BATAVIA — Sport combines the isolated portrait with the aggregate. Players form attachments, bonds and specific connections.
It combines the old and new, the fresh and reborn.
The best teams learn how to make both beautifully mesh.
Audrey Stredde is a freshman midfielder at Geneva who is moving around the field with the absence of several of the team’s regular starters.
Evyn Schokora is both an older presence and a new hand. The junior has been on the varsity for three years, but virtually her entire sophomore season was lost to injury. She is in a sense, beginning anew too.
“We have been practicing a lot together, and I can pick up on the tendencies of where she likes to go,” Stredde said.
“She definitely likes the ball at her feet, and I think reading where she is going to go with the ball is the way that we build off each other.”
That combination proved a knockout against rival Batavia.
Stredde scored two goals with Schokora’s assistance during a dominant first half in the Vikings’ 4-0 victory at Tri-Cities Night on Tuesday night.
Schokora was not just a facilitator. She scored a terrific goal off a fantastic feed from Rilee Hasegawa as the Vikings built a 3-0 lead at halftime.
“Those two were especially threatening in the final third,” Hasegawa said.
Significantly, Geneva (12-5-0, 2-2-0), which is ranked 16th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, had the benefit of playing with the ferocious 20-mph southern winds at its back during the first half.
Just like in the opening game, a dominant 4-1 victory by no. 4 St. Charles North over no. 5 St. Charles East, the wind pushed it recipient to great heights.
It was the equivalent of beginning a basketball game with a 10-point cushion.
That deficit proved insurmountable for the Bulldogs (6-6-3, 2-2-1).
“It was definitely tough going against the wind in the first half, but I also think our intensity just wasn’t up to the level with Geneva,” Batavia midfielder Kailey Hansen said.
Stredde seized the increased opportunities of playing time with the absence of forward Olivia Rawls and midfielder Caroline Madden, both of whom are out with injuries.
Typically a midfielder, Stredde pushed up to the top of the formation opposite the fast and furious Hasegawa.
Their speed opened up the Vikings’ attack, and immediately put Batavia on the defensive.
Hasegawa has a darting, electric style and is fantastic in open space. Batavia was already stretched thin trying to slow her down.
That created the first opening in the Bulldogs’ back.
In the 12th minute, operating on the right wing, Schokora directed a one-touch cross that created a breakout for Stredde.
In a rundown with Batavia keeper Abi Cooper, Stredde played the first touch from about eight yards for the opening goal.
Given the special atmosphere, environment and how pumped up the teams were, the early action proved decisive.
Geneva controlled the early emotional tenor, its importance impossible to overstate.
“It was just a great feeling to get ahead so early in such a big game and know that we have all of these fans supporting us,” Schokora said. “It was a big, intense environment, and that made the game really fun.”
The crowd for the evening was estimated at 1,500.
Moving into the wind, Batavia generated some interesting counter movements and compelling actions.
With Hansen, Brooke Carlson, Riley DiBiase and Avery Solomon, the middle is the strength of the Bulldogs’ attack.
Lily Figueras is quick and explosive, like Hasegawa.
But the physical and dynamic Geneva backline, led by central defenders Morgan Rudowicz and Bella Walls, proved difficult to move past. Beyond them is keeper Jordan Forbes, who made six saves for the clean-sheet.
Batavia was left stymied.
“The past few weeks we have put an emphasis on finishing our chances, because it is something we have really been struggling with,” DiBiase said.
“We did have more opportunities in the second half, but it is putting it in the back of the net that really matters.”
With the absence of Rawls and Madden, Geneva has espcially seen the value, in all phases of the game, of Hasegawa.
Her up-top speed created constant pressure.
In the 23rd minute, she broke loose in the middle and slotted a ball for Schokora, who waited brilliantly to avoid the offside call.
She smashed home a short volley from about 12 yards from the right wing for the second goal.
“Audrey and Evyn are doing a great job holding their roles on the team,” Hasegawa said.
“I can always trust Evyn on the field with the ball and finding the right pass. We really showed our strengths on the field as one unit.”
The Stredde-Schokora connection clicked one final time late in the first half to effectively put the game away.
Working out of the center of the field, Schokora broke free and played the ball to her left.
Using her balance and size to shield off the defender, Stredde made a quick jitter step for the necessary separation and blasted home a ball from about 14 yards in the 38th minute.
“That was the first time I ever scored multiple goals in the same game,” she said.
For her outstanding play, Audrey Stredde earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor.
Batavia played hard and more aggressive in the second half, particularly after the Bulldogs added the value of the wind at their back.
Carlson, in particular, was dynamic and highly industrious on the attack.
She got to the right edge and hammered a cross, and also blasted two shots, in the 48th and 57th minute, that required significant athletic stops by Forbes.
“The wind was uncontrollable but what we could control was our effort in the offensive third,” DiBiase said.
“Geneva outplayed us in that aspect.”
Hansen had a solid header in the 70th minute that Forbes stymied.
Batavia did not just play out the string. The Bulldogs played with purpose and a direct abandon.
“It was difficult trying to come back being down three goals, but going with the wind in the second half, I definitely felt like we picked up our intensity,” Hansen said.
“We were able to get some good chances.”
Geneva put the finishing touches with a 76th-minute goal by Rudowicz, who was momentarily back at her forward position.
“I started playing in the back as a position of need, because one of defenders, Bella Walls, was out of town,” Rudowicz said.
“I wasn’t sure whether I was going to stay back there, but I am not too sad about it. It is very fun with Bella to make some really good connections out there, and we played club together.
“It was a great game tonight, especially coming out against our rivals. … The younger girls, like Audrey, definitely put their stamp on the team.”
In between the two Tri-Cities Night games, the players from the four teams gathered for a colorful group photo.
Sydney Mowen, the Batavia freshman who is recovering from a heart transplant and was the focus of the evening’s fundraising efforts, joined in with members of her family.
It was a deeply touching and moving moment on a glorious night.
GK: Jordan Forbes
D: Luci Okolita
D: Morgan Rudowicz
D: Bella Walls
D: Cami Bishop
MF: Julianna Drew
MF: Evyn Schokora
MF: Lilly Coats
MF: Leyna Yonehara
F: Audrey Streede
F: Rilee Hasegawa
GK: Abbi Cooper
D: Alexa Schor
D: Hannah Hickman
D: Delia Perfect
MF: Addison Lowe
MF: Kailey Hansen
MF: Riley DiBiase
MF: Brooke Carlson
MF: Reese Recker
MF: Avery Solomon
F: Lily Figueras
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Audrey Stredde, fr., F, Geneva
Geneva—Audrey Stredde (Evyn Schokora), 12th minute
Geneva—Schokora (Rilee Hasegawa), 23rd minute
Geneva—Stredde (Schokora), 38th minute
Geneva—Morgan Rudowicz (Ashley Marquardt), 76th minute