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Wheaton Warrenville South can't solve Lincoln-Way Central

By Steve Millar, 04/16/23, 12:15PM CDT


Tigers muster only 1 shot in 2-0 loss

SCHAUMBURG – Wheaton-Warrenville South coach Guy Callipari watched his team fight hard throughout Saturday’s Body Armor first-round match against Lincoln-Way Central. 

In the end, Callipari felt his Tigers played into the Knights’ hands by letting them dictate the style of play with their physicality. 

“They do a really good job of finishing tackles, lining their bodies up,” Callipari said of the Knights. “They bounced us all over the park and really got us out of rhythm.  

“We were at our best when we one-two touch. When you play an aggressive team like that, you need to let the ball do the work. We just didn’t have the sight to see things early enough. Then we get lined up, we get dispossessed of the ball and then we’re trying to defend in transition.” 

That did not add up to a successful formula for the Tigers. Lincoln-Way Central, ranked eighth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, scored once in each half and held Wheaton-Warrenville South to just one shot on goal in a 2-0 victory at Olympic Park.  

As far as Lincoln-Way Central coach Sean Fahey was concerned, the performance from the Knights (9-0-2) was an encouraging sign that they are ready to play in big environments.  

Lincoln-Way Central went 25-2-0 last season on its way to a third place finish in Class 4A. The two losses were a 2-0 state semifinal defeat to eventual champion Metea Valley and a 2-0 loss to Warren in the opening round of the Body Armor last spring. 

Comparing Saturday’s performance to that loss to Warren, Fahey was thrilled. 

“If we rewind a year, we stepped out onto this field a little more uncertain of ourselves and maybe a little bit new to the moment,” Fahey said. “We had like 11 girls who were new to varsity soccer back then, and as well as we had been playing to that point, it was this pretty cool stage. We were on field one, just like (Saturday), where everyone walks past and everyone watches. 

“They knew college coaches were here and all that. We did not play a really good game against Warren, and Warren was a great team.  

“So, to come out a little more confident in ourselves (Saturday), and at least put that out there on the field was great for us to see. 

“I think when this team is firing on all cylinders, we’ve got a great mix. They work tirelessly and defend relentlessly, and we pounced on a couple opportunities. To see us be able to step onto the stage and perform like we did, I was really proud of that.” 

Senior defender Christine Erdman, in addition to helping the backline shut down the Tigers (2-4-1), also produced the standout play of the game. 

Erdman, the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match, made it 2-0 with a brilliant individual effort in the 51st minute. 

The Bowling Green recruit came up with a steal off a tackle near the sideline on the Knights’ offensive end, made a quick move past a pair of defenders and ripped a tough-angle shot from 25 yards that tucked inside the near post. 

“I’ve always been told to anticipate the ball,” Erdman said. “My mom always tells me, ‘Anticipate, anticipate.’ When those two defenders came out, I was like, ‘I’m going to try to get around them.’ They stopped, and I just kept going and scored.” 

Fahey was blown away.  

“That goal Erdman scored was so special,” Fahey said. “You don’t see that. You really don’t. I could coach another 40 years and not see another outside back do something like that to kind of ice it for us. That second goal let us breathe a little bit.” 

Callipari tipped his cap while also wishing his team played it a bit differently. 

“She broke us down and was courageous in the final moment,” Callipari said of Erdman. “I wish we would have made that decision a bit quicker instead of waiting until she had that angle to tackle.” 

It took a special play for the Knights to get the two-goal lead because of the fight put up by Wheaton-Warrenville South’s defense. Brooke Ittersagen, Ella Byrnes, Taylor Cooper and Camryn Fleming led that battle. 

With Lincoln-Way Central often winning balls in the middle of the field and quickly turning that into offensive pressure, the Tigers’ backline held up again and again.
“I think we improved defensively and we did a good job getting back behind the ball,” Fleming said. “I think we did a good job communicating. 

“Brooke did a good job talking to us in the back, and we all made sure everyone was covered. Now I think we just need to work on connecting with the ball a little more so we can work the ball down the field.” 

Callipari agreed that better passing is a big key for the Tigers, who are an honorable mention team in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25.  

“We just need to have more faith in each other,” he said. “We need to give the ball up and let it do the work and know you’re going to get it back. We need to move it around the park a little bit. We look good when we move the ball out of the back and move it inside and out a little bit going up the field.” 

Sophomore goalkeeper Marilyn Dixon made nine saves for the Tigers. She twice denied Alex Lehnert on good looks from 20 yards in the second half.  

Lehnert started the scoring for the Knights in the 15th minute, taking a pass from Madisyn Kenworthy, fighting off a defender and blasting a shot from 25 yards inside the left post.  

Lehnert, a senior forward, is a new addition for Lincoln-Way Central. The Indiana State recruit previously played club only. 

“It was a big lift,” Lehnert said of the goal. “It’s my first tournament with this team. We were confident going into the game, but I think getting the early goal gives us more confidence and gave us a chance to score more goals.” 

Wheaton-Warrenville South’s best chances to score came in the final 10 minutes.  

First, Fleming took a free kick from 45 yards and played a dangerous send into the box. Lincoln-Way Central goalkeeper Flynn Meyer was able to beat the Tigers to the ball and corral it. 

With five minutes left, Lauren Barnett put the only shot on goal for the Tigers, a low strike from 15 yards that Meyer got down to grab.  

Meyer and Sofia Jumes combined for the shutout in net for the Knights, getting plenty of help from Erdman, Brittney Veugeler, Abby Sudkamp and Chloe Grundhofer on the backline. 

Callipari knows there is more for the Tigers to do on the offensive end, but he’s seeing reasons for encouragement. 

“We’ll figure things out up-top,” Callipari said. “What we were really focused on is defensively what are we going to look like and who are we going to rely on? That’s starting to take shape and that allows us to play competitively with really good teams, and that’s all you can ask for.” 

Wheaton Warrenville South was certainly tested this week. Saturday’s game came four days after another 2-0 loss to a team that played at state in Class 4A last season – the team that won it all, in fact, in top-ranked Metea Valley. 

“The last two teams we’ve played had a combined record of (18-0-4),” Callipari said. “That sharpens you. That helps you have an understanding that we need to have a better speed of play and thought in order to play at that bar. That’s what you’re going to face at a regional final or a sectional. So these moments are critical in entertaining that idea of what it’s going to look like and feel like down the road.” 

Fleming believes the Tigers are good enough to succeed when those big postseason games come around. There are just small things to take care of first. 

“We all work really hard,” Fleming said. “We’re friends on and off the field, and I think that really helps us. 

“I think we need to improve our physicality. We have to work for it a little bit more and have some more determination.”

Starting lineups 

Lincoln-Way Central 
GK: Sofia Jumes 
D: Christine Erdman 
D: Brittney Veugeler 
D: Abby Sudkamp 
D: Chloe Grundhofer 
MF: Madisyn Kenworthy 
MF: Reagan Schultz 
MF: Emma Vogler 
MF: Lila Hadley 
F: Madi Watt 
F: Alex Lehnert 
Wheaton-Warrenville South 
GK: Marilyn Dixon 
D: Brooke Ittersagen 
D: Ella Byrnes 
D: Taylor Cooper 
D: Camryn Fleming 
MF: Lily Petrie 
MF: Kate Gronlund 
MF: Ashlyn Adams 
MF: Lauren Barnett 
MF: Carolyn Harvey 
F: Kate Hartnett 
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Christine Erdman, sr. D, Lincoln-Way Central 

Scoring summary 

First half 
LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL: Lehnert (Kenworthy), 10’ 

Second half 
LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL: Erdman (unassisted), 51’