By Patrick Z. McGavin
CHICAGO — A peculiar and perhaps vivid new history emerged Wednesday night during the biggest game played between New Trier and city power Lane. The bright and radiant lights of the city illuminated and colored the action and created a fascinating backdrop.
New Trier was put in a strange moment while Lane tried to do something it had never done -- defeat the Trevians.
As the Champions strung together astonishing sequences, the possibility materialized and seemed very much in play.
However, New Trier’s Lida Dodge brought her own version of heat and energy.
And that was that.
“I didn’t take a lot of shots in the first half,” Dodge said. “When I see that moment, or those opportunities, I like to be able to take advantage.”
Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Dodge thwarted the Lane upset with a goal and game-winning assist during an extraordinary two-minute run as the Trevians, ranked fifth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, survived with a 3-2 victory in their final game of Group A play of the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic.
In the 56th minute, Dodge played a beautiful corner kick from the right that Sadie Grace Richardson smashed home on a header.
New Trier (10-0-1) advanced to play no. 3 Lyons (8-0-0) in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday in Northfield.
Lyons defeated No. 25 Loyola 3-0 Wednesday to capture Group C play.
No. 7 Evanston and 23rd-ranked Stevenson match up in the 5 p.m. opener of the semifinal doubleheader. Evanston cemented its title in Group B with a 1-0 victory over no. 11 Libertyville.
Stevenson edged 22-ranked Naperville North for the wild card slot. The Huskies beat St. Francis 7-0 to also finish 2-1-0 in group play, matching Stevenson points in victories and points.
However Stevenson, which lost to New Trier 1-0 Monday, advanced via the second tiebreaker, fewest goals allowed.
New Trier returns to the championship bracket after missing out last year.
“It’s great to be back, especially after we beat three good teams to get here,” Dodge said.
“That was a tough team we played today.”
Fittingly the game was played on Chicago’s North Side, 1.6 miles west of Wrigley Field. The city has been Lane’s domain, where the program has won seven-consecutive Public League Tournament championships.
Lane (3-4-1) always measures itself against the best suburban and private schools.
“I am very proud of how we played as a team,” forward Avery Ellis said. “I think this is the closest we have played New Trier. Even though it was not the result we wanted, I think it just proves that we can take a team like this on, and go further into the (post)season.”
The score was identical to last year’s group play game, though in that edition New Trier scored three quick goals and withstood a Lane push.
This scenario was different.
New Trier had the advantage of the strong northern wind to start the game. The Trevians took advantage, generating a corner kick in the first minute.
Off a beautiful touch-and-go, Dodge controlled a ball in the middle and played it to her right to a streaking Nora Westol.
The quick and fluid forward, who has shown an excellent scoring touch in the early going, timed her run perfectly and got behind the Lane defenders.
She smashed a ball home from 14 yards in the fifth minute for the early Trevians’ advantage.
“You probably hear us say it from the sidelines, but we like to yell out ‘Big Five!’ We always want to score at the beginning and end of every half,” Westol said.
“The past few games I have been looking for that ball and just haven’t been able to get on it. Lida just kind of knows where I am looking, and she can play me any ball.”
Westol fits a specific type -- smaller, athletic, explosive and quick to the ball. She balances the length and ability of bigger attackers like All-Stater Josie Noble, Lauren Caldwell and Dodge.
“It’s really great to have such a versatile and broad range of talent,” she said. “It’s just great to have all of these different ways of being able to score.”
Lane rose to the challenge of the quick deficit. Early goals are typically a shock to the system, a shredding of confidence. The Champions recovered and were dangerous for large portions of the first half, despite going into the heavy wind.
Fast and electric in space, Ellis showed off her speed and ability to get to the edge.
Fellow forward Alicia Ugaz also impressed, finding seams in the Trevians formation and finding dangerous spots to operate.
In the 19th minute, Carmen Grace had a shot bound off the far post, and Ellis saw her rebound shot elevate above the crossbar.
Midfielder Mary Rau, the cornerstone of the attack, also got wide right and blasted a ball that required New Trier keeper Caroline Hague to make a strong stop.
“You never know what the weather is going to be with soccer,” Ellis said. “It’s always something you have to take into consideration. “We could tell, during warmups, that the weather was going to be a factor. We planned for it, especially playing balls on the ground.”
Lane withstood the rest of New Trier's first half pressure. Keeper Cynthia Waller, who played minutes 1-40, made two nice stops of rocket free kicks from Dodge.
Waller had another dazzling stop after she came off her line in the 40th minute
All things being equal, Lane acquitted itself well to be down just the one score leading into the break.
After moving toward the north end, Lane dominated the first minutes of the second half.
The Champions forced an early turnover, and Rau caught the ball around midfield and found a streaking Ellis on the left wing.
The elusive Ellis made a sweet jitter-step to move left and fired from about 16 yards in the 41st minute to find the dazzling equalizer.
Momentum turn -- new match.
“I think it woke us up the way they scored so quickly at the start of the game,” Rau said. “So we came out of the second half, we were looking to just prove ourselves. Once we got the first goal from Avery, we gained the momentum.”
Newly charged and invigorated, Lane maintained the pressure.
The stunning and sharp play continued with another through-ball played down the right edge that the quick and gifted Ugaz controlled on the end line.
She made a liquid action past the defender and played the ball to Rau at the top of the box.
Moving in beautiful stride, Rau hammered the ball from 15 yards for a stunning goal in the 51st minute. Lane had the lead and the momentum.
But soccer is slippery and elusive.
“We got the second goal, and then we just lost it,” Rau said. “I think we got complacent, almost a little too comfortable with the fact that we had the lead. We stopped tracking in the middle, and we were leaving too many people open.”
Even with their opponent’s lull, New Trier was indeed in uncharted territory. It marked just the second time this year the Trevians had trailed in a game, going back 28 days to their 1-1 draw at Prospect in the second game of the season.
“I think we got caught in our transitions a little bit, but I think we ended up bouncing back,” Richardson said. “It was important that we respond and start to work together.”
The Lane lead was mercurial, almost as if it never existed. Just minutes later, Caldwell played the ball to Dodge on the left wing.
The Purdue recruit wheeled and fired a howitzer that eluded the reach of second half keeper Siena Belko in the 54th minute.
“I thought the important thing was not to get down, and just keep going and going,” Dodge said. “That was the first time in a long time we were down in a game. We didn’t get rattled. I saw my chance there.”
By scoring the goal and creating two assists, Dodge took home the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor.
That six-minute burst featuring the go-ahead goal by Lane and the New Trier equalizer and game-winner was prep soccer at the highest level.
Creating more pressure, New Trier forced a corner that Dodge took.
Richardson stepped up to the moment in the 56th minute.
“We work on corners a lot,” she said. “The service was perfect for the specific run that I was making, and everything just worked in our favor.
“I was just glad to get it down.”
Chasing a goal, Lane had a couple of decent opportunities in the aftermath of the New Trier push.
Ellis had a solid shot in the 60th minute.
In the end, Lane showed the ability to go toe-to-toe with one of the state’s best programs.
“Against a team like that, you can’t give them any space,” Lane coach Sean Harkness said.
“I was preaching that. Giving up a free header at the six off a corner is a recipe for disaster.
“I was really proud of the way we battled. They wanted to put on a performance that was indicative of how we can play against teams like this. They really wanted to come out and prove something.”
GK: Caroline Hague
D: Honor Dold
D: Annie Paden
D: Clara Deliduka
D: Kennedy Colegrove
MF: Sofia Palmer
MF: Lauren Caldwell
MF: Lida Dodge
F: Sybil Evans
F: Josie Noble
F: Nora Westol
GK: Cynthia Waller
D: Aislin Anstee
D: Olivia Schmit
D: Olive Tinucci
D: Alyssa LoVerde
MF: Kristi Sevova
MF: Jessica Carlson
MF: Mary Rau
MF: Grace Carmen
F: Avery Ellis
F: Alica Ugaz
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Lida Dodge, sr., MF, New Trier
New Trier—Nora Westol (Lida Dodge), fifth minute
Lane—Avery Ellis (Mary Rau), 41st minute
Lane—Rau (Alicia Ugaz), 51st minute
New Trier—Dodge (Lauren Caldwell), 54th minute
New Trier—Sadie-Grace Richardson (Dodge), 56th minute