NORTHFIELD -- New Trier treated its faithful to a glorious 80 minutes of soccer in mild temperatures under blue skies Saturday afternoon at Robert Naughton Field.
The host Trevians (8-0-1), who are ranked seventh in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, bagged a pair of goals on both sides of the half en route to an impressive 4-0 victory in their pool play opener against visiting Grayslake Central in the 5th annual Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Classic.
The visitors, who entered the match off an exciting 3-2 win over cross-town rival Grayslake North on Thursday evening, started well against their Class 3A opponents. The Rams (2-5-1) stayed the course for a majority of the first half until the overall strength, depth and play in the middle from the home side proved too much to overcome.
"We did have a very good first half of play and were without our regular keeper," said Rams manager Keith Andersson, whose club will face Lane at home on Monday as tourney play continues. “When nobody volunteered to step in for (the injured) Ella Tews, captain Katie Dinsmore did and did about the best job anyone could have done against a big, strong opponent like New Trier.”
The Trevians got on the scoreboard in the 16th minute.
"I thought we were a little frantic at the start of this game,” said Honor Dold, who did a wonderful job as the Trevians outside right back. The sophomore showed a keen sixth sense when to inspire in the attack while providing first-rate defensive play.
“We were not communicating very well or connecting passes through our midfield,” Dold continued. “But that first goal by Josie (Noble) kind of brought up back to life.
"As a freshmen last season, it was more about learning my role as a player on the varsity. But this year I feel a lot more comfortable and confident in what is expected at this level.”
Dold demonstrated her assimilation into the varsity game with the assist on Noble’s second goal just before the intermission.
Grayslake Central’s young duo of sophomore Dahlia Rodriguez and freshman Ava Henne teamed with junior captains Sara Armstrong and Ava Ramsey to help the visitors enjoy plenty of the play during the first quarter hour. Each took turns winning balls, tackling and disrupting the action.
"We moved Dahlia back to center mid, and she helped control the speed of the game," began Andersson.
"She is a very skilled, and talented young player. She has great touch and vision, and there are not very many players in our area that possess her foot skills."
The sophomore liked her team’s early play.
"I thought we had a lot of energy and focus coming off our win over Grayslake North the other day,” Rodriguez said. “It showed with us coming out today and really playing well at the start of the game.
"Their first goal slowed us down a little, but I thought we came back from that pretty well. Their goal right before the half took a lot out of us I thought."
While the visitors did well from the midline forward for the better part of 20 minutes, it was the play of center back Madison Hoffman that insured the Rams stayed in the game thanks to her watertight play.
The sophomore, whose season began as a forward and moved to the 10 or six, was switched to the center of the Rams backline where her strength, size, soccer IQ and awareness has made her an invaluable piece to a roster that has just three seniors.
"(Her) ability to clear the ball on nearly every 50/50 ball is amazing, plus her communication skill allows us to clean up any mistakes. She’s just a real force to be reckoned with," said Andersson.
Hoffman more than did her part early. In the first 20 minutes of action, she won 13 challenges either in the tackle or in the air.
"With Ella (Tews) out with an injury, we all had to step up to help make things a little easier for Katie in goal today," Hoffman said. "I think as a unit, we did a good job against a team that is big, strong and has a lot of talent."
New Trier managed a couple of half-chances before the Noble opener. The first opportunity came off the foot of Sybil Evans. The next came from Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Lida Dodge courtesy of a nice helper from Evans, who shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor with Grayslake Central’s Hoffman.
"I thought coming off a real strong effort the other day in our win over Highland Park, it would carry over into this game,” said Evans. “But it didn't, and it took us a while to get back to playing the way we should and know that we can."
The junior was responsible for the Noble goal at 16 minutes when she burst up the left side and beat two challengers in the process. Next came a lovely ball into the box that the visitors struggled to clear.
An opportunistic Noble was left alone to head past Dinsmore who had no chance on the close-range effort.
The pace and work-rate of Evans in the final third was the key to the Trevians attack whenever going forward throughout the afternoon. Noble, Dodge and Sofia Palmer, who spent some time in front of the Trevians backline, also were noticeable in their efforts.
"With (junior forward/midfielder) Charlotte (Dellin) out today due to an illness, we had to count on others to pick up the slack in our attack," said Trevians manager Jim Burnside. “Sybil did just a great job all day long, whether we had her up-top or in the middle. She did so many good things, with and without the ball, to help get us going.”
Just after the Noble opener, Grayslake Central worked at a response. Some nice combination work from Rodriguez and Armstrong called Trevians keeper Caroline Hague into action. The sophomore didn’t hesitate to come off her line to collect the ball near the spot before Mari Williams could get to it.
Williams provided a much-needed spark of the bench after Andersson brought the senior on in the 19th minute. Her strong and purposeful runs, and desire to be near the ball were witnessed in a quality chance in the 28th minute when she ran onto a looping ball sent in by Avalyn Woods.
New Trier doubled its advantage in the 37th minute when a long free kick from near the midline by Dold rattled the bar and spilled free to an unmarked Noble, who made the Rams pay for their marking error.
"We made some mistakes today and great teams like New Trier take advantage,” Hoffman said. “We'll learn from today's game. Our improvement each time out is something that I've seen and like about this team.”
The Rams found themselves chasing three goals just two minutes after the break when a Dodge snap-shot from 30 yards flew just under the bar and nestled into the back of the net.
New Trier’s third goal signaled 20 minutes of dominance and bristling, attacking exuberance led by Dodge and Evans. It featured a high passing-completion rate which gave nearly 90 percent of the possession to the home side. The ball moved quickly and sharply between players.
“We played through our midfielders like I know we're capable of,” said Burnside.
Added Evans: "I think we were all happy with the way we played in the second half -- so much better than the first. (Plus) we got everyone on our bench minutes as well."
Grayslake Central found some opportunities to impact the game. Hoffman blocked a pair of shots in-close. On the other side of the park, Wiliams headed wide a nicely played ball from Rodriguez.
A short, clearing effort from the visitors led to a nice second-ball win by Evans. She gave Dodge the chance to steer in her second of the half with a sublime finish into the lower left corner in the 58th minute.
New Trier keeper Sela Klein, who shared the clean-sheet with Hague, saved an Armstrong attempt three minutes from time, then followed a Rodriguez tee-up from 25 yards as it blasted through the football uprights.
"We were not ready for the physical play that New Trier brought here today,” said Andersson. “Now our girls know to player harder and faster next time out.
"We have a very young team. With each game and training session they are beginning to figure out how we want them and need them to play. It is exciting to see them improve with each day."
New Trier was pleased to advance to the second day of its tournament with a win,
"It was nice to see the team play a strong second half after our slow start today,” Burnside said. “It was good to see a lot of quality in that second half, especially from our midfielders, and to be able to get time for our reserves.”
Visiting Stevenson is next up for the Trevians at 7 p.m. Monday.
Grayslake Central (4-5-1)
G- Katie Dinsmore
D- Jordan Sutter
D- Hayli Pruitt
D- Madison Hoffman
D- Avalyn Woods
M- Kate Kruse
M- Ava Ramsey
M- Dahlia Rodriguez
M- Sara Armstrong
M- Ava Henne
F- Mallory Burrows
New Trier (4-3-3)
G- Caroline Hague
D- Kennedy Colegrove
D- Annie Paden
D- Clara Deliduka
D- Honor Dold
M- Sofia Palmer
M- Josie Noble
M- Lauren Caldwell
F- Sybil Evans
F- Lida Dodge
F- Nora Westol
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match:
Sybil Evans, jr., MF/F, New Trier;
Madison Hoffman, so., D, Grayslake Central
Referee: Romil Benjamin
New Trier: Noble (U/A) 16'
New Trier: Noble (Dold) 37'
New Trier: Dodge (Evans) 42'
New Trier: Dodge (Evans) 58'