Second for the second year in a row

Huskies unable to stave off Lake Forest in State championship

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By CAM WIGTON

It just wasn't Oak Park and River Forest's day.

Lake Forest claimed its second-straight Illinois High School Field Hockey Association (IHSFHA) championship with a 3-0 win over OPRF on Saturday in Oak Park. After a 0-0 first-half tie, the Scouts dominated play in the second half en route to claiming their fifth State title.

"Really, Lake Forest was just better than us today," said OPRF coach Barb Liles. "They really played phenomenal. I think in every respect they took us out of our game and we were not able to execute. Their overall team speed, stick skills, passing ability and shooting was just great?#34;it was their game. But, I am really proud of my kids and they need to remember their great season, not just this last game."

The Scouts (19-1) tallied their first goal just over four minutes into the second half when senior midfielder Jenner Johnson smacked a goal off of a corner kick. Lake Forest struck again at 23:33 when forward Jenna Dancewicz capitalized on quality ball movement and found an opening past OPRF goalie Kelsey Rosenquist. Dancewicz then capped the scoring at the 14:49 mark to ensure back-to-back state championships for her team.

Despite splitting games during the regular season, Liles knew Lake Forest was a force to be reckoned with and knew her squad would have their hands full in the final.

"They just kept getting better each time we played them," she said. "We made a lot of mistakes today, but it was a lot of forced errors because Lake Forest is such a good team. I don't think we played poorly, they were just better than us. Once they gained momentum with that first goal, they just kept rolling."

Despite the loss, OPRF (17-3) still had something to celebrate?#34;senior Tori Karsten was presented with the IHSFHA 2005 Player of the Year trophy after the game. The senior, who will be joining her sister A.J. on the University of Delaware field hockey team next year, led the Huskies with 33 goals and nine assists. Despite the accolades, Karsten wished her squad prevailed.

"Their (Lake Forest) intensity coming out was very impressive," she said. "They had really good shots and they just kept coming. We weren't able to get our offense going and it hurt us. We tried to keep things in their half of the field, but they really played great defense. It is amazing to get this award, because I have been working all season to get it, so it feels really good. But a State win would have made it that much better."

Along with losing Karsten next year, Liles loses seniors Ana Brady, Katie Todd, Alissa Pullos, Amanda Burns, Allison Vogel, Alana Breen, Kendra Zager and Hannah Stephens. Liles knows her seniors will be hard to replace, but she has faith in her underclassmen stepping up next year to bring OPRF back to the State tourney.

"I was really proud of what they did this year," she said. "Obviously, I lose a lot of seniors, but all of our kids know what they need to do to get better. I think we will be fine for next year because they will work hard in the off season and then we will go from there."

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