EVANSTON -- One of the trademarks of New Trier’s success has been its ability to win the ball in the air. Whether it be set pieces or defense or whatever, the Trevians always seemed to be one of the best.
Evanston, self-admittedly, has not been that strong in the air.
On Tuesday, the roles reversed when the Trevians, ranked eighth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, traveled to meet the no. 7 Wildkits at Lazier Field.
“We haven’t seen a team that can keep it up out of the air like we can, and I think it was a really good battle,” New Trier’s Sadie Grace Richardson said. “That was the first truly great team we’ve played, and we just couldn’t finish them.”
“We went into this game … (knowing) New Trier’s biggest strength every year is in the air,” Evanston’s Shayna daSilva said. “They love set pieces; they love corners. We knew they were good in the air. I think the fact we were beating them in the air to almost every ball was so good for our team.
“I think we read it better than them. They kind of held back, because they saw us winning every ball. We beat them … in every aspect.”
Evanston manager Stacy Salgado was happy to hear the air observation.
“That’s a real compliment,” she said. “They were reading the ball very well, figuring out where it was landing, which put them in a better position to land those balls. Mia Darer has been solid and wins all the balls in the air.”
The Wildkits used that unusual advantage, an early goal and some tight defense to begin their take down of the Trevians. Evanston’s third-consecutive win in the series handed the visitors a 3-0 defeat.
“I liked the confidence,” Salgado said. “The girls showed it early. They were dangerous early. New Trier’s a strong, physical team but we kept our game plan.”
Knowing that they were going up against their toughest conference opposition, the Wildkits wanted to get on the board first, and preferably early, if they were to gain control of the game.
They did just that. Junior Jocelyn Leigh drove down the right side of the field toward goal. She made it into the box and crossed it toward a pair of teammates in the box; daSilva's finish gave the host’s the lead just 5 minutes, 47 seconds into the contest.
“Jocelyn was running in. I knew that she was going to beat the defender, because she’s just fast,” daSilva said. “I saw nobody in the box and saw another player running near post. So I had to get back post, because if the ball goes over, I’m going to be there.
“She played a perfect ball, and I just wanted to keep it low.”
After the early goal, New Trier was relentless in its pursuit of the equalizer.
Multiple shots went wide. Evanston keeper Ariel Kite was forced to make a couple saves off of free kicks, including one she punched up off of the crossbar.
“We knew from last year and watching other games that Lida Dodge, when she’s over (the ball), she’s definitely shooting. I think we were definitely ready for that,” Kite said. “I was pretty focused on that, and I’ve come a long way on those kinds of saves. I was confident that I could make those.”
Every time the Trevians offense tried to make a run, the Wikdkits defense was there ready to defend.
That included multiple times where New Trier would go down either flank and into the box, looking to make a pass toward the goal. The Evanston defense was prepared thanks to the championship game of New Trier’s Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic against Lyons on April 15.
“We were really organized and have worked a lot on communication in the back and not crashing,” Kite said. “After the Lyons game (a 4-1 loss), where we got scored on by a lot by balls being driven down line and cut back, we worked on that. The defense has really gotten used to trusting each other. One defender will step and the other will mark up in the box.”
“Ariel had a real big first half that helped with our confidence,” Salgado said. “Our defense did a very good job of having someone cover. If the ball did slide through, we had someone there to step up.
“Defensively this was one of our stronger games of the year.”
After seeing New Trier continually put pressure on its defense, the Wildkits offense countered with its own pressure. Evanston put six shots on goal in an eight-minute stretch just over halfway through the first half. Trevian’s keeper Caroline Hague made five saves in the stretch; the sixth shot went wide.
Evanston notched its second goal with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game. Leigh used her speed again to dribble down the field, beat two defenders and put the ball away.
New Trier was back on the attack a minute later when Dodge’s 25-yard shot forced Kite into yet another save.
“We played into their hands and didn’t really change much up,” New Trier manager Jim Burnside said. “I don’t think we made the adjustments we needed to take advantage of the chances we had. But all credit to them. They’re a very good, athletic team that’s quick and dangerous.
“After that first goal, we started to possess a little more. When we possess, we play well. When we get frantic, we don’t play as well.”
“The way they held their defense was new to us,” Richardson said.
Evanston seemed to put another goal on the board with 16:55 remaining, but it was waved off due to an offside call.
Just over a minute and a half later, the Wildkits did make it 3-0 when daSilva put in a free kick that looked like it trickled off Hague’s hands with 15:22 remaining.
“Sydney Ross was crashing the goal, and I think the goalie just got frantic,” daSilva said. “She saw all our players and froze.
“We went up for the free kick, and they set up their wall as if Adriana (Merriam) was going to shoot, which she was because she always does. They covered the left corner but left the right wide open. So, I said to let me take it, because it’s like a pass into the goal.”
New Trier doesn’t have much time to hang its head. The Trevians will compete in the quarterfinals of the Naperville Invitational where they will meet host and ninth-ranked Naperville North at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“That’s athletics, that’s sports,” Burnside said. “You go out there and try your best and then try to be better the next time.”
“The rivalry between these two teams has been a strong one for a long time,” Richardson said. “If we see them again down the line, we have to be composed, but also have an edge and go out there with our heads high, be confident and never think of us as an underdog in any way.
“We just have to go out to the next one knowing it’s 0-0.”
Evanston participates in the Tournament of Champions this weekend in Iowa. The Wildkits open with Ankeny (Ia.) Friday.
GK: Caroline Hague
D: Kennedy Colegrove
D: Clara Deliduka
D: Honor Dold
MF: Sybil Evans
MF: Lydia Vassallo
MF: Lida Dodge
F: Lauren Caldwell
F: Josie Noble
F: Charlotte Dellin
F: Nora Westol
GK: Ariel Kite
D: Anna Bergmann
D: Molly Riley
D: Jordin Kadiri
D: Madeline Ball
MF: Lily Shure
MF: Adriana Merriam
MF: Shayna daSilva
MF: Mia Darer
MF: Sydney Ross
F: Jocelyn Leigh
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Shayna daSilva, senior, MF, Evanston
Evanston - Shayna daSilva (Jocelyn Leigh), 5th minute
Evanston - Leigh, 61st minute
Evanston - daSilva, 65th minute