WHEELING — For the first 23 minutes of Tuesday night’s Chicago Prep Conference matchup, Rochelle Zell senior goalkeeper Talia
Scholder moved about as much as the goalposts behind her did.
The Tiger basically stood around for that span, because all of the action was taking place at the other end of Rochelle Zell’s home-away-from-home at the Heritage Park Sports Complex.
But Scholder had to do something else — stand out — in the final 15 minutes of Rochelle Zell’s 1-0 league victory over Ida Crown, making the bulk of her six saves, smothering a threat here and a threat there and popping up to catch a dangerous corner kick in traffic.
“A shutout, in a conference game, showing fearlessness like she did … Talia was the MVP tonight,” Rochelle Zell coach David Martinez said of his fourth-year varsity keeper, who worked hard under the guidance of Tigers goalkeeper coach Nick Rojas in the offseason. “Ida Crown competed very well for a team that had played only two games before today; they came at us late, put pressure on us.
“Talia,” he continued, “helped me breathe again after some of the outstanding plays she made out there.”
Ida Crown’s defense battled admirably in chilly conditions, holding a five-win team scoreless until the 77th minute.
Deerfield-based Rochelle Zell (6-2-0, 3-1-0 CPC) had entered Tuesday’s contest with a 34-15 goal differential and skipped to a 9-4 defeat of visiting Our Lady of Tepeyac the day before.
It was quite fitting that Rochelle Zell junior forward Becca Berkeley — a constant threat all night with her speed and promising crosses and electric shots — netted the game’s lone
“Lefty, with a strong leg,” Ida Crown junior midfielder/ace hoopster Ilana Schwartz — the reigning 2022-23 CPC Player of the Year in girls basketball — said of Berkeley. “Crosses, shots … she can do it all.”
But she could not have scored without the help of Rochelle Zell junior midfielder Ahava Cohen and sophomore forward Elana Cohen (no relation), whose corner kick preceded Berkeley’s tally.
Ahava Cohen kept the corner kick sequence alive via her hustle, alertness and sense of urgency.
Right after scooting to secure a loose ball, Ahava Cohen looked up for a teammate.
“I saw Elana and knew she had the talent to make a good cross,” she said, “So I passed it to her.”
Berkeley, planted just inside the 18, controlled Elana Cohen’s swell delivery and then blasted a shot past Lady Aces junior keeper Rena Neiger (four saves).
The win was Rochelle Zell’s third straight against Ida Crown in regular-season games since Ida Crown coach Leo Rodriguez took the post at the Skokie-based school in 2021.
“We’ll probably see them again (in the CPC tournament),” Rodriguez said.
In stark contrast, Ida Crown’s record vs. Rochelle Zell in CPC tourney action under Rodriguez is 2-0.
The Lady Aces topped the Tigers in a semifinal two years ago and avenged the regular-season loss last spring in the match for third place.
The CPC playoffs begin May 1 at Harrison Park in Chicago.
“It’s a fun rivalry,” Rodriguez said before Tuesday night’s kickoff.
In Tuesday’s action, Rochelle Zell sophomore back Sarena Sklar played sturdy D in both halves. Time after time, she either controlled a 50/50 ball to initiate a transition or clogged up an Ida Crown rush with her sound anticipatory skills.
In the second half, Sklar backpedaled adeptly while closely defending Ida Crown sophomore midfielder Daria Lennon and thwarted another push from the visitors.
“To never be scared of the ball,” Sklar said of her minute-1-to-minute-80 mindset.
“Sarena,” an animated Berkeley yelped afterward, “is ruthless, and we love her, love how she plays. I’m proud of her.
“I’m proud of how our entire team played tonight.”
Tigers Meira Lieberman, a junior, and Moriya Mlotek, a sophomore, also came up big on D late. Lieberman struck a couple of clears about a minute before Berkeley’s goal. Mlotek caught up to a dribbling Lady Ace near a sideline on a breakaway and forced a turnover, kicking the ball off the foe’s frame.
The ball landed out of bounds as another Ida Crown opportunity squelched.
Scholder made two of her biggest stops — in a split second, maybe less — in the 67th minute, blocking a Schwartz shot-on-goal and then absorbing a point-blank rebound shot off the foot of senior forward Gabi Rosenzweig thereafter.
“Talia stuck with it, hung in there,” Martinez said.
Rochelle Zell faces Holy Trinity on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Humboldt Park in Chicago, then won’t play again until April 17, when the Tigers host North Chicago’s Lady Warhawks at 5 p.m.
Ida Crown (1-2-0, 0-1-1) visits Cristo Rey on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., before the Lady Aces also take an extended break. Ida Crown
resumes its season with a road match at Our Lady of Tepeyac on April 18 at 6 p.m.
Ida Crown coach Leo Rodriguez, a 2012 Mundelein graduate, earned IHSSCA all-sectional honors as a Mustangs center midfielder as a senior. He then played soccer at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Rodriguez also serves as Ida Crown’s boys soccer coach. … Rochelle Zell coach David Martinez, on the number of games (seven) his club had played in the early going of a wet and flurry-ish and frigid season before Tuesday night’s clash with visiting Ida Crown: “Turf,” he said, looking down at the artificial surface of the pitch at Heritage Park Sports Complex. ‘This has allowed us to play most of our games.” … Martinez, on Ida Crown junior midfielder Ilana Schwartz, a gritty, talented Lady Ace: “I told her, ‘I can’t wait for you to graduate.’” Schwartz almost scored at the midpoint of the second half, glancing a sizzling, 20-yard shot off the far post. … Talia vs. Talia: sophomore midfielder Talia Linzer thumped Ida Crown’s first shot-on-goal Tuesday in the 23rd minute. Rochelle Zell’s Talia Scholder halted it. … “Lackluster start,” Rodriguez admitted. But his squad picked it up in the second half, connecting passes and generating considerably more scoring opportunities. “We never gave up,” Schwartz said. “Even after they scored, we stayed positive and played with intensity.” … Rochelle Zell’s Berkeley, a Chicagoland Soccer Little All-State Team member and junior midfielder Abby Singer found each other often on deep rushes in the first half Tuesday. None of the connections led to a goal, but near misses in The Beautiful Game are often attractive.
GK Rena Neiger
D Ella Perlman
D Gabi Sander
D Rotem Lavi
MF Ayelet Appel
MF Daria Lennon
MF Talia Linzer
M Ella Kakon
MF Ilana Schwartz
F Gabi Rosenzweig
F Leeya Starck
GK Talia Scholder
D Meira Lieberman
D Issy Wolle
D Sarena Sklar
D Moriya Mlotek
MF Zoey Weiss
MF Eliana Shapira
MF Hannah Melman
MF Ahava Cohen
F Becca Berkeley
F Elana Cohen
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Talia Scholder, sr., GK, Rochelle Zell
Rochelle Zell — Berkeley (E. Cohen, A. Cohen), 77’