A mini Raider Nation, led by Huntley’s JV, freshman, and sophomore soccer boys, was as loud as ever on Tuesday night as the Red Raiders faced McHenry under the lights at home.
The starting line up consisted of mostly seniors, including one of two rotating goaltenders, senior Michael Parks.
With it being Senior Night, it made sense that head coach Kris Grabner adjust his lineup and focus the game on those boys, who would be playing one of their last games on Huntley turf as a Red Raider.
For the team, going into Tuesday night’s 2-1 win, they knew they needed to win this one for the seniors.
From the start of the game, ball possession was sloppy. Neither team having total control of the ball made it hard for Huntley to dominate.
Yet early in the first half, the McHenry Warriors scored after barely keeping the ball in bounds. They capitalized on Huntley’s mistakes down on defense and gained possession of the ball multiple times.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, they were beating us to a lot of balls in the first half,” Grabner said.
With cheers continuing from the smaller yet more intense Raider Nation, and the arrival of Mr. O, Huntley’s beloved “super fan” and good luck charm, the Red Raiders came back from halftime as a more unified team.
Junior Raul Valladares scores the first goal of the night for Huntley within a minute of the start of the second half, making the score 1-1.
“We got a couple of very timely goals as well, which helped boost our confidence out there” Grabner said.
After many shots from both teams, the ball hadn’t touched the net in what felt like forever.
The second half ended with the game still tied. Yet after the first 10 minute overtime, the game was continuing into another.
Then, halfway through the second overtime, senior Aaron Ruffner sends the ball flying past the goalie when everyone least expects it.
The boys run to Ruffner, sprinting from their spot on the field, flying down to the players who are already celebrating the win with a huddle.
“It’s amazing,” Ruffner said. “With it being senior night and this being our last game playing on this turf for conference, us winning this game means that we have a chance to win conference which would be such an amazing experience.”
The win tonight for Huntley was an important one, after recently winning the Pepsi Showdown earlier this month, it was important to keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the season.
“For us to come back like that and to fight back like that, I thought we controlled the play in the second half and forced them to play less of their game,” Grabner said.
Huntley’s next game is this Thursday at Crystal Lake South at 4:30 p.m.