By Bobby Narang
GRAYSLAKE – Time was not on Lane’s side Monday.
The commute from near Wrigley Field, where Lane’s vast campus is located, to the far northeast corner of the state is rarely an easy drive.
Monday was no exception, despite Lane’s game at Grayslake Central scheduled for 7 p.m.. It still prompted an early departure to avoid even longer traffic times.
“It was a very long bus ride to get here,” Lane junior midfielder Kristi Sevova said, laughing and smiling. “We even got here 50 with minutes to spare.”
After posting a 3-0 victory over the Rams in the second round of Group A play in the 5th annual Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic, Lane experienced an unexpected wait. They were among a long line of cars and buses stuck at a railroad crossing due to a freight train, which caused many cars to reverse direction after a 15-plus-minute standstill.
In between the two long commutes, Lane (3-3-1) pieced together a memorable run on the pitch.
Lane coach Sean Harkness said his team needed a confidence boost following Saturday’s defeat to Stevenson.
“I was really proud of them for fixing some issues we had in past games, where we felt like we dominated possession and didn’t put the game away early,” Harkness said. “We knew we could kind of exploit their high defensive line, because we’re fast. We were able to turn that into goals. Earlier in the season, it kind of bit us in a game where we didn’t turn our possession and control into opportunities.
“Grace Carmen has been coming on strong and Kristi as well. Jessica Carlson and Grace have a link together that’s unbelievable. Our center backs, Olive Tinucci and Olivia Schmit, have been communicating really well and give us a great foundation to play off of."
Harkness said the entire team contributed to the victory. That effort will be required again Wednesday when Lane Lane hosts New Trier, which is listed at no. 5 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, at 5:30 p.m.
“It’s our alumni night," Harkness said. "We’re looking to get a result. This group is playing with a lot of confidence now. I think they are ready to show we can play with and beat really elite teams.”
Grayslake Central played its second-straight game without goalie Ella Tews, who remained in concussion protocol. The Rams (2-6-1) have played a tough schedule full of Class 3A teams, and it got even rougher without Tews. Katie Dinsmore has played in the net in the last two games.
The usual defender showed she’s an improving keeper. Throughout the 80-minute match, Dinsmore’s confidence grew with each save. She finished with 12 stops and impressed the large crowd with several eye-pleasing stops.
“Without Ella, it’s a big loss because she’s someone you can count on, but that doesn’t take anything away from Katie,” Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson said.
“When you lose as someone as good as she is on the field, you can see it, and it hurts. Everyone is stepping up. Katie made some great point-blank saves, and is getting better and better.
“It’s been a rough go, but we’re playing some very big schools. It’s a big difference, just because you have a bigger talent pool to choose from.
"I give our girls a lot of credit. They’ve been in every game, but our forgetting the little fundamental things, like closing quicker, being more physical and looking to pass when you get the ball, not dribble (has hurt).
"Lane has a lot of speed. I had to make a bunch of adjustments. We didn’t give up. We just try and get one percent better every day.
“We play Stevenson on Wednesday. We’re looking forward to that game and to see how that goes. We want to win our conference and go far in the postseason. Our record doesn’t indicate the type of team we are. This gives us something to motivate us. We will see how we do.”
Lane’s offensive attack came out with some fire to quickly erase the memories of the Stevenson loss. However, it took them some time to find the back of the net.
Lane goalie Cynthia Waller had a rather boring first half, but did keep the game scoreless with a diving save to her left in the 24th minute.
Soon after, Lane’s offense perked up.
Maybe the long bus ride to Grayslake or the unusual warm weather caused it, but Lane’s Grace Carmen let out a big smile after the game when she forgot that she scored the first goal of the game. It was that kind of night for Lane, all fun and smiles after a hard-fought victory to lessen the sting of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Stevenson.
On her goal, Carmen beat her defender in a 1-v-1 situation, took advantage of Dinsmore coming out of the box, made a slight move to her right and scored into the empty net with 12:54 left until halftime.
“It was a through-ball, and I just touched it in right past the goalie,” Carmen said. “It was a nice pass from (Eleanor) Nagle. Everyone played really well, and we connected and shut them out. Our wingers and forwards are pretty quick, so we’re tough to defend. We’re happy to get a win in the tournament.”
Sevova notched the second goal, building off the energy and momentum from Carmen’s tally. Lane had just missed on two close attempts, but Sevova took advantage of a free kick from Carmen that landed right in front of her. She soft-tapped in a shot from 10 yards inside the far post for a 2-0 lead with 2:26 remaining in the half.
“It was a great through-ball by Grace and went right over Mary Rau’s head,” Sevova said. “I was surprised it went over everybody’s head and came right to my feet. It was an easy tap-in.
Sevova said the shutout win was a good start to the week after Lane played short Saturday.
“It was good to get the team rolling again,” she said. “We were missing a lot of teammates due to spring break. We brought it back today. We’re ready for New Trier.
“We have super potential. We have so many young players on this team who are super influential and are working hard every day, and you can see it on the field too.”
Besides nearly scoring a goal off a corner kick in the 72nd minute, Grayslake Central rarely threatened in the second half.
Rams midfielder Sara Armstrong said Lane’s speed and talent were too tough to stop Monday, but should prepare her team for play in the Northern Lake County Conference.
“They were one of the fastest teams we’ve faced,” Armstrong said. “They deserve to win. They were a really good team. Playing these bigger schools introduces us to a whole new game of ball, to show us how to play our passes.
"When we go back to play in our conference, which is much smaller schools, it shows us we can move it around quicker and sets us up for a much better position in our conference. I think it’s such a good idea to play these much bigger schools, because it makes us better.”
Grayslake Central junior midfielder Ava Ramsey agreed.
“I think it will payoff, but we have to communicate and work together,” Elliott said. “I’ve seen growth from the beginning of the season to now, but it all depends on if we want it or not. We have to work together as a team and grow. For myself, I’ve set high standards to help me during games.”
Grayslake Central (2-6-1) will play at no. 23 Stevenson on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. in the Rams last game of group play.
Lane put the game out of reach on Avery Ellis’ goal in the 43rd minute. Ellis relied on her speed to get an opening and smacked the ball into the far post for a 3-0 advantage.
Champions senior defender Olivia Schmit pointed out the backline played together to hold Grayslake Central in check. The Rams attempted just three shots on goal.
“We really connected well together. It was nice to see we got some goals in a competitive game, because we had been struggling in the attacking third,” Schmit said.
The second-year varsity player, who is a team captain, said she likes her new role as a leader.
“Last year we had some very talented seniors, and I learned a lot from them in a leadership perspective,” Schmit said. “This year I’m embracing that role. It’s nice to be the oldest one on the team and all the potential this program has.”
GK: Cynthia Waller
D: Olivia Schmit
D: Aislin Anstee
D: Alyssa LoVerde
D: Olive Tinucci
MF: Kristi Sevova
MF: Jessica Carlson
MF: Grace Carmen
MF: Avery Ellis
F: Sofia Avila
F: Mary Rau
GK: Katie Dinsmore
D: Jordan Sutter
D: Hayli Pruitt
D: Madison Hoffman
D: Avalyn Woods
MF: Sara Armstrong
MF: Ava Henne
MF: Mallory Barrows
MF: Ava Ramsey
MF: Dahlia Rodriguez
F: Mari Williams
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Grace Carmen, so., MF, Lane
Lane: Carmen (Nagle), 28’
Lane: Sevova (Carmen), 38’
Lane: Ellis (unassisted), 43’