LA GRANGE — Her name rhymes with foray, appropriate given the way Kate Goray plays.
The Downers Grove North forward has a sharp and fluid step in her game and a deceptive playmaking and creative style that optimizes the Trojans’ attack.
At the start of her Sunday game, she was out of sorts. She wanted to change that.
“In the first half, I was not getting as much success down the line,” Goray said. “I think it was because I was trying to take the girl on
“In the second half, I just wanted to get inside.”
Goray created two textbook assists that powered the Trojans’ 3-2 victory over Plainfield South in a bracket championship of the Body Armor event at Lyons Sports Complex on Sunday.
The Trojans (7-5-2) restarted their roll, pulling off their sixth win in their last seven games. The only somber note during the run was a 1-0 loss against Andrew on Saturday.
In defeating emerging power Plainfield South (12-2-1), an honorable mention program in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, the Trojans managed two things at once, a come-from-behind victory and staving off a late Cougars’ rally.
“We struggled a bit in the beginning of the season, but we have really been clicking as a team recently,” said junior forward Kaitlyn Parker, who came off the bench to score twice.
“We’re getting goals, we’re getting crosses, and Kate is making great runs and great services, and we are in the right place at the right time.”
The action was relentless and consequential, with the Trojans establishing the early advantage only to see Plainfield South strike first off a counter.
Goray had some choice early shots from the right wing and was joined in the attack by midfielder Ellie Watts and forward Sophia Patrey at the top of the attack.
Freshman keeper Hannah Folliard registered seven saves for Plainfield South and prevented any early damage.
Off a counter in the 14th minute, the Cougars caught Downers Grove North flat-footed and out of position.
The dynamic forward tandem of Kaitlyn Cheop and Addison Grigg worked beautifully in space.
Cheop played a through-ball to Grigg, who outraced Trojans’ keeper Gianna Hunsche to the ball and squeezed through a 13-yard blast.
“When we get forward, we have the great advantage of getting everything done,” Grigg said.
“These girls come in and play whatever position they are told, and they get the job done.”
Dazed by the sudden change of fortunes, Downers Grove North regrouped and found its stride.
Rotating players in at the midway point of the first half, Parker was part of a wave of newcomers.
She made her presence felt almost immediately.
Addison Liszka struck a beautiful, looping free kick from about 35 yards that took a wicked bounce and deflected off Folliard.
Parker was magically on the spot and drilled in the short rebound for the equalizer in the 24th minute.
“That felt so good,” Parker said. “We started off and we got the goal, and we just kept going from there.”
A disruptive stopper in the back, Liszka is a secret weapon with her booming leg.
She saw vulnerability in the Plainfield South back.
“I had my space, and I just decided we have to start shooting to build our confidence back up after they scored,” Liszka said.
“I just knew that 'Park' and everybody else was going to be there for the follow-up. As a team, the more we shoot, the more confidence we have. Once we have that confidence, we’re unstoppable.”
In an emotional game, finding the moment to rise up to the occasion just elevated the confidence and manner of the Trojans.
Liszka said the key was not overreacting to the Plainfield South goal, and for the Trojans to play at their own pace and rhythm.
Chances would invariably come.
“It’s all about just taking that deep breath and looking to see what we have,” she said.
“Obviously we want to score as soon as possible, but the focus was still playing soccer and connecting and doing what we were doing, because eventually we were going to score and win.”
Goray was the story of the second half, the lynchpin of the attack from her left forward spot.
Both of her assists mirrored each other. She started on the flank, using her speed and quickness to create off the dribble.
She set up Parker in front of the goal in the 49th minute, and sophomore forward Elle Larsen for the eventual game-winner in the 55th minute.
On both goals, Goray pulled the keeper off her line, and gave her teammates open looks in front of the available goal.
“When you get to the end line and play it off, it is really hard for the keeper to get to the ball,” Goray said.
“I just tried to make the angle hard for the keeper, and eventually play so we could get to the ball.”
Kate Goray earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match distinction for her outstanding play.
Soccer is a game pivoting on emotion and intensity. It also requires a short memory.
“It was definitely a little discouraging to have the start we had at the beginning and then be down the way we were,” Goray said.
“We just forgot about it, and we played as if it were a 0-0 game. Then we scored, and we were right back in it.”
Watts was another revelation for the attack, using her balance, speed and footwork to create in the middle of the pitch.
She was able to get to the goal as a secondary creator.
The activity and movement proved vital after Plainfield South staged a late rally.
In the 62nd minute, defender Kendall Pachowicz blasted a free kick from the right edge from about 30 yards.
Her ball was perfectly placed, eluding the reach of Hunsche to suddenly tighten the game.
Plainfield South generated some other decent opportunities, especially with Grigg and Cheop.
Hunsche secured the victory by leaping and stopping a ball by Mason Hillery in the closing seconds.
“The loss was unfortunate, but I am really proud of this team,” Grigg said. “We have come a long way, and we’ve had a good season.
“We never gave up today. It could have gone either way.”
Downers Grove North has learned how to seal the deal.
“I think we have definitely grown closer as a team,” Goray said. “We know how each other plays.
“Now we are really just there to build each other up on the field, help each other when we don’t make the best plays, and just congratulate everybody for our success.”
Downers Grove North
GK: Gianna Hunsche
D: Katelyn Hennelly
D: Kailyn Ziroli
D: Addison Liszka
D: Ava Locker
MF: Taylor Kuelthau
MF: Lexi Keown
MF: Elle Larsen
MF: Ellie Watts
F: Sophia Patrey
F: Kate Goray
GK: Hannah Folliard
D: Arabella Gaudiuso
D: Maya Gay
D: Mackenzie Whitmire
D: Kendall Pachowicz
MF: Olivia Satala
MF: Alexandra Arnold
MF: Izabella Haddad
MF: Kara Smith
F: Kaitlyn Cheop
F: Addison Grigg
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Kate Goray, sr., F, Downers Grove North
Plainfield South—Addison Grigg (Kaitlyn Cheop), 14th minute
Downers Grove North—Kaitlyn Parker (Addison Liszka), 24th minute
Downers Grove North—Parker (Kate Goray), 49th minute
Downers Grove North—Elle Larsen (Goray), 55th minute
Plainfield South—Kendall Pachowicz (free kick), 62nd minute