CHICAGO -- When coaches put together games for their upcoming season, they typically schedule opponents that are nearby or have some sort of connection with their program.
City schools usually play other city schools and suburban schools often times stick with playing other suburban programs.
Hinsdale Central manager Tony Madonia came up with the idea of having some west suburban teams compete against some of the top Chicago Public League teams and the City-Suburb Connect Invitational was born.
“This tournament is more about getting after it and instead of having another week of practice, getting some minutes in, game-time minutes,” he said. “But more importantly, it’s about getting some insight, and that’s why I thought it’d be a good idea to start last year.
“Offering some insight for when it comes to seeding for the state playoffs, coaches have more information when they’re making decisions on seeding. There hasn’t been too much overlap between city and suburban schools, so that’s more of the bigger picture.”
Last year’s tournament featured Hinsdale Central, Lyons, Jones and Young. This year’s version added Payton and Oswego East.
“When you play teams like these, you have to be better at some of the tactical things, like being in the right positions, disrupting their flow and ultimately maybe playing for the break or set pieces,” Young manager Ross LaBauex said. “And not allowing them to dictate so much of the game.”
The Dolphins, who are ranked 33rd in the Chicagoland Soccer First 50 preseason poll, came off a 6-0 loss to no. 4 Lyons in their first game of the event, which was played at Hinsdale Central. Young hoped to get their first win of the season when they hosted Hinsdale Central in their home opener at the Michelle Obama Athletic Complex, but couldn’t get on the board. The teams finished at 0-0 Thursday evening.
Even though it wasn’t a win, Young was obviously happier with its performance from the night before.
“There were a lot of things we had to work out and now everyone knows their roles, and we can grow into it,” Young’s Lauren Roche said.
“Resilience,” said Young’s Celeste Garton about what they can take from these first games, “I think it’s good when we start off with games like these, because we don’t have time to sulk and keep our heads down. It’s a quick turnaround and good preparation for what we’ve got next week with (no. 40) Payton and (no. 32) Lane.”
After pulling out a 1-0 win in its tournament opener against Payton on Wednesday, HInsdale Central was good with coming up with the clean-sheet.
“The second half, the constant pressure, we really played with a lot of pride, a lot of heart,” Madonia said.
A pretty even first half turned into one that was controlled by Hinsdale Central in the second half.
Much of the game after halftime was played in the Red Devils’ offensive zone. Young was unable to build much pressure against their visitors.
It all came down to some halftime changes Madonia and his staff implemented.
“One minor adjustment we made was to lock down the middle a little bit better, because they have strong midfield players,” Madonia said. “We made a couple adjustments, and it ended up working, helping us possess the ball and be able to move quickly.”
“We really just talked about communication, and making sure that if one player was going to step, we’d come in and support them so that there weren’t people left in the middle,” said Red Devils midfielder Carter Knotts, who earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match for her solid play. “But also just getting the spirit up, getting fired up.
“We really just wanted to get good touches on the ball and making sure that each pass was crisp, communicating who would get the ball. We were hoping that by making those good touches and passes, we’d be able to split the defense.”
LaBauex knew there would be some growing pains after graduating some of the top players in school history, including Chicagoland Soccer All-State players Ella Koleno and Alexis Sassower.
“Any coach can tell you when you lose certain players, the next group has to step up,” the Young manager said. “Your roles change and once your roles change, you need to rise to the occasion. And I think this group is doing that.
“It’s never going to be perfect but I see things that help me know what I want this team to look like. Two games in, we’ve got so many to go.”
The loss of highly skilled players means that other players that have multiple years of varsity experience have to step up. Among those for Young is Roche, who is in her third varsity season and Garton, who is in her fourth. They now have bigger roles than they’ve ever had before.
And it hasn’t been as easy a transition as they may have liked.
“It’s tough,” Garton said. “Whitney Young…we have a reputation to uphold, it’s tough. But we’ve got really good chemistry this year, and I think that shows when we play and (it) will continue to grow.”
“Every year we’ve seen that your role grows bigger, and you take on more responsibility,” Roche said. “I know last year I had so many girls there, if I messed up they were there to help me out. Now it’s me who needs to be there for my teammates.”
HInsdale Central has less experience this season, which makes for an exciting time for the Red Devils coaches.
Seeing new players step up and fill other roles is exactly what the staff has been hoping to see.
“We have a pretty young team with only four seniors and seven or eight returning varsity players, and only a couple of those started games last year,” Madonia said. “We have really strong leadership in Ava Elliott, Maddy Panveno and Carter Knotts. Combined they now have 10 years of varsity experience, so the leadership is palpable.
“The girls really want to get after it. We had a lot of interest from girls in the offseason, but it all goes back to strong leadership for us.”
Young was scheduled to finish the tournament Saturday against Oswego East but the game was postponed because of the weather. The Dolphins compete in top Chicago Public League cross-over matches against Payton and Lane next week.
Hinsdale Central is looking for a make-up date with Jones to finish the tournament. The Red Devils travel to Waubonsie Valley on Monday night.
GK: Mallory Giachetti
D: Katie Lynch
D: Julia Marinaccio
D: Ava Elliott
D: Adriana Giannini
MF: Carter Knotts
MF: Avery Edgewater
MF: Peyton Rohn
MF: Claire Snodgrass
F: Cate McDonnell
F: Gracie Lynch
GK: Marcela Matallana
D: Celeste Garton
D: Cassandra Reyna-Dames
D: Kate Sweitzer
D: Ainsley Christensen
MF: Moira Koleno
MF: Lauren Roche
MF: Danielle Lam
MF: Sonia Liew
F: Kathryn Greenbaum
F: Evelyn Vaughn
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Carter Knotts, sr, MF, Hinsdale Central