HINSDALE – Oswego East senior goalie Sam McPhee was at the ready Saturday against Hinsdale Central.
With her team locked in a scoreless draw, McPhee displayed her leadership and talents, especially in an inspiring second half performance in harsh weather conditions.
From the opening whistle, the Tiffin University recruit’s stellar play in the net helped keep the hard-charging and aggressive Red Devils scoreless, notching four saves in the second half to stop a hard-charging Red Devils' attack intent on notching an early-season upset.
Throughout the tense battle, McPhee and her backline maintained solid communication to record another shutout.
Unlike last year, when the Wolves cruised to a 4-0 win over the Red Devils, the 2023 outcome between the two teams did not feature goals nor a victor.
The Wolves, ranked no. 13 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, and Hinsdale Central had to settle for a scoreless afternoobn draw at Dickinson Field. When the hosts final shot of the game failed to find the back of the net, several players on both teams slumped to the ground in frustration over the scoreless outcome.
A starter on last season’s historic 18-win team that won the program's first regional title, McPhee showed she’s ready to lead a revamped Wolves’ team this spring. She played outstanding in the net, even withstanding a pair of in-game injuries to finish with eight saves.
“I got (hit) too many times to count,” McPhee said, smiling and joking. “We worked really well together back there and stayed compacted and trusted each other. We kept our composure, and the weather didn’t affect us. We played hard. We wished we would’ve come out with a win, though.”
McPhee set the tone with a punch-out save in the 17th minute. She added two saves in the first 11 minutes of the second half en route to another shutout. Led by McPhee and a solid backline, the Wolves (4-1-1) claimed their fifth shutout of the season, They have outscored their opponents by an eye-opening 25-1 mark.
McPhee is one of eight starters back from last season. The Wolves, who have six players committed to play in college, have lofty goals for this season.
McPhee said she’s motivated to be more of a leader and consistent player this spring.
“As a goalie, you always have to be a leader on the team and hold everybody accountable,” McPhee said. “I definitely feel more people trust me and look up to me more. I feel I have a bigger role than last year. I love playing soccer. It’s my life, so playing over spring break was no big deal for me.”
Oswego East coach Juan Leal credited McPhee and his backline for overcoming the elements to post the shutout. The nonconference game had a mixture of cold, heavy wind, rain and hail. Even sunshine made a brief appearance late in the first half and with 12 minutes remaining in the second.
“Sam had a stellar, stellar game and put herself out there and communicated with the backline,” Leal said. “She got them organized and was definitely our player of the game today. Our entire backline, including Veronica Hamilton, Emma Rosenthal, Jocy Cruz and Sami Esquivel played great. We had a lot of good players helping out with the defense.
“We’re looking to rebound after this and get our momentum offensively. When you go up against a good defensive team, it’s good to know where you stand. This was a good game for us to figure our offensive attack.”
Hinsdale Central expressed happiness after holding the Wolves scoreless but understood they missed out on a golden opportunity for an early-season signature victory. The Red Devils (2-0-2) notched their third shutout in four games this season.
“We haven’t played since Waubonsie Valley 12 days ago, and we gave them off from Thursday to Thursday. We had just two practices and worked on team-building these last two days,” Hinsdale Central coach Tony Madonia said.
“Oswego East ... will always give us a game. We want to see where we’re at and to prepare for the rest of the season. Oswego East is a great team. It was probably a fun game to watch, even at 0-0.
“Obviously, we made an improvement from last season against them. Defensively, we were really, really tight, and it was hard to break us down. We’ve only allowed three goals. We played well defensively. That was a highlight.”
Hinsdale Central freshman keeper Katherine Skinner showed she belongs among the top underclassmen to watch in Chicagoland. She was unfazed by the rapidly changing weather conditions and the Wolves’ talented group of goal scorers. She recorded four stops, highlighted by a foot save early in the match.
“We knew Oswego East is a really good team. We focused on working as a team, because they have super-talented girls,” Skinner said. “Everyone has a role on the team; we have a lot of confidence.”
Hinsdale Central sophomore midfielder Avery Edgewater acknowledged the Red Devils’ big improvement from last season’s game against the Wolves.
“It felt good to at least tie them,” Edgewater said. “I think we’re finally coming together as a team. We are meshing well and have good chemistry, and our communication is really good. We know how each other plays, so we can work off each other.”
Sophomore midfielder Peyton Rohn, a second-year varsity player, said the Red Devils benefitted from two days of team bonding before Saturday’s game.
“This game was a lot different than last year,” Rohn said. “This year we stepped up our game and worked together and were strong and communicated a lot. We had a lot of possession and good opportunities and worked really well together.”
Hinsdale Central senior defender Ava Elliott said the backline worked well together to notch a shutout. The Wolves had a couple of opportunities in a 90-second span with under 10 minutes left in regulation, but the backline and Skinner stopped both threats.
“From the start, we knew that Oswego East was ranked pretty high, so that drove us to beat them,” Elliott said. “I think, as a whole, we worked really good today.
“We had some good shots. It felt good to get a shutout. We knew they have been scoring a lot of goals against other teams, so that was a good thing to not let them score against us. It was a good way to go out, even though it was a tie.
“We worked together from the middle to the back. We were defending really good today.”
Madonia is looking toward the upcoming week with anticipation.
“We definitely showed some positive signs,” he said. “The second half was a pretty dominating performance by us. The shot breakdown was a lot to a little. I’m looking forward to Wheaton Academy on Thursday.”
The Red Devils host the Warriors at 4:30 p.m.
Oswego East defender Veronica Hamilton said the shutout was a good consolation prize.
“We had a little bit of a disconnect in the back in the first half, but we kind of pulled it together,” Hamilton said. “We trust Sam and our center backs to clean up whatever we can’t get. We focus on our defense first. That’s our main priority.”
Emma Rosenthal said the Wolves capped a busy week with a strong showing.
“I’m little frustrated walking away, just because of the score,” Rosenthal said. “But I felt there were some good things, especially in the second half with our defensive communication. I’m hoping we can improve. This week we had a pretty good week with some good wins and worked through some stuff and get some kinks out that will help us be successful.”
GK: Sam McPhee
D: Emma Rosenthal
D: Sami Esquivel
D: Veronica Hamilton
D: Jocy Cruz
MF: Gabby McPhee
MF: Lana Bomstad
MF: Anya Gulbrandsen
MF: Morgan Hoffman
MF: Erika Smiley
F: Ana Morales
GK: Katherine Skinner
D: Julia Marinaccio
D: Katie Lynch
D: Adriana Giannini
D: Ava Elliott
MF: Peyton Rohn
MF: Avery Edgewater
MF: Claire Snodgrass
MF: Carter Knotts
F: Cate McDonnell
F: Olivia Healy
Chicagoland MVP of the Match: Sam McPhee, sr., GK, Oswego East