BERWYN — Opposites attract, and collide simultaneously, given the natural flow and frenzied disorder of the game.
Willowbrook was hungry for exciting and positive news. Morton looked to sustain a free-and-open attack.
Morton had all the apparent advantages, but Willowbrook was the reactor who persisted in the face of adversity.
“When I think of our team, I see very much a developing team,” Willowbrook forward Molly Brennan said.
“When I look at my players, I see a lot of potential.”
Morton felt the sting of that hungry promise.
The Mustangs’ top-two attacking threats, midfielder Carisma Rosales and forward Aaliyah Leanos, took charge during a staggering second half burst.
Rosales and Leanos delivered the knockout with a nine-minute scoring clinic for the 3-1 victory in West Suburban Conference Gold Division play Saturday afternoon.
Leanos had a goal and two assists, and Rosales added a goal and assist in the comeback victory.
Morton (10-3-1, 2-0-0) extended its unbeaten streak to five games. The Mustangs are now 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
“We had a great start right at the beginning of the second half,” Leanos said. “Carisma played that nice ball, and we were able to get a shot off pretty much right away there.
“We didn’t panic when we were down. We just said it’s not that big of a deal, one mistake in the back. The game was still very manageable at that point.”
Despite the loss, the Warriors (3-8-0, 1-2-0) achieved a measure of satisfaction with Brennan’s goal in the 22nd minute.
It was just their fourth goal of the year, and the first since a 1-0 conference victory over Addison Trail on April 4.
“It just felt great to be up and ahead in a game,” Brennan said. “I want us to cherish that hope of victory, and chase that feeling so that we become more aggressive on that front and our approach to the game.”
The other principal reason for the Warriors’ strong play was keeper Maddie Aderholt.
She was spectacular with 13 saves, bending her body and often doing whatever was necessary as the Mustangs peppered her with relentless shots from multiple angles.
“This game was definitely a big challenge for us because they put a lot of pressure on our defense,” Aderholt said.
“They have a very strong attacking team, and we had to make up for a lot of covering for each other with our communication. They’re fast, and they are determined to go after every ball.”
A Marquette recruit, Rosales is electrifying. She earned Chicagoland Soccer All-State honors last season after scoring a staggering 25 goals and creating 20 assists.
She is liquid with the ball at her feet, creative, fast and fluid, and almost impossible to slow down.
Rosales cuts through defenders and carves up space, using her up-tempo and fast style to wear out the opposition.
When she shoots, the ball just explodes off of her foot.
Morton monopolized the time of possession, and most of the first half was played deep in the Warriors’ defensive end.
Aderholt was magnificent; the Mustangs were stymied.
Willowbrook caught Morton off guard with the forward push of Brennan.
After midfielder Kennedy Vannoy blasted a ball deflected by Morton keeper Yaritza Padilla, Brennan caught the rebound for a quick one-two volley from about 14 yards.
“It was great that we got that goal, and better than them shutting us out,” Aderholt said,
“I felt like we kept playing strong. We had some weak moments, but overall, I think we kept playing and communicating out there.”
The Brennan goal held up into the half. Aderholt posted eight of her saves in the opening half, aggressively moving off her line to stop a Rosales ball from about 12 yards in the 37th minute.
Willowbrook forced Morton to regroup at halftime.
“I think our intensity was a little bit on the lower spectrum in the first half,” Leanos said.
“Once we had our halftime talk with the coaches, we got that back.”
In the end, the Mustangs needed nine minutes to put the game out of reach.
In the 47th minute, Rosales played a ball down the left flank that Leanos caught in stride and pushed toward the Willowbrook goal.
She blasted a ball from about 12 yards. Aderholt was up to the challenge, throwing her body into the path of the ball.
She couldn’t get control of the rebound, and midfielder Fatima Garduza was on the spot for the quick and decisive put-away in front of the goal.
“We just kept pushing and pushing, and finally had to take advantage of our opportunities there,” Garduza said.
“I just went for the ball and took the shot.”
Morton put the game away with magnificent goals by Leanos and Rosales in a two-minute burst.
In the 53rd minute, working the left wing, Rosales broke free and evaded a defender, sliding into space and slotting a ball that Leanos hammered home from about 12 yards.
“I think what helped us a lot was just discovering what their weaker side was. Just playing specifically on that side, and we could identify who their stronger players were,” Leanos said.
As good as Aderholt was, she had no chance to stop a one-on-one action like that.
“I think after our first goal, as a team we just put in the work to get a couple of goals in there,” Rosales said.
“We did a much better job of pushing up and getting forward during the second half. The game was mostly in their half. We just had to take our chances.”
The Leanos and Rosales connection put the game away moments later.
With the ball near midfield, Leanos made a quick and dazzling back tap that Rosales caught in space and took to goal.
Aderholt again found herself on an island.
Rosales forced her off the line and nailed a ball home from nine yards the 55th minute.
Willowbrook generated some solid chances in the final minutes.
Sophomore Halie Ahrens, part of the young talent hyped by Brennan, showed toughness and talent as a two-way threat.
She created some decent chances for Brennan in the second half. Defender Alyssa Basford also showed toughness and skill, nulling some of the forward runs of Leanos and Rosales.
Sophomore Emily Barth is another of the young players who showed resolve and capable ballhandling skills at the top of the formation.
Vannoy and Grace Soltys also played well for the Warriors.
If their actions did not have concrete results, Willowbrook demonstrated resolve and a deep competitive urge.
“Honestly, as a team, I thought this was a really good game for us today,” Aderholt said.
“I thought we had some opportunities we just didn’t take advantage of. You saw that with the rebound goal that Molly had.”
The Morton firepower was simply too great.
Carisma Rosales and Aaliyah Leanos shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor for their brilliant play.
“One-two, one-two, is probably the first priority for us, and best describes the way we play together,” Leanos said.
“We always know where each other is on the field. I think we just have that advantage and just that chemistry compared with other teams, playing in that triangle, and just finding each other.”
GK: Maddie Aderholt
D: Annabelle Thompson
D: Jenna Boynton
D: Halie Ahrens
D: Alyssa Basford
MF: Liz Tretina
MF: Kennedy Vannoy
MF: Natalia Garcia Avila
MF: Grace Soltys
F: Emily Barth
F: Molly Brennan
GK: Yaritza Padilla
D: Romina Lopez
D: Brianna Avalos
D: Pamela Hernandez
D: Crystal Ozuna
MF: Ariana Valdovinos
MF: Stephanie Salmeron
MF: Citlali Chavez
MF: Carisma Rosales
MF: Fatima Garduza
F: Aaliyah Leanos
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Carisma Rosales, jr., MF, Morton; Aaliyah Leanos, jr., F, Morton
Willowbrook—Molly Brennan (Kennedy Vannoy), 22nd minute
Morton—Fatima Garduza (Aaliyah Leanos), 47th minute
Morton—Leanos (Carisma Rosales), 53rd minute
Morton—Rosales (Leanos), 55th minute