NAPERVILLE – Maddie Grandys saw an opportunity, so she took it.
Grandys, a Yorkville junior, didn't have many Tuesday. She was playing defensive midfielder, so chances were at a premium.
But she caught Neuqua Valley by surprise.
Grandys scored 21 seconds after a Wildcats' goal, momentarily tying their Class 4A Naperville Central Regional game in its 24th minute.
"I really wanted to get that goal right after they scored," Grandys said. "It was a little tougher, staying back and defending our goal. I needed to get that opportunity."
Second-seeded Neuqua eventually went on to a 5-1 win over the 15th-seeded Foxes, but Yorkville more than held its own for at least a half.
The Foxes (9-8-2) kept it scoreless for 25 minutes, and trailed just 2-1 at the half.
"We knew they were going to be a good team," Grandys said. "I think they expected us to be a lot less competitive than we were."
The Foxes were indeed feisty, Grandys answering Erin McCarthy's rebound shot with her own score with 15:23 left in the half.
"It was a great way to respond," Foxes coach Mike Wiest said. "It started at midfield with Yari [Aguado], she started the break. Sami [Tull] did a great job of a one/two with Maddie and Maddie was able to put it in the back of the net. It was a great moment for us."
Grandys has had plenty of great moments this season.
Scoring isn't her specialty, but it became a little more necessary this season after Yorkville graduated a large senior class led by Peyton Willie. Grandys tallied double-digit goals this season for the Foxes, alternating between midfield and forward.
"I was excited to take on that scoring role, but also it was hard for me," Grandys said. "I've always been more of a facilitator, that's my mindset. It's hard to turn that around. But it still feels really good to score."
Neuqua (10-4-4) took the lead for good Tuesday on Alison Dovalovsky's 25-yard shot that trickled in with 7:25 left in the first half. The Wildcats tacked on three goals in the second half, two by Piper Biziorek.
But Wiest saluted the effort of his team, one of the younger around. The Foxes' roster Tuesday included seven freshmen, two sophomores and four juniors.
"We were hanging with them for the majority of the first half," Wiest said. "They were able to put a couple in the back of the net, but the effort was there. To compete with one of the better teams in our sectional, I coudn't be prouder. They fought."
In a season of flux, the Foxes showed great progress.
Yorkville started its season 1-3, but gathered itself to post a winning season. Included in that latter stretch was two draws with DeKalb and a win over Kaneland in the regular season finale.
"We had a great season," Grandys said. "We have a lot of good freshmen. It will be sad saying goodbye to the seniors, but from where we started to where we ended up, we worked our hardest and it showed."
Yorkville will graduate four seniors, including Aguado, Katie Straznickas, Abby Wahl and Jazmine Ramos.
"The improvement this year was unbelievable," Wiest said. "We didn't know exactly what we had, but we have a heck of a team. The seniors led us well and they brought along the rest of the girls. The girls have a lot to be proud of."