By Bobby Narang
GRAYSLAKE – Lane and Grayslake Central are both looking for the same thing on Monday – a win in the 5th annual Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic.
On the warmest day of the spring season Saturday, Lane and Grayslake Central both experienced the stinging chill of a loss.
Grayslake Central (2-5-1) dropped a 4-0 decision to Class 3A New Trier, then ranked seventh in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25.
Lane (2-3-1) fell to newly 23rd-ranked Stevenson.
Lane and Grayslake Central face off Monday at 7 p.m. in second-round Group A play in Grayslake.
Both teams had personnel issues in the opening round.
Grayslake Central is playing without goalie Ella Tews, who is currently in concussion protocol, according to coach Keith Andersson. Tew suffered the injury in the Rams 3-2 cross-town win over the Grayslake North on Thursday. Defender Katie Dinsmore put on the gloves against New Trier.
“Despite the result, I know if Ella had been in goal, it would’ve been a different score,” Andersson said. “I don’t want to take anything away from New Trier. They are a very physical, fast and technically sound team. They move the ball very well. We just don’t have a backup goalie.
“Katie is an amazing captain and stood up and took charge between the pipes, but it’s not easy for a field player to step in and be able to perform and win the goal. She has done an amazing job.
“We need to do better and not give them an opportunity to score. The girls are showing why we can compete with the likes of New Trier and the other big schools. For the girls to compete with them makes me very proud to be their coach.”
Meanwhile, Lane (2-3-1) had an uphill battled from the start of its 2-0 defeat to Stevenson on Saturday. The Patriots (4-2-0) picked up a goal from Ellie Egeland in each half, while goalie Mandy Meliker had seven saves.
“Saturday’s game was pretty tough since we were missing about half of our starters and eight girls in total,” Lane coach Sean Harkness said.
“But I learned a lot about the character of my team. They were incredible in the face of a lot of adversity and battled throughout the game. The girls who had not played much so far this season stepped up and played the entire game. I’m really proud of them.”
Andersson hopes playing on friendly home turf will spark his team, even without Tews in the net. The Rams saw their two-win streak against Vernon Hills and Grayslake North snapped by the undefeated Trevians (8-0-1).
“The Vernon Hills game the girls played extremely well and they moved the ball very clean and created great goal-scoring opportunities,” Andersson said. “We also had Ella Tews who makes everyone at ease. The Grayslake North game was the Sara Armstrong show. She has grown so much as a player in the last year.
“She is so much stronger this year and it shows in her work-rate. Her pace, her crossing and shooting power are unstoppable. Against Grayslake North, the girls played the second half with high pressure and speed, and it helped change the dynamic of the game.”
Andersson also noted the play of sophomore midfielder Dahlia Rodriguez, sophomore defender Madison Hoffman and junior midfielder Ava Ramsey.
"Dahlia’s technical ability is off the charts. Ava's control has made the difference in a lot of games," Andersson said. "Madison’s strength on defense has made a big difference in a lot of games.”
Andersson said the key to Monday’s game is to “come out strong.”
“When I look at Lane, which is my father’s old high school, they look just like New Trier – a big school,” Andersson said. “We need to come out with our foot on the gas.”
Harkness said Lane is looking to return to the form they showed in a 2-0 win over Young and a 9-0 triumph against Von Steuben before Saturday’s defeat.
“Our biggest key in those wins was that we continued to remain committed to playing on the front foot and being assertive in the final third,” he said.
Harkness praised sophomore midfielder Jessica Carlson, senior midfielder Mary Rau, junior midfielder Kristiana Sevova and sophomore midfielder Grace Carman for playing with purpose in the first three weeks of the season.
“Grace is one of our most talented players and is growing into an unbelievable attacker,” he said. “She is so creative and plays well beyond her young years. Jessica is also playing beyond her age and routinely plays 80 minutes.
“Mary is our glue. She connects the defense to our offense and is our most creative player in the final third. She can also control the game mentally. She’s truly brilliant and sees the entire picture better than most.
“Kristiana is a high-quality player with incredible intelligence and technique. Her skill with the ball and striking the ball makes her incredibly dangerous.”
Like Andersson indicated for his team, Harkness said Monday’s key is a fast start.
“I want us to impose ourselves on the game from the outset and dictate the game to the opponent,” he said.