GRAYSLAKE — Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson needed to try something, anything, to yank his club out of the doldrums after a 0-3-0 start.
He chose levity, via a fun in-house bet, before Tuesday night’s nonconference match against visiting Warren in frigid, windy conditions on the second day of spring, which is doing a wonderful job of impersonating winter.
“Our (3-0) loss to Mundelein yesterday was … bad,” admitted Andersson, whose club opened the season with a 3-2 loss to Carmel (ranked no. 18 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25) on March 15 and fell 2-0 to no. 10 Deerfield two days later.
“So I told my team tonight, ‘Just go out there and play, and I won’t yell, won’t say a word, in the first half.’”
Rams senior tri-captain and midfielder Katie Dinsmore doubted Andersson's ability to go full mime for 40 minutes.
The coach’s response: “Wanna bet?”
Dinsmore did, with a free lunch at stake the next day.
Andersson won the bet and assured Dinsmore that he would order a Big Mac rather than a pricey steak sandwich. His side, a Class AA school, tied 3A Warren 0-0, though it felt like a win to him because of his crew’s sturdy effort against a formidable foe.
Warren is ranked just outside of the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25.
“Warren is an amazing team,” Andersson said of the Blue Devils, who bowed 1-0 to no. 8 New Trier in their season-opener on March 15. “I expect Warren to go far in the playoffs this year.
“We looked good out there, much better,” he continued. “We didn’t bite; we stayed under control, defensively. I’m proud of the way we played tonight.”
They applied the heat, offensively, in the first few minutes Tuesday night. Warren junior goalkeeper Audrey Groth notched a save in the first minute and had to deal with another threat from the hosts shortly thereafter.
Andersson, meanwhile, must have been thinking, “Maybe silence is indeed golden.”
Rams senior keeper Ella Tews (four saves) made her first stop of the night in minute 5, denying splendid freshman midfielder Kate Mondejar, who had received a smooth feed from Warren co-captain Reese Mertens.
Tews, sporting neon-orange (think traffic pylon) togs, thought seriously about hanging up her gloves after last week’s season opener. But Andersson convinced her to stick with it.
Tews appeared grateful for her coach’s persuasive skills after Tuesday’s tie.
So did a pair of her teammates.
“She’s positive, always positive,” Grayslake Central sophomore midfielder Dahlia Rodriguez said of last spring’s JV netminder, who hadn’t played a second of organized soccer before high school.
“Ella,” Rams junior back Avalyn Woods added,” never backs down.”
Woods came up with huge rush-busters in front of Tews several times, including twice in a two-minute span early in the second half.
Grayslake Central freshman midfielder Ava Henne earned heaps of praise from Andersson and shared Chicagoland Soccer MVP honors with Warren sophomore defender Maya Martinek, normally a center-back but more of a six (defensive midfielder) versus Grayslake Central.
“Maya is hard-nosed and does a nice job of connecting passes for us,” Blue Devils coach Ryan McCabe said. “We moved her up to the six, because she certainly can be dynamic on the ball. She’s a nice pivot player.”
Andersson, on Henne: “She’s such a strong player for a freshman. What a game she had. She was all over the field tonight.”
Two of McCabe’s booters couldn’t take the field and two more had to exit it late in the second half. Warren lost senior midfielder Emma Paraskos (ACL tear, incurred in practice on March 16) for the season, and junior back Mia Gloria got injured in the New Trier game but is expected to return to action.
Warren sophomore Addison Stanciak, a marvelous forward, and reserve junior forward Kaitlyn McCaughey each suffered a leg injury Tuesday night.
“Tonight we tried to find our identity (without Paraskos and Gloria),” McCabe said.
“People had to play out of position, and many of them stepped up, especially Kate (Mondejar),” Martinek said. “We worked hard. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we gave our best effort.”
Warren (0-1-1) travels to Highland Park’s Wolters Field) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and then doesn’t play again until April 3 at Glenbrook South.
Grayslake Central (0-3-1) visits no. 17 Libertyville on Thursday at 7 p.m., and is off until it hits the road for a game at Vernon Hills on April 4.
Andersson is a 1989 Libertyville graduate.
“Always a grudge match, the Grayslake Central-Libertyville matchup,” cracked a smiling Andersson, who coached the Grayslake Central boys to a Class AA third place finish last fall.
Warren coach and central Illinois native Ryan McCabe, the Blue Devils’ coach since 2012, played soccer at now-defunct Lincoln College in Illinois before transferring to Eastern Illinois University. He suited up as a defender. … Warren allowed the goal in its 1-0 loss to NT last week in the 72nd minute. “New Trier has the horses, again, and we had some first-game jitters,” McCabe said. “But we withstood their onslaught and numerous corners.” … Andersson, on scheduling bigger schools to face his Rams early each spring. “Going up against those programs gets us ready for our conference (Northern Lake County) games. It never hurts to battle bigger, faster, better teams.” … Former Grayslake Central standout (Class of 22) and current Loyola University keeper Piper Gallaher took in Tuesday’s game from the Rams’ sideline. … Senior Katie Dinsmore (D) and juniors Sara Armstrong (MF) and Ava Ramsey (MF) serve as Grayslake Central’s captains this spring. Warren’s captains are junior midfielder Reese Mertens and senior defender Paige Hogberg. … Grayslake Central keeper Ella Tews, on junior defender Avalyn Woods: “She’s so efficient, and you can rely on her.”
GK Audrey Groth
D Alex Brock
D Maya Martinek
D Paige Hogberg
MF Reese Mertens
MF Sophia Ogren
MF Alina May
MF Angelica Amezquita
MF Kate Mondejar
MF Arly Melchor
F Addison Stanciak
GK Ella Tews
D Avalyn Woods
D Hayli Pruitt
D Katie Dinsmore
D Kate Kruse
MF Ava Henne
MF Sara Armstrong
MF Dahlia Rodriguez
MF Ava Ramsey
MF Jordan Sutter
F Mari Williams
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Maya Martinek, soph., D, Warren; Ava Henne, fr., MF, Grayslake Central