SCHAUMBURG – Young picked a good day to get off to a fast start.
The Class 3A Dolphins were slotted into one of the 7:45 a.m. opening slots at the 2023 Body Armor Series at Olympic Park to meet Class AA Grayslake Central on Field 1.
Field 1 – the first field upon entrance into the vast soccer complex – is often picked for the marquee game during each time slot.
But Young hogged the spotlight from the opening whistle. The Dolphins scored six first half goals to cruise to a 7-0 victory.
After tough defeats to two Central Suburban League earlier in the week, the Dolphins (3-4-2) were happy to walk away with a shutout victory that included six different goal scorers but would’ve liked a better test.
Grayslake Central played a mostly junior varsity squad due to injuries, mainly from playing a tough slate of early season games against bigger schools, especially in the 5th annual Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic the previous week.
Moira Koleno scored back-to-back goals in the first half to lead Young. Ella Cutler, Cassie Schumacher, Celeste Garton, Evelyn Vaughn and Xi Le O’Neil all tallied once.
“It was good for our girls because we’ve had a tough week with Niles West and Maine South,” Young coach Ross LaBauex said. “This was good for confidence boost to get a few goals and see the ball in the back of the net. We’re hoping to hit our stride and get good results.”
The Dolphins used the second half to work out some kinks while playing keep-away.
“The girls had a good warmup before the game,” he said. “We tried to move the ball and work on the things we need to do to have more consistency over the season.
“We tried to move the ball quickly and work on the things that will give us sustained success. I thought it was a good team effort. Ella Cutler has been really good for us.
“We’ve had some freshmen also playing good minutes for us. It’s a good group; they are fiery and something we can build on.
“We’re going to keep moving forward," said Young sophomore forward Kathryn Greenbaum. She added Saturday’s victory was the ideal tonic for the team. The Dolphins were smiling throughout the second half. “We have a lot of potential and can go as far in the city and finally found our mojo. We’re finally playing well.”
Sophomore defender Ainsley Christensen said the team played with energy from the outset to take command of the game. It was a welcome performance for a team still trying to find itself due to heavy graduation losses.
“We came in and treated this like a conference game and wanted to win,” she said. “It was a nice shutout for the team. It always feels good to not have any goals scored on you and that you are confident with your skills.
“I think we’ve had a rough season starting, but we’re slowly gaining our confidence. We did lose 14 seniors, so we had a rough adjustment. We’re starting to mold together and move the ball really well. Looking at our last few games, we’ve played well.”
Junior midfielder Lauren Roche said it was a solid victory for the Dolphins.
“It’s important that we come out strong and beat teams, because sometimes we play down to other team’s level,” Roche said. “It’s important we keep moving the ball and score goals. It was a fun game and a beautiful day. We’re still figuring things out. We have to keep going on this trajectory we’re on.
“It’s a different team. I’ve learned a lot this year. I’m really happy with the team.”
Cutler tallied the first goal of the game and assisted O’Neil on the final goal – the only ball to find the net in the second half.
“This was a great field, but no skyline,” joked Cutler, referring to the city view from the Dolphins home pitch at Michelle Obama Park. “This was fun. I didn’t know what to expect with this game. We just tried to play together and have fun. Right from the start, we played well. It’s really cool to see us come together and play well.”
Young lost 3-1 in its semifinal game against Plainfield South on Sunday to end Body Armor play. The Dolphins resume their schedule with a key Chicago Public League Premier Division South away game at 4:30 p.m.
Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson said he chose to play junior varsity players due to injuries from a tough opening few weeks. The Rams (2-8-1) have played an ambitious schedule, which has included ranked or previously listed schools Carmel, Deerfield, Mundelein, Warren, Libertyville, New Trier, Lane and Stevenson.
The tough slate has taken a toll on the team, whose skill is not reflected in the win and loss columns.
“It’s one of those things where we are battered and bruised,” Andersson said. “We’ve taken a lot of knocks on the season. It’s now starting to show up. The girls are hurt. We’ve played a tough schedule.
“We even just lost a player to a knee injury we just brought up. We just can’t catch a break. The girls who play all the time, we didn’t want to play and wanted them to get some rest.
“We’re now starting the second half. It’s also conference time. The girls want to win. This is a good learning experience for the girls, so they can see what it’s like playing bigger, better and faster girls.
“It’s something they will learn from, and gives me a better chance to see who can and can’t. It stinks being so injury-prone at this part of the season. It would’ve been so bad if it was early in the season.”
Grayslake Central freshman midfielder Alison Armstrong got valuable minutes against Young.
“This game taught us a lot, just to never give up and to keep trying,” Armstrong said. “I was nervous before the season, because I just tried hard to make varsity.”
Grayslake Central had its second Body Armor game canceled due to the weather Sunday. The Rams will look to end a four-game losing streak when they return to Northern Lake County Conference action with a 6:15 p.m. game Tuesday at Grant.
GK: Shealy Kissner
D: Sienna Barrera
D: Allison Armstrong
D: Samantha Newcomb
D: Mira Begin
MF: Addi Prickett
MF: Mari Williams
MF: Jill Schulz
F: Abbie Floral
F: Alaina Florend
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Moira Koleno, Young, senior, forward.
Young: Cutler (Greenbaum)
Young: Schumacher (Maxwell)
Young: Koleno (Lam)
Young: Koleno (unassisted)
Young: Garton (Roche)
Young: Vaughn (Martinez)
Young: O’Neil (Cutler)