By Steve Millar
LOCKPORT – South suburban soccer teams wish Wheaton North goalkeeper Zoey Bohmer would just stay home.
For the second-straight season, Bohmer – Wheaton North’s junior goalkeeper - was unquestionably the star of the Porter Cup, Lockport High School’s eight-team tournament.
Bohmer’s performance in this year’s event included three-straight shutouts. She capped it off in Thursday’s championship game with 12 saves, including a huge stop on a penalty kick, to lift the Falcons to a 1-0 upset win over Lincoln-Way East, which is ranked 15th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25.
“It’s thanks to my defense, honestly,” Bohmer said. “They made it a lot easier for me. Coming into this tournament knowing we won it last season, I had a little more confidence.”
Freshman forward Jane Rogers scored the lone goal off an assist from senior forward Macy Hutchinson for Wheaton North (6-3-1), which is an honorable mention team in the Top 25.
Bohmer, Chicagoland Soccer’s MVP of the Match, made seven saves in the first half as Lincoln-Way East (10-2-0) consistently peppered the goal.
The Griffins took fewer shots in the second half, as they tried to create quality over quantity. That resulted in some big moments for the keeper as Wheaton North clung to its one-goal edge.
First, with just under 25 minutes left to play, Lincoln-Way East’s Kara Waishwell struck the ball well on a high shot from 30 yards. Bohmer leaped to get a piece of the ball, knocking it off the top of the crossbar and away.
Two minutes later, the Griffins’ talented freshman midfielder Elizabeth Burfeind dribbled through a pair of defenders into the box and drew a foul.
Burfeind took the penalty kick and tried to slip a shot inside the left post. Bohmer dove to her right and stopped it.
“She made an amazing save on that shot,” Burfeind said. “I put it on frame, but unfortunately she read it right and was able to reach it. I’m going to have to go back and practice a couple more PKs.”
Rogers was blown away by the save and Bohmer’s entire performance.
“Zoey’s insane,” Rogers said. “She’s one of the biggest strengths of our team. How many goalies can save a PK in that stressful situation, up 1-0 in a championship game? That’s insane.
“We’re so grateful to have her on our team.”
Bohmer was able to think through the intense moment and came up with a plan.
“I saw her step up,” Bohmer said of Burfeind. “I looked at her eyes right away. I usually cheat to one side, and I knew she was probably going to go to the other side, because it looks more open. I just dove for it and got it.
“It feels good. Seeing everyone’s reaction to that gives us more confidence and more energy, which is what we needed to finish the game off.”
Indeed, the Falcons were able to take it home from there with opportunities limited for Lincoln-Way East the rest of the way. Bohmer made one final save on a soft volley from Burfeind with a minute left.
Wheaton North’s defense, led by Lauren Nguyen, Addison Falco, Kylee Gosling and Sophia Fadel made sure that while the Griffins got plenty of shots on goal, most of them were routine for a goalkeeper like Bohmer.
“Our defense did a phenomenal job these last two games,” Wheaton North coach Tim McEvilly said, also referencing Tuesday’s 1-0 semifinal win over no. 14 Lockport. “We defended intelligently, we didn’t give up dangerous shots, we kept people out wide.
“If you’re trying to score on Bohmer from 35 or 40 yards out, you’re not going to score on her consistently. The defense just has to be smart and defend from the inside out. They’ve really bought into the idea that we can win by defending first, because we counterattack as well as anybody else.”
The Falcons showed off the counterattacking punch to produce the only goal of the match.
Fittingly, it started after Bohmer made her toughest stop of the first half. Her kick save denied a close-in look from Burfeind, before the keeper turned away Burfeind’s follow-up, rebound shot.
After the second save, Hutchinson tracked the ball down near the top of the box and sent it the other way with a quick long pass to a streaking Rogers.
Wheaton North’s wunderkind got behind the defense near midfield for a breakaway, carried the ball at the goal and beat Lincoln-Way East goalkeeper Mattea Arroyo for the score in the 10th minute.
“I was just trying to get my body in front of the defender before I took my shot,” Rogers said. “Once I did that, I just had to slide it around the goalkeeper.”
Rogers had a ton of time to think about the shot after getting behind the defense, but never lost her cool. That impressed her caoch.
“There are not a lot of high school athletes, let alone freshmen, in the state of Illinois, that will get behind defenders and have as much ground to cover as she covered and maintain composure and just slot the ball home,” McEvilly said. “Often times, it just amounts to picking a corner and passing the ball in, but for a lot of people, the weight of that moment is too much.
“Jane is not bothered by the stress of the situation. She embraces it and looks for the challenges.”
Bohmer has quickly become accustomed to seeing Rogers finish her chances.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jane, and I know she’s going to put the ball in the back of the net,” Bohmer said. “She’s scored 12 goals already. Without the support from all our forwards and midfielders it wouldn’t be possible, but she’s a star.”
Lincoln-Way East, meanwhile, was left frustrated.
The Griffins held a 12-2 advantage in shots-on-goal, but that did not matter in the end.
In the 2022 Porter Cup championship game, Wheaton North beat Lincoln-Way East in a shootout after a scoreless 80 minutes during which the Griffins had a similar advantage in offensive chances but were thwarted by Bohmer.
Lincoln-Way East coach Mike Murphy was experiencing some déjà vu Thursday.
“I told the girls we played well,” Murphy said. “We possessed the ball really well, we put the ball in dangerous places. When you control the possession, control the shots, control the corners, you’re doing everything right.
“I told the girls that unfortunately soccer is a cruel game, and the best team doesn’t always win. That happened two years in a row now in this championship game.
“You have to give Wheaton North credit, though. They did the thing you need to do, which is put the ball in the back of the net.”
Waishwell said the Griffins could take some positives away despite the loss.
“I think we did a good job possessing, and we just really needed to finish our shots,” Waishwell said.
“Obviously, we didn’t do that, and we needed to capitalize on them more. But we did a good job working as a team and playing together.”
Wheaton North, is on a four-game winning streak.
“We’ve beaten three teams, (Chicagoland Soccer) has had ranked – Batavia, Lockport and Lincoln-Way East – in the last (eight) days,” McEvilly said. “It’s been a good week for us to grow into trying to figure out who we are and what we need to do to be successful.
“Our schedule’s going to continue to be rock-hard the rest of the year, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
GK: Mattea Arroyo
D: Thea Gerfen
D: Mia Hedrick
D: Emily Herlihy
D: Hannah Tokarski
MF: Kara Waishwell
MF: Brooklyn Mortell
MF: Elizabeth Burfeind
MF: Bre Herlihy
F: Cami Butler
F: Madison Dziedzic
GK: Zoey Bohmer
D: Lauren Nguyen
D: Addison Falco
D: Kylee Gosling
D: Sophia Fadel
MF: Annie Pyykkonen
MF: Calah Strong
MF: Talia Kaempf
MF: Piper Harborth
F: Jane Rogers
F: Macy Hutchinson
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Zoey Bohmer, jr. GK, Wheaton North
WHEATON NORTH – Rogers (Hutchinson), 10’