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Electric Egeland powers Stevenson past Lane

By Mike Garofola, 04/10/23, 10:45AM CDT


Junior’s brace gives Patriots opening Malnati’s win over depleted Lane

NORTHFIELD -- Maryland-bound Ellie Egeland scored twice as Stevenson earned a comfortable 2-0 victory Saturday in its Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Classic opener over shorthanded Lane at sun-kissed Robert Naughton Field.

The reigning city champion Champions produced a valiant effort on the first warm day of the spring season -- despite missing five regulars from their first 11. On this day, that deficit was too much to ask to overcome too much Egeland and the depth of her Patriots (4-2-0), who will continue pool play against host and New Trier, which is ranked fifth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, at 7 p.m. Monday.

"We have a new manager, and our roster has so many new players," said Egeland, who is clearly an all-state candidate in her junior season. “But we're beginning to come together, and I know we'll only get better as the season goes on.”

"With spring break coming to an end, our roster took a big hit," said Sean Harkness, the Champions new manager. “We came into this match today with a short bench. I thought the girls fought hard, did well in the heat, and really gave 110 percent, which is all that we could really ask for.”

Added sophomore center back Olive Tinucci: "I thought we played well today, especially in the first half. We kind of ran out of gas midway through the second half, but still gave a great effort despite playing on the first warm day of our season." 

Tinucci, alongside teammate Olivia Schmit, formed a strong partnership in the center of the Lane backline.

Lane’s defensive third worked hard to keep the Champions in the hunt.

"We had to defend more in the second half, but Cynthia (Waller) did a great job all day in goal for us, did an amazing job to keep us in the game," added sophomore Jessica Carlson, one of four midfielders in Harkness' 4-4-2 formation.

"We did a lot of good things in the game, more of it coming in the first half when we were fresh and full of energy." 

It was clear during the early stages Stevenson would target Egeland, whose darting runs, constant movement and clever ways to set herself free made her a formidable presence, in and around the area for new coach Jay Bulev’s club.

"Ellie is so dangerous, with and without the ball, but she is also an unselfish player, which makes her so dangerous for us," said Bulev, who took charge of the Patriots program this spring for PepeJon Chavez.

Egeland put a trio of attempts on frame in the first 10 minutes: twice after Haylie Popkey put her through; and once after she initiated play on a deep throw with teammate Sami An and kept things alive just outside the box.

Carlson was an engine for Lane in the middle of the park, going box-to-box both when attacking or tracking back to help even out the numbers when the Stevenson offense was on the prowl.

"Jessica did a great job for us out there all day," said Harkness, who did a masterful job of keeping fresh legs out on the pitch as the afternoon sun did its best to wilt even the most fit players. “(She) gave us so much effort and energy out there, which we needed all day long.”

Lane’s attack showed life in the 20th minute when Luzmarie Razo was sent through by Grace Carman. The chance to have a go was stopped when Patriots keeper Mandy Meliker came off her line with an aggressive charge.

Stevenson responded and broke the scoring ice.

Egeland collected a lovely ball from Nicole Tchorz, who set her free up the left side. The junior unloaded an unstoppable 23rd-minute strike to score her third goal in two games.

"It's nice to score in back-to-back games, but you always need help to do that," said a humble Egeland.

Minutes later, with Stevenson struggling to manage pressure placed upon them from a now ball-winning and lively Champions group, the play of Carlson, Razo, and Riya Jain off the bench threatened to draw the Champions even.

"(Stevenson) had very good players we had to deal with,” said Harkness. “We managed to put together some good passes and connect here and there, but we just could not get anything of quality on their keeper compared to what they were able to do.”

"We had to be really resilient today, especially in the back and especially during the second half," added Tinucci.

Razo and Lane nearly got a break when Stevenson played a poor ball back to Meliker. After Lane’s sophomore gobbled up the free ball, the fearless keeper showed terrific awareness of the situation and came off her line to disrupt Razo long enough to dash the scoring hope.

Stevenson tried to double its advantage before the intermission. Lane prevented that with a solid tackle from Jain on a challenge from Leah Stodola at the top of the box. 

Stevenson saw an excellent one-two combination from Sarah Sagerman and Tchorz stretch Lane’s defense and allow freshman Chavez an opportunity just before the break.

But Lane’s Tinucci delivered a voracious tackle that likely saved a potential 1-v-1 against Waller.

"We were a little tired at the end of the first half, but I thought we came out fresh at the start of the second half," said Harkness. “Unfortunately, that early goal from no. 11 (Egeland) really put us on our heels for a while.”

Just five minutes into the second half, the match was all but settled when the effervescent An played a brilliant ball to the back post where the onrushing Egeland met it and easily steered in a one-timer to record her second double in as many games.

"Our second goal was set up because of our ability to connect 3-4-5 passes together," said Bulev. “We did a really good job of doing that in the second half. We’ll continue to look to do that on Monday when we play New Trier.”

Sensing the chance to add another goal or two into the scorebook, Stevenson’s attack pushed forward on its collective front foot and limited Lane to a pair of deep throws and free kicks from Schmit, which were defended well by the Patriots.

Egeland went wide twice and had a quality attempt saved by Waller near the hour. The Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match went over the bar moments later.

Waller received praise from Carlson, Tinucci and her manager after the game. She turned in a magnificent second half of play between the sticks.

If the sophomore wasn't using her long frame to pull down one well-aimed serve into the box after another, she impressed with her command of her area to keep Lane within striking distance.

"Cynthia used her height, length and great hands to mitigate potential trouble in our end," beamed Harkness.

Lane continued its attempts to get on the scoreboard. Carman's advance near the top of the box was slowed by both Alexa Karagrannis and Anabelle Egeland, who squeezed the air out of a possible attempt on frame.

As time drew closer, an effort directly on frame from Carlson was saved by Meliker.

"It was nice to finally get our first clean-sheet of the season, limit our mistakes, and to get everyone some time out there today," said a Bulev. “Lane played hard for 80 minutes despite having a short bench.”

Lane was pleased with its effort.

"Even in this loss, we did a lot of good things out there,” Carlson said. “We played the ball wide, defended really well as a team and … gave a great effort against a very good opponent."

Added Tinucci: "Waller and Jain, I thought, played very well today. I know we'll all be looking forward to being back at full strength for our next tournament game."

The Champions (2-3-1) will travel to Grayslake Central for round two of pool play at 7 p.m. Monday (April 10).

Starting lineups

LANE (4-4-2)
G- Cynthia Waller
D- Aislin Anstee
D- Olive Tinucci
D- Olivia Schmit
D- Quincy Tye
M- Alicia Ugaz
M- Grace Carman
M- Kristiyana Sevova
M- Jessica Carlson
F- Luzmarie Razo
F- Sofia Avila

STEVENSON (4-2-3-1)
G- Mandy Meliker
D- Bri Welter
D- Hailey Livesay
D- Anabelle Egeland
D- Alexa Karagrannis
M- Haylie Popkey
M- Arria Chavez
M- Sammie Meliker
M- Sami An
M- Ellie Egeland
F- Madi Kennedy

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Ellie Egeland, jr., MF, Stevenson

Referee: Oleg Podynov

Scoring summary

First half
Stevenson: Egeland (Tchorz) 23'

Second half
Stevenson: Egeland (An) 45'