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Hall's heroics give Riverside-Brookfield stunner over Morton

By Matt LeCren, 04/25/23, 1:30PM CDT


Junior's 78th-minute goal gives Bulldogs 2-1 road win

BERWYN -- Hazel Hall stood on the field in disbelief as her Riverside-Brookfield teammates converged on her in celebration.

The junior forward had just headed home the go-ahead goal with 2:31 remaining in the second half in Monday night’s nonconference game with neighborhood rival Morton.

“It was surreal,” Hall said. “I was standing there with my mouth open. I’ve never experienced anything like that. That was pure joy.”

Hall’s goal, her 10th of the season, proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs came from behind to win 2-1. It was their first win over Morton since 2016; they had gone 0-2-2 in the four meetings since then.

“Morton, you hear, is a soccer school, and it’s really intimidating,” Hall said. “So, I think coming into this and proving that we can compete with anyone is really important.”

Morton star Carisma Rosales lined a 20-yard shot off the underside of the crossbar to give the Mustangs (10-4-1) the lead in just the second minute. The hosts kept Riverside-Brookfield (10-4-1) on its heels in the first half.

But despite trailing for nearly 63 minutes, the Bulldogs fought and clawed for every loose ball and kept the deficit at a single tally.

“From the beginning, I thought we were in it,” Riverside-Brookfield midfielder Niahm Larson said. “Right off the bat, we had some shots on goal.

“That one goal kind of put us down a little bit, but I think we all kind of made sure our heads stayed up, because one goal is not that hard to come back from.”

Riverside-Brookfield coach Ivek Halic, whose team sits in the honorable mention section of the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, could sense a change in fortune was coming once the Bulldogs started to play more assertively in the midfield in the second half.

“It was kind of back and forth,” Halic said. “We had our spurts, then they started getting control.

“Once we got our composure back in the second half, started moving the ball around, I felt that the momentum started to shift over.”

It shifted permanently in Riverside-Brookfield’s direction when Nina Bretz was taken down just outside the box while trying to get around a defender on the left endline.

Larson took the resulting 19-yard free kick, sending her serve in front of the near post, where it was knocked away by a defender.

But Morton failed to clear, and sophomore Raleigh Jesswein tallied the equalizer on a shot up the middle of the box through traffic with 15:06 to go.

Larson also initiated the decisive play, sending a free kick from the right side to Hall, who powered home a header from 15 yards.

“I saw Hazel front post,” Larson said. “I knew exactly where I was going to kick it.

“I knew I was finding her, and she got it in. To come back from being down by one and to make it 2-1, that was just insane.”

But the rally was no fluke

“I give them all the credit; they deserve it,” Morton coach Jim Bageanis said. “They were down 1-0. They hung in there; they battled the whole game.

“We missed a ton of chances, and we weren’t marking on the corner kick. We left the girl free. It’s easy to put it in when no one is on you.”

The result snapped a five-game unbeaten streak for Morton, which will try to start another one Tuesday against West Suburban Conference Gold Division foe Proviso East.

“I was just telling them that those mistakes catch up with you, not finishing your chances. Then they get a hustle goal to tie it 1-1,” Bageanis said. “Now, anything can happen. And it did.

“You’ve got to learn from it and move on and get ready for the next game. We’ll regroup, hopefully for tomorrow with Proviso, and then we go to Iowa (for the Tournament of Champions in Bettendorf).”

Riverside-Brookfield returns home to play Metro Suburban Conferencer cross-over foe Ridgewood on Wednesday with Hall having gained some confidence after doing something she had never done before.

“I’m going to be perfectly honest,” Hall said. “That was my first header goal, so I was proud of that one.

“I saw Niamh cross it, and we were obviously tied at that point. So I was kind of like, ‘I’m just going to drive this one home.’ Sometimes I get a little afraid of the ball, but I was like, ‘You know what, just hit it,’ Good things happen when you aren’t afraid.”

Her coach never counts her out.

“She’s a special athlete,” Halic said. “She continues to surprise, but she’s phenomenal.”

Hall used the same word to describe Morton’s Rosales, a Marquette recruit and Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater who barely missed scoring a couple more goals Monday.

“She’s phenomenal,” Hall said. “I knew of her from club.

“She’s really talented, and I have a lot of respect for her. It’s really impressive.”

So was Riverside-Brookfield’s victory, which gives the Bulldogs a boost with the playoff seeding meeting nearing.

“It’s a big win,” Halic said. “We don’t play them every year, but it’s always a rivalry.

“A lot of the girls know each other from club, so it’s one of those games. They’re in our sectional, so it’s good to kind of compare where we’re at.”

Did Hall expect the Bulldogs to have this good of a record at this point?

“In the beginning, it was a little confusing, because our goalie last year graduated. So, we were trying to figure out schematics with that,” Hall said. “But we didn’t lose our first game for a decent amount of time, so it was definitely like, ‘Oh, we’re really good this year.’

“(This win) is going to be build up confidence for us.”

That win still hadn’t quite sunk in for Hall.

“It was shocking,” Hall said. “I’m still in shock right now.

“I think we’re going to go and celebrate. At least me personally, I’m still riding that high.”

Starting lineups

GK: Piper Blair
D: Lucy Drenth
D: Jessica Sharenow
D: Sophie Swicionis
D: Lena Lembcke
M: Ella Caputo
M: Niamh Larson
M: Madison Bisiules
M: Nina Bretz
F: Hazel Hall
F: Natalie Rubi
GK: Cindy Jimenez
D: Crystal Ozuna
D: Pamela Hernandez
D: Briannna Avalos
D: Romina Lopez
M: Stephanie Slameron
M: Fatima Garduza
M: Ariana Valdovinos
M: Carisma Rosalez
F: Citlali Chavez
F: Aaliyah Leonas
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Hazel Hall, jr., F, Riverside-Brookfield

Scoring summary

First half
Morton: Carisma Rosales (Citlala Chavez, Aaliyah Leanos) 38:12 remaining
Second half
Riverside-Brookfield: Raleigh Jesswein         15:06 remaining
Riverside-Brookfield: Hazel Hall (Niamh Larson)    2:31 remaining