Girls soccer: Helzer records hat trick to lead Huntley past Marian Central

By Michal Dwojak
Shaw Local News Network
Updated 3/22/2023 9:53 PM

Grace Helzer started her senior season with Huntley on the right foot Thursday night: She almost matched her total goals from last season in one night.

Helzer scored four goals as a junior and wanted to take a big step forward this year with the Red Raiders adding a large group of new players. She and Huntley couldn't have asked for a better start to the season as Helzer recorded her first high school hat trick as Huntley took down Marian Central, 6-0.


"It feels awesome to be able to start like that and have these opportunities with my teammates," Helzer said. "It feels really great and I'm excited to see where the rest of the season will take me and my team."

The Red Raiders (1-0) didn't take long to show off their high-scoring potential. Huntley created its first look on a fast break when Chloe Pfaff escaped three defenders in the Hurricanes end and found an open Morgan McCaughn, who tapped the ball in with 36:34 left in the first half.

Helzer got in on the action not long after, scoring her first goal when she received a pass from Ali Hornberg and got past Marian goalkeeper Anna Lingle to score with 26:47 left in the opening half. She scored again with 21:57 left in the first half when she and McCaughn were in a two-versus-one fast break against Lingle.

"We were able to get that confidence and momentum after that first goal," Helzer said. "I think that really got the first game nerves out of everyone's system and we were able to go from there."

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Helzer knotted her third goal of the night in the opening minute of the second half when she drove to the net and scored on a ball that went through Lingle's legs. Alex Szydlowski made it 4-0 Huntley with 10:47 left in the match and Pfaff scored her first high school goal with 40 seconds left remaining.

While the Red Raiders found gaps to create scoring chances, they limited the Hurricanes from creating any of their own. Marian had two shots on goal in the match and failed to move the ball into Huntley's third of the field for much of the match.

Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski credited the Hurricanes struggles to his team's new strategy of swarming the ball and not letting its opponent possess the ball for too long.

"Hopefully that's something that we're able to continue to do all season," Lewandowski said. "Really limit opportunities for other teams."


Marian (0-1) coach Megan Graf thought her team's inexperience and lack of practice time were reasons why the Hurricanes struggled. Graff said Marian struggled with playing its new 3-5-2 formation and thought miscommunication between her midfielders and defenders allowed Huntley to find gaps to score.

While Graf didn't want to start the season with a loss, she was encouraged Marian could learn quickly after only practicing a couple days heading into Thursday's opener.

"I'm not really disappointed," Graf said. "I think we have a bright future for the rest of the season."

Marian will return to action quickly Thursday when it travels to Marengo while Huntley will travel to Stevenson on Friday.

Stevenson has won four straight regional titles and the Red Raiders are excited to see just how well their new-look squad can play against one of the state's best.

"This is how we can perform and this is how we should continue to perform," Helzer said. "Overall, it's very exciting to see that we have this potential in us."

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