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Win vs. South Elgin worth the wait for Glenbard West

By Bobby Narang, 04/09/23, 10:45AM CDT


Hilltoppers score twice after break for 2-0 win

GLEN ELLYN – Late arrivals were a theme on Thursday afternoon at Memorial Field on the campus of Glenbard West.

South Elgin got in late for their nonconference match against Glenbard West.

“We got stuck behind three freight trains and had 10 minutes to warm up,” South Elgin coach Jerzy Skowron said.

The game started 15 minutes late, which allowed a large group of spectators the chance to express relief at not missing any action, and settle into their seats.

The Hilltoppers controlled possession for most of the first half and forced South Elgin senior goalie Karissa Cruz to spend most of the first 40 minutes at the ready. Cruz, who did not play in the second half, compiled five saves in her shift.

Eventually, the Hilltoppers broke the ice with two goals in a three-plus minute swing just a few minutes into the second half to post a 2-0 victory. 

Freshman midfielder Hana Allen continued a stellar start to her varsity career, lifting a high-arching shot from distance for the game-winner in the 47th minute.

Allen, who scored a team-high two goals in Tuesday's league-opening 9-0 win over Proviso West on Tuesday (April 4), continued her hot streak with another highlight-reel goal Thursday.

“Sophia (Brown) was in the corner, and I had some space. She dropped it off, and I just took a shot,” Allen said of her third goal of the season. “It was good, because the team had a lot of build-up, and we couldn’t finish. It was nice to finish a few (shots). 

“I think we have a lot of momentum and have to keep moving and building off each other. In the second half, we were building more, and it showed when we got the momentum.

“I think we were communicating with each other, recycling runs and keeping moving instead of staying static. That really helped us.”

Senior forward Gwen Johnson capped the short, scoring burst. She set herself up by stopping on a dime and knocking in a shot from right to left for a 2-0 lead with 30:29 seconds left. 

Johnson said she was the beneficiary of excellent set-up work from Lauren Escalante for the Hilltoppers insurance tally and her second goal of the season.

“All the credit goes to Lauren for a well-placed pass,” Johnson said. “It was a beautiful pass just past a defender. All I had to do was finish in the back corner. We have good chemistry which we are building throughout the season, and it showed today. I’m grateful for that.

“It felt great to score. We struggled to score against Wheaton North (a 0-0 tie in the Wheaton North Kickoff Classic March 23), so finally getting two goals in there was a really good feeling. I think we’re going to have a pretty good year.”

The Hilltoppers sealed the shutout with strong play from their backline. Junior goalie and returning Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Ava Callaway had a rather easy day with only one stop. That occurred on a hard-hit shot from South Elgin junior forward Ella Dihel in the 62nd minute.

Glenbard West senior defender Kendell Meyer said the backline played as a unit. In the 80-minute match, the Hilltoppers were constantly helping each other out, playing with energy and communicating to avoid any down spells. The Storm (2-0-1) rarely advanced the ball on their half in the game.

“I thought we were really strong with our dynamic movements, and that was shown by how much we possessed the ball,” Meyer said. “I thought we did a really good covering for each other and helping each other to make up for mistakes. We did a good job controlling the game.

“I think the backline knows we have really good chemistry and communicated a lot. We helped each other recover and distributed the ball well. I think that was highlighted today.”

South Elgin senior defender Malle Dunne said the two goals by the Hilltoppers spoiled an otherwise strong game. The Storm utilized two goalies: regular starter Cruz in the first half; and backup freshman keeper Jersie Spiedel (two saves) in the final 40 minutes.

“We made two mistakes,” Dunne said. “Spiedel played well and kept her confidence. She kept coaching us in the back which was very helpful. She spoke up. We’re going to work on stepping and communication in practice.

“I definitely think they beat us in athleticism, but we have a lot of smart players and have patience on the ball. We can’t dive in, and we improved on that. We have to time our tackles. I was very happy with our game and think we can improve on that a lot.”

Spiedel showed her potential. She stayed strong throughout the final 40 minutes. On the first goal, Allen’s shot kept rising and caught Spiedel by surprise.

“They had some nice shots off me, but I felt pretty confident with my defenders,” Spiedel said. “I just misjudged the first goal. I definitely misjudged how high it was. I was just caught off-guard on the second goal, just was more on my heels. It was a good shot.

“The end of the game was a lot better. My teammates played really good. Toward the end, we got it together and played well.”

Glenbard West senior midfielder Clare Kostolansky, a captain, said the Hilltoppers did a good job shutting down the Storm, who had scored seven combined goals in their two-game winning streak that led up to Thursday’s match.

“The second half was the best half we’ve played all season,” she said. “It’s just getting started, so I’m optimistic.”

Glenbard West coach Adam Szyszko praised his players for earning a quality home victory.

“We saw South Elgin on film and were worried about their pace,” Szyszko said. “Their forward (Nevaeh Gyurko) is lightning. We were able to contain her. 

“We started shaky in the first 10-to-15 minutes, probably a 50/50 game but we then stepped in and asserted ourselves and kind of controlled play. They had a couple of decent looks, but we handled it well, and our goalie Ava Callaway and our defense was solid.

“We were able to manage it. Our goal is to keep getting better. I like who we are, and we are getting better. We have to keep going and keep the train rolling.”

Skowron said he wanted to test his players – all of his players – against a high-caliber opponent on the road. His charges didn’t wilt, responding with a solid first half despite limited offensive chances.

“We told them we were going to treat this as a test,” he said. “Everybody was going to get minutes. They knew the plan ahead of time. I told the starters I wanted a (halftime) shutout regardless of what happens. I thought our girls did amazingly well. They are learning fast and are very accountable for each other and watching film like crazy.

“It’s been a pleasure and treat watching them grow. Ellie (Vidic) is continuing to grow. We can put her up-top, in the middle or out wide. Lesley (Ulloa) is a monster in the back. She has the potential to be an all-state center back. 

“Cami (Stokes) plays with reckless abandon back there. Callie Miller is playing well for us. Her vision is really good. She is growing every single day. We’re using these games to get us a conference title and get us hopefully ready for a regional championship.”
Glenbard West (3-2-1, 1-0-0) exited the week on a four-match unbeaten streak after a 5-0 win vs. East Aurora on Saturday in the first round of pool play in the Plainfield Classic.

South Elgin (3-2-1, 2-0-1) got back on the winning track with a 3-1 nonconference home win over Jacobs on Saturday.

Starting lineups
South Elgin
GK: Karissa Cruz
D: Madelyn Baker
D: Malle Dunne
D: Cami Stokes
D: Lesly Ulloa
MF: Callie Miller
MF: Adeline Kinsella
MF: Janelle Defensor
MF: Elle Vidic
F: Ella Dihel
F: Nevaeh Gyurko
Glenbard West
GK: Ava Callaway
D: Kendell Meyer
D: Aubrey Sawyer
D: Ellie Beaudoin
D: Katie Burke
MF: Annie Mitchell
MF: Hana Allen
MF: Hannah Michalowski
MF: Clare Kostolansky
F: Gwen Johnson
F: Sophia Brown
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Hana Allen, fr., MF, Glenbard West

Scoring summary
First half
No scoring 

Second half
Glenbard West: Allen (unassisted), 47’
Glenbard West: Johnson (Escalante), 50’