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Loyola chases, can’t catch Libertyville

By Michael Wojtychiw, 04/17/23, 2:45PM CDT


Ramblers fall on Rebman’s 1st half goal in Malnati’s consolation round

NORTHFIELD -- The Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic offers teams a chance to see where they stack up against top-class programs just before the season’s midway point.

Some teams, like Loyola, are still looking to find the perfect formations, see which players fit together best and what they can do to not only help them be successful in the regular-season, but also prepare them for what’s to come in a few weeks when they hope for a deep postseason run.

“I think we are still trying to put some pieces together,” Loyola manager Shannon Hartinger said. “We played this week without Ella Couri, who is a big part of our attack, and I think it was an opportunity for other players to get integrated. 

“A lot of players have stepped up in the last couple of weeks, especially some of our younger players who are new to varsity this year. It's been nice to be able to integrate them in these important games and give them the experience that will hopefully help us down the road. 

“Any coach wants to build depth. I think we're starting to do that. And we're starting to see some good performances from our bench, which is really important.”

Hartinger’s Ramblers have gone toe-to-toe with their tough tournament foes but haven’t been able to get a result.

That was witnessed again in their consolation game against Libertyville on Saturday afternoon at New Trier’s Northfield campus. The game ended in the Wildcats’ favor, a 1-0 win courtesy of a goal by Ellia Rebman with just under 14 minutes to go in the first half. Again, the Ramblers showed their moxie.

“I think that we've learned that we're able to match other teams that may have better players or show more intensity,” Loyola’s Caroline Southwell said.

Libertyville’s Rebman, while listed as a defender on the roster, has changed from her original center back position to more of a center midfield role of late.

For manager Daniel DePaz, the switch was an easy one to make.

“We have a lot of center backs on our team,” he said. “When we look at a true attacking forward like that, we have a few options, but I think the speed that she brings is a main reason we put her up there, as well as the intelligence she has to move without the ball too.” 

The move has paid off. Rebman now leads the team with four goals, including the game-winner in the first half Saturday.

For her efforts, the senior earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match distinction.

“I made a little run through the middle and got the ball away from the defender, took it from her and played it through the goalie’s legs,” Rebman said.

Rebman caused havoc for the Ramblers throughout the entire game, putting numerous shots on net. She always seemed to be around the goal, which helped lead to her first half tally.

“I think it's just been fun playing up-top,” she said. “I mean, I normally don't get chances like that; I don't get chances to score from my center back position. So, I think it's fun to be able to create plays, get assists, get goals.”

Loyola never quit fighting for the equalizer.

The Ramblers, who entered the match ranked 25th Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, were able to use the wind to their advantage in the second half to put constant pressure on the Libertyville goal.

“With a lot of new players this season, we’ve been growing in every aspect of the game, and we saw that in the second half,” Loyola’s Tess O’Brien said. “We were able to get the ball forward, get it to our front line and that really helped us gain more traction.” 

“The last couple of games, we've had a lot of energy, a lot of hype going into this tournament,” Southwell said. 

“The big thing was switching the ball from the left side a lot, and we wanted to bring it to the right. And once we were able to connect to the right side of the field through the midfield, we had more shots in that second half.”

Hartinger was happy with how her team was able to respond in the second half, even though the squad wasn’t able to put a tally on the scoreboard.

It’s something that the Loyola coach, who started her tenure in 2019, knows will happen with time.

“This whole first part of our season, where we've had really all tough games, I think we've grown in our experience of dealing with a high level of play,” she said. “So, I'm hoping that experience is going to carry us as we transition into the next phase of our season. I'm hoping that experience over these last two weeks is  going to help push us forward.”

Both O’Brien and Southwell know that their squad improved during the tournament, even if the record may not have shown it.

Loyola, always stout on defense, finished the tournament with two clean-sheets, holding both Lake Forest and Glenbrook South scoreless during pool play.

“I think it's just recognizing that even the non- defensive players, everyone on the field is playing defense, whether you're a forward, a midfielder or an actual defender,” O’Brien said. “I think it's working together as a team to force them inside. 

“We've been spending a lot of time working on that and communicating, which is helpful for us winning the ball up-top in the defense. These are defensive skills to put the ball in the final third so we can go for it as well.” 

Eleventh-ranked Libertyville suffered back-to-back one-goal losses this week to 22nd-ranked Naperville North and no. 8 Evanston, so DePaz and Rebman were happy to see how the team responded against another quality opponent.

“I think we just have a really good team, and we're very supportive and positive,” she said. “They were great teams that we went against. I just think our positivity and supporting each other that got us through it.”

“It's been a long time since this program as a team has had a couple of losses in a row,” De Paz said. “The girls got down a little bit after that last game. But when you look at the teams that we've lost to, Naperville North, Evanston, those are those are high quality teams. 

“And I think at different points in both of those games, you can argue that we were probably a better team in some of those parts. We're just focusing on getting better each and every day. And reflecting on those two games, we did some really good things. And we had opportunities to put them on their heels. And we certainly did that. 

“We’re just focusing on the good things that we did and moving forward.”

The Wildcats manager wouldn’t mind starting a streak off of the win Saturday.

“We’re just focusing on the positive things and just making these little tweaks, little adjustments and just building on that,” he said. 

Loyola’s schedule remains vigorous. They’ll face conference foe Mother McAuley before starting play in another rigorous tournament, the Naperville Invitational. 

Loyola’s pool in the invitational consists of Bolingbrook and Oak Park and River Forest. Hartinger hope the next week will help be a catapult for the rest of the season.

“I think we've really talked about how we've been solid for the most part in the back,” Hartinger said. “We've done a nice job in the midfield. I think we just have to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net. Our buildup has been good, and I think we just have to be a little bit better and a little bit sharper in the final third. 

“I think that's one of the things we're really going to be looking for in the next couple weeks, being a little bit more aggressive going to goal and finishing some of the chances we're creating.”

Starting lineups

GK: Biranna Valdez
D: Mabelle Kosowski
D: Pru Babat
D: Maddy Kopala
MF: Molly Koch
MF: Meg O’Donnel
MF: Shannon Phillips
MF: Shea Krakowski
MF: Jenna Krakowski
MF: Ellie Rebman
F: Lilly Frantz

GK: Ellie Bradley
D: Mia Wisler
D: Sadie Merriott
D: Emily Pikarski
D: Ellianna Seeley
MF: Claire Brady
MF: Grace Lynch
MF: Emma Shaffer
F: Emily Plovanich
F: Ellie Vehovsky
F: Tess O’Brien

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Ellie Rebman, sr., MF, Libertyville

Scoring summary

First half
Libertyville: Ellie Rebman (unassisted), 26th minute

Second half
No scoring