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Jones opening goal awakens the beast in Lane 

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 04/22/23, 8:30PM CDT


Carman brace leads Champions to 5-1 cross-over victory

CHICAGO — Nothing gives more rise to the weirdly unpredictable or madly disruptive as soccer.

Form does not always follow function. The center does not always hold.

Lane dominated the start of its game against Jones only to watch the Eagles capitalize on a mistake.

Suddenly the very real possibility of Jones beating  Lane — which it has never done  — appeared to be a distinct possibility.

Jones had just defeatedrival Young for just the second time ever, and the first for the current senior class, on Wednesday..

Was history repeating itself?

“I think we got a little too confident with that lead,” defender Morgan Scott said.

Lane got serious about the matter at hand.

“The game felt the way a lot of our games have been going, where we have been outplaying the other team, but it hasn’t always gone our way,” Lane midfielder Grace Carman said.

“I think being down just motivated us and lit a fire under us.”

Carman scored two goals for the Champions, who seized control with a late, first half burst in their 5-1 victory Friday in Chinatown.

Carman and midfielder Kristiyana Sevova scored a goal apiece in the closing stretch of the first half, catapulting Lane (5-4-2) to the vital 2-1 lead at the break.

Jones (8-5-0) saw the wrong side of the buzzsaw.

“I think we were all hoping to take  that 1-0 lead going into the half,” Scott said. “We just shut off the last 10 minutes of the first half.

“Those goals just changed our mentality in terms of how we were going into the second half.”

Lane had the advantage of the wind at the start, playing sharp and aggressively and building pressure in the Eagles’ third.

Freshman keeper Ruby Miller made a great stop off a hard ball by Lane forward Jackson Caffey in the 15th minute.

Jones turned the tide moments later. 

On its first significant offensive opportunity, midfielder and Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Carolina Rondelli pushed a free kick from 25-yard just over the top of the bar.

Off the ensuing goal kick, Jones forward Caroline Patterson intercepted the ball on the right wing.

She smashed a looping shot from 23 yards in the 19th minute for the stunning turn of events.

In a game that Jones seemed to be reeling, the Eagles suddenly held a one-goal advantage.

Lane made the appropriate response.

“I think it shocked us, and brought an urgency,” Lane midfielder Jessica Carlson said. 

“That is a problem we are trying to work on, about starting out slowly in some of these games. It was maybe a little bit of a panic but it also helped us score some of those goals.”

The game turned in the closing minutes of the first half. 

The cumulative Lane pressure created vulnerabilities and breakdowns the Eagles could not fully solve.

In the 35th minute, forward Avery Ellis broke free and slotted the ball to the streaking Carman. 

She took a quick stutter-step and blasted home a sidewinder from about 14 yards for the equalizer.

“Avery set me up perfectly, and I didn’t have to do too much,” Carman said.

Carman and Carlson are part of a wave of four sophomore starters as Lane has now soldiered the transition from two-time all-state forward Scout Murray, Gabriella Pop and Maya Martinez-Bates to a bracing new wave of emerging talent.

“We have a lot of young talent on this team, and I am excited for the future,” Carman said. 

She demonstrated a flair for the goal, and the ability to create in space. 

Carlson also showed tremendous quickness and the ability to find the ball and make something happen.

“I know a lot of these players, and I have been playing with them for a long time,” Carlson said. 

“Everyone’s super welcoming, so I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure. Our dynamic is really good, and I think that helps our team really well.”

The tie proved momentary.

After Jones forward Mia McRoberts hit the side net off a tough shot off movement, Lane redirected the ball to the Eagles’ end.

Off a deflection, Sevova trapped the ball and unleashed a low liner from 22 yards in the 38th minute that Miller could not trap.

“That was a nice hard shot, which is what we needed to be doing, taking more and being aggressive in the final third,” Carman said. 

“We realized that after they scored.”

The game was never the same, emotionally or otherwise.

“I thought it was really important we got the lead in the first half,” Carlson said. “I think it really helped that we weren’t down, or even tied, when we started the second half.

“It helped our momentum that we were ahead, and we just had to finish it out.”

Jones felt the sting of changing fortunes.

The Eagles came into the game with the emotional win over Young, their eighth victory in their last nine games.

The only loss during that stretch was against currently 18th-ranked Hinsdale Central. 

That game offered a warning. Jones conceded two late goals in the 2-1 loss.

“We switch it off,” coach Derek Bylsma said. “It usually starts with one player, and we just get lost. It starts spreading amongst the team.

“We have these periods of letdowns during games. Against Hinsdale, two goals in the last 12 minutes. Today Lane scored two goals in the last six minutes (of the first half).”

Having the wind in the second half did not buoy (the Eagles’ opportunities.

Lane still controlled possession time.

Carman extended the lead in the 51st minute. Midfielder Mary Rau slotted a ball at the top of the box, and Carman drilled the shot inside the near post for the lead.

For her outstanding play, Grace Carman earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match distinction.

Jones had a few second half moments. Aiyana Wright, the Eagles’ dynamic freshman, got free a couple of times.

Rondelli also showed her considerable range and versatility in the middle of the attack.

Lane always had an answer.

“We have to stay pushed for the whole game,” Scott said. “I think every player on the field has to make sure we are staying on a player, not switching off with the ball, and making sure we are making the smart play instead of just kicking the ball up.”

No other city team matches the depth of the Champions.

One hallmark of the team is that players off the bench are just as dangerous as the starters they replaced.

“Coming off the bench you want to prove yourself,” midfielder Riya Jain said.

“I think that’s what we do. We have a really good connection.”

Midfielder Leila Chapman played a great through-ball down the right flank that Jain caught in stride and smashed home from nine yards in the 65th minute.

Chapman made up for a misfire moments earlier in front of the goal.

“Soccer is always about your first touch,” Chapman said. “If you have a good first touch, you can control it, and get your head and see everybody else. That makes a big difference.

“When I was younger I’d just kick it anywhere, and hope that somebody would get it. If you play with your head up, you just find people.”

Sofia Avila punctuated the victory with a late goal, a nice welcoming gift after a sprained ankle kept her out of action the last couple of weeks.

“It was kind of frustrating, and it felt great to get back the energy of competitive soccer,” Avila said.

The past matters to the Lane players. The future is packed with possibility.

“We can definitely take advantage of the moment we are having now,” Chapman said. “I feel like we are starting to connect as a team, which I didn’t really see at the beginning of the season.

“As you get to know each other, even at practice, we are a lot more conversant and friendly with each other. That shows an effect on the field, and shows a better connection. I think we are getting closer to the point where we are an actual team.”

The game matched the teams atop the standings of the new South (Jones) and North (Lane) sides of the Chicago Public League’s top tier Premier divisions.

“You have to play pretty flawlessly or they punish you. That’s what Lane does,” Bylsma said. 

“I felt like we played hard and worked hard. This is such a mental game, and we have to be stronger at that. Beating Whitney Wednesday was good. Now if we learn something from this game, it was a good week.”

Starting lineups

GK: Siena Belko
D: Aislin Anstee
D: Olivia Schmit
D: Olive Tinucci
D: Alyssa LoVerde
MF: Kristi Sevova
MF: Jessica Carlson
MF: Mary Rau
MF: Grace Carman
F: Avery Ellis
F: Alica Ugaz

GK: Ruby Miller
D: Karina Teliz
D: Patricia Felder
D: Morgan Scott
MF: Sanai Wright
MF: Mari Hamada
MF: Edni Leal
MF: Carolina Rondelli
F: Caroline Patterson
F: Mia McRoberts
F: Aiyana Wright

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Grace Carman, so., MF, Lane

Scoring summary

First half
Jones—Caroline Patterson (unassisted), 19th minute
Lane—Grace Carman (Avery Ellis), 35th minute
Lane—Kristi Sevova (unassisted), 38th minute

Second half
Lane—Carman (Mary Rau), 51st minute
Lane—Riya Jain (Leila Chapman), 65th minute
Lane—Sofia Avila (Sophia Ramos), 80th minute