 in the first half, and finally broke through with 15 minutes left in the first half when Toren sent a long pass ahead to left forward Emma Pawlowski, who had enough room to either make a run at the goal, or look for a teammate.
"I just looked right across, and I was in a perfect line with (Kristen Corral)," Pawlowski said. "So I crossed it and knew it was going to go in, because Kristen is amazing."
The close distance of Corral's winning shot was similar to the one Tuuk turned back in the second half to preserve the win.
"That shot I took was just one of many chances we had," Corral said. "But we won the game, so it works."