By Mike Garofola
GURNEE -- It is said that you make your own luck. That can be true both in life and in sport.
On the soccer pitch Tuesday night, Warren sophomore Addison Stanciak used a combination of skill, tenacity, desire and great pace to drive the Blue Devils past visiting Carmel 2-1.
The luck part came on her play that created the own-goal that turned out to be the game-winner in the 40th minute of Warren's home-opener.
"We had a lot going for us tonight," said Stanciak, who shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor with teammate Maya Martinek.
"We were all excited it was our home-opener, and we had not played Carmel in the last 2-3 years. We really struggled in our last game with Glenbrook South that we lost (5-2 on the road April 3). We came out with ready to play with a lot of energy."
Stanciak and Martinek were the only freshmen on the 2022 Blue Devils club that put five players in collegiate soccer.
"We lost so many really great players from last year, which has made us really young this year" said Martinek. "We lost Emma (Paraskos) for the year with a torn ACL and have a few other injuries. So it's kind of work in progress for our team right now."
The sophomore played the six wonderfully, as she and her teammates constantly kept an eye on Carmel's dynamic duo. Returning Chicagoland Soccer All-Staters Emily Fix and Anna Hartman are easily one of the most dangerous duos in the state.
"We knew both Fix and Hartman would be players we would really have to watch tonight," Stanciak said. "But I really feel like we all stepped up when we needed to -- especially with us going back to playing a 4-3-3."
The Blue Devils had deployed a three-man backline of late due to injuries, particularly Paraskos.
"Losing Emma was a big blow to us," said Blue Devils manager Ryan McCabe. "She is a great player who we ran everything through, plus she is such a great leader out there.
"We've asked players to step into different spots and to do other things. Tonight, for example, Kate Mondejar, a freshman, and sophomores Maya and Sophia Ogren came through nicely. We received some real solid work off the bench from Grace Rios, Lorelli Barajas and Alina May."
The coach also welcomed back defender Mia Gloria, who returned from the injured list to give her club 30-plus minutes.
"I don't think Mia was expected to give us more than 10-15 minutes in her first time back in awhile, but it was so great to have her (back) and doing great things on defense," said Stanciak.
Carmel (5-2-1), which is ranked 19th in the Chicacoland Soccer Top 25, missed a handful of glorious chances on this wonderful weather night at the Blue Devils' O'Plaine Campus.
"We could have used a bit of luck tonight, that's for sure," lamented Corsairs manager Stephanie Kile, who watched her club misfire from in-close one day after knocking in nine in an East Suburban Catholic Conference shutout win over Marian the day before.
"(It's) the way soccer goes sometimes. I really thought in the first half we had a lot of the play and chances. Credit Warren, they are a real solid team who play hard."
The Corsairs made it clear they would target both Fix and Hartman whenever and wherever possible. With Norah Belmonte, Ema Delgado and Madison Konen providing help from the middle of the park, plus an early ball here and there from out of the back from Jillian Miller, the Corsairs were able to present a number of opportunities in the first half.
"I thought we played a very good first half and created chances that we came close to finishing but were unable to," began Konen, who wears the captain's armband along with Fix and Hartman.
"We were not as sharp in the second half. One of the things we'll need to get better at (is) to come out and play 80-hard minutes of soccer, which I know as we continue to train and play games against tough opponents like Warren we will do."
Hartman had a close-range attempt blocked in the 10th minute. At the other end, Stanciak fired over the bar after taking the ball into possession and creating space with a nice touch to get away from a pair of challengers.
Then Stanciak made herself Warren's key figure in the win.
The sophomore was sent through with a brilliant ball from Reese Mertens, who made her course on goal an easy one. It finished with a clinical finish past keeper Abby Tekampe, who had no chance in the 1-v-1 situation.
The visitors were not deterred after conceding the Blue Devils 14th-minute goal. During the next quarter hour Carmel put plenty of pressure on the home side until drawing level in the 29th minute.
Hartman went over the bar in the 20th minute from in close. Next, she flicked a long throw from Peyton Carney up and over her defender before smashing a left-footed effort that forced keeper Emma Megerle to make a save.
The pressure continued when Delgado released Fix near the top of the box, but an aggressive challenge off the from Megerle ended another potential scoring opportunity.
Belmonte was instrumental in the game-tying sequence. She burst free to get to the far endline before sending an inch-perfect cross to the back post, where an unmarked Konen steered in the goal with a marvelous one-touch that brought the Corsairs bench to life.
"We created some real quality chances in that first half," said Kile. "We also could have been a little quicker in our passing, the movement of the ball and (not) had as many square passes which allowed Warren to intercept or clear.
"That was a great combination from Norah (Belmonte) and Madison (Konen) to get back even with them. But that (own-)goal right before the half was something we did not want to do."
After a well-designed counter from Miller through Fix to Hartman, who ended just over the bar in the 38th minute, up stepped Stanciak, who did all the work on the Blue Devils game-winner.
The sophomore tackled the ball away near the Warren bench, then charged up the right side with an extra gear that allowed her to get to the endline.
Once there, she drove a missile on the ground into the box where it redirected off a Corsairs player into the back of the net.
"On that play, all I was trying to do was to get the ball into the box and make something happen since time was running out in the half," said Stanciak.
Carmel was left to pick up the pieces after what turned out to be the backbreaker.
"I won't say that was a lucky goal. That would not be fair to their player who really hustled on that play to win the ball and then get it into our box," said Kile. "But we sure could have used that same type of luck on a couple of chances from in-close."
After a slow start to the second period, the Corsairs attack got on its collective front foot and putting a handful of shots on frame: an unmarked Belmonte went over and wide; and Konen was unable to bag the equalizer into an open net after Hartman put her the position to strike.
Warren was up against it for a while.
"We were getting a little tired midway through the second half," said Martinek. "A couple of our players had to come off with an injury, but we held it together, especially in the last 10 minutes with help off the bench and some real good team defense."
Against the run of play, the Blue Devils came close to doubling their advantage. Mertens flew up the right side and played quickly to May. She provided a quality ball to the back post to Rios that nearly ended into the back of the Corsairs net.
A couple of last gasp efforts by Hartman and then Fix were saved easily by Megerle, who could later thank her backline for its gritty work down the stretch that secured the victory.
"I was very pleased with our ability to play with four in the back tonight," said McCabe. "We had several girls rotated through central and wide spots to keep us fresh and ready for a quality team such as Carmel.
"(Maya) at the six was able to slow their counters with terrific efficiency. Addison was creative and willing to get herself deeper, and she worked her way into the role that we asked her to fill as the game went on.
"I really liked how we competed tonight. We obviously have a ways to go in learning on how to play as a cohesive unit, but I was very proud of all of the players tonight."
Warren (2-2-1) is back in nonconference action Wednesday night (April 12) at Glenbrook North.
Carmel will continue to battle against strong foes. The Corsairs meet Hinsdale Central in an intriguing opening match in the Body Armor event at 3:45 p.m. Saturday at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.
"(Coach) Steph has really improved our schedule this year," said Konen. "So we're going to have tougher games against better opponents, which at the end, is really going to help us be a more organized, and stronger team when the games really count."
"We obviously never want to lose, but I really felt that we all learned a lot tonight, and that's what it is all about right now."
G- Abby Tekampe
D- Peyton Carney
D- Jillian Miller
D- Mila Schachelmayer
D- Maddie Nikolai
M- Bella D'Amore
M- Norah Belmonte
M- Ema Delgado
F- Anna Hartman
F- Emily Fix
F- Madison Konen
G- Emma Megerle
D- Ava Denapoli
D- Paige Hogberg
D- Kaitlyn McCaughey
D- Anjelica Amezquita
M- Maya Martinek
M- Kate Mondejar
M- Sophia Ogren
F- Reese Mertens
F- Arly Melchor
F- Addison Stanciak
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Maya Martinek, so., MF, Warren; Addison Stanciak, so., F, Warren
Referee: Alex Mavrothalasitis
W: Stanciak (Mertens), 14'
C: Konen (Belmonte), 29'
W: Own-Goal (Stanciak), 40'