ROSELLE -- Wheaton North made an impressive debut as a member of the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 on Tuesday when it displayed plenty of qualities to explain why it's now ranked 19th. Against Lake Park, the Falcons suggested that might not be as high as they rise in the rankings.
Coach Tim McEvilly's club rolled to three goals in the first 18 minutes and concluded with a 6-0 DuKane Conference victory and their sixth-straight win.
The game followed the Falcons (8-3-1, 2-1-0) title at Lockport's Porter Cup, which included 1-0 decisions over the then 14th-ranked hosts in the semifinals and then 15th-ranked Lincoln-Way East in the championship match. The second-straight win in league play followed a formula that has worked well for it in its recent run of success.
The season-high six goals frustrated the Lancers (4-8-0, 0-4-0), who scored 10 goals to claim wins in their first two matches of the season but have scored just four times since.
To the hosts' credit, they battled despite the early deficit and only allowed one more goal until the final 11:18 of play. That was when freshman Jane Rogers scored the first of two goals in short order to complete her hat-trick. She also dished out an assist.
Sophomore Talia Kaempf had a hand in the first three tallies, setting up the initial score in the third minute on a corner kick that was finished by Rogers. That pair exchanged roles for the second goal, which came in the 15th minute. Then Kaempf was back at her best at sending in dangerous restarts. Another corner kick eventually led to a goal by senior Ava Hodel in the 18th minute.
Lake Park relied on a series of threatening corner kicks and free kicks from senior Lauren Malone and several great saves by freshman keeper Ava Garcia to keep things at 3-0 until the 55th minute.
That’s when Wheaton North sophomore Piper Harborth connected to get the visitors back on the attack. Rogers closed things out with two late goals. Senior Macy Hutchinson assisted on two of her team's final three goals, and sophomore Annie Pyykkonen helped set up the other.
Junior Zoey Bohmer continued to shine in goal. She led the Falcons to their fifth-straight shutout and their eighth of the season. That is the same number of shutouts that the team had last season when they also won the Porter Cup. In 2022, Wheaton North stood at 8-3-0 before slumping to finish 9-10-0.
Senior Lauren Nguyen, juniors Sophia Fadel and Addison Falco and sophomore Kylee Gosling got the starts along the backline for Wheaton North. The defense has allowed two goals in losses to top-ranked Metea Valley and Boylan (then ranked fifth in the Class AA Super 7 poll), and three to then no. 11 St. Charles North on April 4. Since that DuKane Conference opener, the team has allowed one score.
That came in the first of the six wins in their current hot streak, a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Batavia.
With Hutchinson joining Rogers at forward and sophomores Calah Strong, Pyykkonen, Kaempf and Harborth distributing the ball from the midfield, the Falcons now have a streak of 16-consecutive goals to their credit.
McEvilly has led Wheaton North since 2001 and coached the third place Class AA finisher in 2006. He points to the home win over Batavia as a catalyst for his team’s recent success.
"I think it all started for us at the Batavia game when we came back from that one-goal deficit to win against a really good team," McEvily said. "That was a very big win, and the girls took a lot of confidence out of that.
"We've had a great deal of success in the goal with Zoey, and I think Jane has scored in seven or eight games in a row. But what's helped to connect all of that is some of the work in the middle by Calah at center mid, Talia has been playing in the middle a lot, Addison and Sophia on the backline have done a great job bringing some people along. We’ve been throwing some different people in there trying to figure who fits in best.
"Everybody is listening to the instructions from those central players and they're taking more ownership. I've got a couple of injured kids so I only have 16 kids that are healthy right now. I'm playing 15 or 16, so they're able to get valuable minutes and to make a difference, which you need later.
"Sometimes you need to get some fresh legs for some players, and we haven't always had the luxury of doing that over the last couple of years. But we have some kids who are feeling confident about their game and you build upon each other.
“Hopefully we can keep it (the streak) up for a while. They love being with each other, and they don't get stressed out in complex situations, in part because they're so comfortable around each other. And they know that they have each others' backs, so they can be more comfortable and confident on the field. That makes practices and training sessions and anytime we're travelling more interesting with this group."
It didn't take the Falcons very long to move in front for good as Kaempf placed a corner kick in front and Rogers fired in a liner from about 15 yards in the third minute.
After Kaempf and Strong were denied by Garcia on attempts a few minutes later, Rogers sent in a pass from the side to Kaempf who scored from close range to make it 2-0 in the 15th minute.
Shortly after Pyykkonen created a corner kick, Kaempf sent that to Rogers, who connected from about 20 yards to give the visitors a 3-0 lead in the 18th minute. For her efforts to help her squad get off to a fast start, Kaempf was named the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match.
"I really like when the rest of my teammates are able to get on the ball and get in the box. That really makes it easier for Jane when she gets in there, and it's great to have her out there for corner kicks," Kaempf said. "It's really fun to be able to feel confident playing the ball to a team that really wants to get in there and who want to score. And it's also the fight that it takes to get to the free kick or to the corner.
"Everyone is a hard worker. We love that, and it's fun to play with everyone. I think that we have so much energy and so much power going into games. I feel like we take our chances when we can. When we feel like we're not playing at our best, we're still trying our best, which also turns out to work."
Although down, Lake Park certainly wasn't out. It had some of the best opportunities during the final part of the opening half, with Malone being the catalyst.
The midfielder started things with a long free kick that was hauled in by Bohmer. Shortly before the break, she sent in a dangerous corner kick that was cleared by the defense. The senior directed another corner kick that was thwarted by Fadel.
"It was really important to stay with it until the end," Malone said. "I know that it was hard for everybody, because they had a few really good players who really kept the pressure and the intensity up. Ava really kind of saved our butts on a few of them (saves). They had some really good shots, but Ava was there.
"It takes a while to learn how everybody plays . We need to know how to put that all together so that we can learn how to play better. I just like the fact that we're always willing to learn and are ready to get better. We come back to practice after a loss like this and are just eager to move on from it and to work more as a team."
Wheaton North's Kaempf had shots denied by Garcia and a defender and Fadel was turned away by the Lancers' freshman keeper early in the second half; Lake Park answered when junior Francesca Cali created a corner kick, and Malone put it in the box before the ball was cleared. A subsequent try from senior Gianna Kubica went a bit wide.
Shortly afterward, Wheaton North collected its fourth goal when Hutchinson sent a pass to Harborth, who fired in a liner from about 20 yards in the 55th minute.
"We've definitely been struggling with letting goals in early," Lancers first-year coach Caroline Kilrea said. "When we let those goals in, we kind of have a breakdown in the back. So, we're working on that. We don't put many goals in the back of the net so we need to do whatever we can to keep them out.
“Today, they just caught us on multiple breaks and caught our defense flat. They gave us a lot of lessons today and number eight up-top (Rogers) is real dangerous. We just weren't ready for it, and they capitalized on that.
"Lauren from start to finish is always one of our toughest workers. She's one of the hardest workers that I've seen, and she never gives up and gives 100 percent.
“And the way that I've seen Ava grow throughout the season is incredible. She started off hesitating to come out and was not very confident. But within the past couple of weeks, she's really said that if I make a mistake, I make a mistake, but I'm going to do it by coming out. I can't be more proud to have her as my goalie this year, because she has really improved and shown up for us.
"One thing about them is that they will never give up, no matter how tough the score is. And they'll give whatever team is out on the field 100 percent from start to finish.
“Wheaton North is just a strong team overall and everywhere on the field. We just have to use them as where we want to be and where we're going to be at some point. We're in a learning year, and we're building on it with the freshmen that we have, starting with Ava in the back."
The Falcons kept the pressure on over the next few minutes but Garcia came up with more big saves. Harborth, Strong, Rogers and Hutchinson had good tries that were deflected by the Lancers keeper.
Lake Park's Malone sent in a final corner kick that was hauled in by Bohmer, Rogers was thwarted on a diving save by Garcia. She scored her second goal from close range in the 69th minute following a pass from Pyykkonen and then connected for her third goal in the 71st minute when Hutchinson sent a pass to her in front of the net.
"I love playing on a team that gets a lot of chances but also capitalizes on those chances," Strong said. "We're all very confident on the ball and we know exactly where our teammates are, so it makes it easier to play with them. It's amazing that we can trust every part of our team. Our defense is very strong, and they don't let goals in. Even if they do, our offense capitalizes on its chances.
"We're constantly moving off the ball and we know exactly where each of us are. It's easier when you know that you can trust in your teammates and play off them and make opportunities forward and also help back on defense. I love how hard working everyone is and just the trust in the team. It's great when you can pass to a teammate and know that they can make a smart decision with it. I think we are going to continue our win streak, that is definitely the goal."
Wheaton North looks to continue its winning ways Thursday when it hosts Glenbard North in a DuKane Conference match. After playing at Benet in a long-delayed match of its Kickoff Classic tournament April 24, the Falcons host rival Wheaton Warrenville South for another DuKane Conference match April 27.
Lake Park plays at nonconference Elgin on April 25 and hosts Glenbard North April 28 in DuKane play.
GK - Zoey Bohmer
D - Lauren Nguyen
D - Addison Falco
D - Sophia Fadel
D - Kylee Gosling
MF - Annie Pyykkonen
MF - Calah Strong
MF - Talia Kaempf
MF - Piper Harborth
F - Jane Rogers
F - Macy Hutchinson
GK - Ava Garcia
D - Peyton Sarubbi
D - Gianna Kubica
D - Ava Ramirez
D - Juliana Selvaggio
MF - Lauren Malone
MF - Cora Riter
MF - Brynn Ellenbecker
MF - Alexa Liapis
F - Miriam Hernandez
F - Milana Positano
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match:
Talia Kaempf, so., MF, Wheaton North
WN- Jane Rogers (Talia Kaempf), 3'
WN - Kaempf (Rogers), 15'
WN - Ava Hodel (Kaempf), 18'
WN - Piper Harborth (Macy Hutchinson), 55'
WN - Rogers (Annie Pyykkonen), 69'
WN - Rogers (Hutchinson), 71'