BENSENVILLE – Spring break games often lack the fanfare of the majority of regular-season games.
Late-morning games in the middle of the week, especially during spring break, add another layer of concern over a possible lack of intensity and effort, which can be compounded by the likelihood of an incomplete roster.
In South Elgin’s case, three Storm team members were unavailable during spring break.
South Elgin ignored any and all distractions to post a dominating 4-0 Upstate Eight Conference win at Fenton.
A slight spray of snow greeted the visitors upon their arrival Wednesday morning, but the prospect of playing on a grass field – like their home venue – provided a source of comfort for the visitors.
Fenton normally plays its home games at Redmond Recreational Complex, an off-campus location. But this match was played on the smaller home stadium field, nestled next to Route 83. The busy suburban location adjacent to railroad tracks and near O’Hare Airport, allowed for a unique and loud additional soundtrack that included planes, trains and automobiles.
“We play on grass all the time outside all the time,” South Elgin junior forward Ella Dihel said. “So, we just make sure we ... are ready to make that first touch despite the bumpiness of the field. (That) is always important.”
South Elgin coach Jerzy Skowron said his players adapted to the playing field, noting that patchy areas with some unevenness on the natural surface didn’t bother his team.
Skowron certainly wasn’t in a hurry to leave the site of the win -- he talked in depth with his players following the match. By the time the Storm finished their postgame chat, the Bison players and coaches were long gone.
Quality shutout victories, even during spring break, are meant to be cherished – even on the road.
“They always are at Redmond, but are finally re-doing the turf at Redmond,” Skowron said. “We’re a grass team, so playing here was at our advantage. The field is a lot narrower than we’re used to. People usually say South Elgin is too narrow, but compared to this, it’s a little different. It was like playing at home for them.”It wasn’t a pretty 80-minute game, but three goals in the first half makes up for a lot of things.
Fenton (0-2-0, 0-2-0) was limited to one shot. Meanwhile, the Storm missed opportunity after opportunity. Fenton goalkeeper Jovana Govedarica racked up 17 saves in the defeat.
Skowron said his players struggled at times.
“I think not having that extra five yards of width … messed them up centrally,” he said. “We eventually got it. The biggest thing for us was finishing. It easily could’ve been 7-0 at halftime.
“We even had more chances in the second half. We’ll put that to practice Thursday and Friday and hopefully use that to our advantage on Saturday against Hampshire. We’re very young and inexperienced, so these girls are learning on the fly and will get their education really quick.”
The Storm (2-1-1, 2-0-1) enter their nonconference game at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Hampshire with two-straight wins.
Freshman Nevaeh Gyurko sparked the Storm to earn the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor against Fenton. Her brace included a tap-in with 42 seconds left in the game.
The forward is quickly establishing herself as a player to watch in the conference. The 5-foot-9 dynamo is talkative, athletic and active on the pitch. With better finishing, her goal total in the game would have swelled.
She scored her first goal on a high-arching shot that just cleared the keeper’s fingertips in the 25th minute.
“The first goal, I just shot it and whatever happens just happens. It went it, so that was nice,” Gyurko said.
“On my second goal, Kiara (Andrewin) had an amazing pass that was perfect because the defender was on my back. I need to work on my play in the air and more goals will come. We have a great team this year.”
Dihel scored the final goal of the first half to raise her season total to three.
“It was a great through-ball by Ellie (Vidic), and I was just making sure I got the right touch to put it right in the corner away from the goalie,” Dihel said.
“In the second half, we played a lot better and used the shorter field to our advantage. I feel good about the season so far. We have diversity within our play, so that’s super important.
Skowron said his team is looking forward to build off their start, in spite of the paucity of games in the first three weeks of the season.
“We’re excited to play at Hampshire,” he said. “They got us at home last year. It was a snowy day. Hopefully, we will repay the favor.
“We just know that they have a quality team and are a good test for us. These girls probably think I’m joking, but we appreciate giving them instruction at halftime, and they apply that.”
South Elgin freshman midfielder Laura Garcia is part of a young contingent that has Skowron excited about the future of the program.
“I feel the grass affected us, but overall I think we did a pretty good job,” Garcia said. “In the second half, we started to get more comfortable and communicating. I feel we have a really talented group of girls on the team.”
South Elgin senior goalie Karissa Cruz had an uneventful day in net. Fenton’s best scoring chance was a 54th-minute shot over the post.
Backup goalie Jersie Spiedel played the final 20 minutes for the Storm. Senior defender Lesly Ulloa sat out the game due to an injury, but Madelyn Baker, Cami Stokes, Malle Dunne all stepped up, Skowron said.
"It’s our second conference shutout,” he said. “I like my goalies bored. We were able to get Jersie in for 20 minutes.
“We gave up a penalty kick to Glenbard East. That easily could’ve been a shutout. We’re going to eventually have to get Lesly into the swing.
"Madelyn filled in great today. Cami did well back there. We have to get her to be more of a vocal leader back there. Malle is at the right place all the time. It’s a testament to our backline for controlling and forwarding all the attacks and advances that the other teams have been giving us.”
Stokes, a junior defender, echoed Skowron’s words about the defense.
“Our backline has been working really hard, and our forwards and everybody else have been doing a good job keeping the ball on their half,” Stokes said. “We definitely dominated the last 30 minutes of the game, just constantly having shots.”
GK: Karissa Cruz
D: Madelyn Baker
D: Malle Dunne
D: Cami Stokes
D: Laura Garcia
MF: Adeline Kinsella
MF: Kiara Andrewin
MF: Elle Vidic
MF: Alyssa Doherty
F: Ella Dihel
F: Nevaeh Gyurko
GK: Jovana Govedarica
D: Mariel Lara
D: Stephanie Ramirez
D: Sihomara DeLaCruz
D: Grecia Zumaya
MF: Adamary Gomez
MF: Adamaris Maldonado
MF: Betsy Sanabria
MF: Julia Siwecka
F: Kelsey Roque
F: Kayla Larsen
Chicagoland MVP of the Match: Nevaeh Gyurko, fr., F, South Elgin
South Elgin: Vidic (Garcia), 15’
South Elgin: Gyurko (Defensor), 25’
South Elgin: Dihel (Vidic), 35’
South Elgin: Gyurko (Andrewin), 80’