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Tretina goal, Willowbrook's fight highlight Senior Night

By Dave Owen, 05/04/23, 1:45PM CDT


Warriors show mettle, fall to Hinsdale South 3-1

VILLA PARK -- Willowbrook’s Senior Night turned into a showcase for the future.

Hinsdale South freshman Josslyn Farrare scored in the game’s first minute Tuesday, and Hornets sophomore Audrey Atkinson followed with two goals to produce a 3-0 lead with 38:06 left in the West Suburban Conference Gold Division game.

Battling on despite the absence of two starters, Willowbrook (3-11-0, 1-3-0) answered with a much improved second half attack and an impressively struck 30-yard free kick goal from sophomore Liz Tretina in a 3-1 loss to the Hornets (10-4-0, 2-1-0).

It was that late response to adversity that was the Warriors’ main takeaway from Tuesday.

“We came out way stronger in the second half,” Tretina said. “I think we looked to find better passes, and we looked to space more. We were getting tired, but we played as best we could for how tired we were.”

The sophomore summed up the Warriors’ approach to a 2-0 halftime deficit.

“I don't think we were too down,” Tretina said. “I think we adjusted and started pressing good after that. We woke up and realized that we needed to get ourselves together.”

The Willowbrook coaches’ approach was also upbeat.

“We challenged the girls to win the second half, and we tied the second half,” Willowbrook assistant coach Pete Montgomery said. “That was definitely improved play on our behalf.

“We pushed offensively a little more. We created a few corner kick opportunities, and the free kick that turned into a goal for us. Those are all results of working a little harder on offense.”

Willowbrook had to deal with a major adjustment heading into the game with senior starting goalkeeper Maddie Aderholt sidelined  by injury.

“Obviously we're broken hearted for Maddie, who got hurt Friday night and wasn't able to play today,” Montgomery said. “Hopefully it’s not too serious, but we’ll know more this week.

“We were also missing (senior forward) Kennedy Vannoy tonight, and she adds to our offense.”

Sophomore defender Halie Ahrens’ sprained ankle also kept her out of the lineup Tuesday, adding to the challenge of facing a talented and quick Hornets side.

But the Willowbrook seniors who were in action Tuesday have all made a significant impact.

“Alyssa Basford and Jenna Boynton have been rock solid in the back on defense for us,” Montgomery said. “And Molly Brennan in the middle keeps things organized and helps with the transition from defense to offense.

“Alyssa and Molly have been solid for us all season long, and Jenna Boynton on defense is back there doing the right things and being in the right places. It’s nice to have that play out of those seniors. They're very consistent leaders.”

Brennan summed up what her four years in the Willowbrook program have meant to her.

“This program is how I've been able to keep playing soccer,” Brennan said. “I can’t do club during the school year. It's great competition. It's great people, great friends, and I enjoy every second I'm on the field.”

And despite the loss, Tuesday’s second half showing provided more enjoyment – and a preview of what’s on the horizon.

Underclassmen dominated rosters on both sides Tuesday.

“We were so much more aggressive toward the ball,” Brennan said. “We've got a lot of heart, and this year we've done a lot of learning. But I'm so excited for next year: I need to come back to some games, because I think there's going to be such growth as they get more experience.”

Sophomore Payton Brose had a new experience Tuesday; she was thrust into the role of starting goalkeeper due to Aderholt’s absence.

“It’s her first start in goal,” Montgomery said. “She's been very solid on the field playing some outside midfield for us. We were missing her on the field.

“A lot of changes today, but we roll with those and focus on the things we did well.”

Hinsdale South’s offense did things very well from the opening seconds of play, with Farrare’s goal off a Makena Camden assist giving the Hornets a 1-0 lead less than a minute in.

“Josslyn's a freshman, and we've been talking about getting her more and more involved,” Hornets coach Jen Belmonte said. “Today she had the mindset to sneak up (from the midfield), and it paid off. I'm glad to see that.

“Makena (Camden) got in deep and then played the slotted ball back up-top, and Josslyn was there. It was nice, just how we practiced it.”

The early 1-0 lead began a strong first half for the Hornets. A corner kick in the 10th minute was cleared from danger by Basford, and an even better chance followed in the 14th minute when Kennedy Ruff’s 8-yard shot from in front went just wide right.

Then in the 24th minute, a perfect Camden touch pass up the middle found Atkinson. The sophomore did the rest, splitting two defenders and powering home the 12-yard shot for a 2-0 lead.

“Our through-balls were good, and our midfielders are good off the ball,” Atkinson said.

“We're really good right now, in a much better place than last year (when the Hornets finished 7-11-0). We could get second in the conference, and that's amazing. And we're half freshmen (on the roster). The future should build and be better.”

Hinsdale South continued its blitz in the 27th minute, but Brose made a great-point blank save on Tian Schulte’s 8-yard shot. Two Willowbrook defenders then denied any rebound bid until Brose could recover and dive on the loose sphere.

Brose closed the half with saves on 20-yard shots by Atkinson and Ruff.

But the second half opened with another Hornets quick strike. Just 114 seconds in, Alexander burst in right off another Camden pass and angled a 25-yard drive beyond a diving Brose and barely inside the lower left corner of the net to make the score 3-0.

“A lot of props to Audrey and Makena all season,” Belmonte said. “If you look at our stats, they really know how to connect. They're really playing well off each other.

“Makena really knows how to feed the through-ball. She has that perfect pass, and she found Audrey twice, and without that it's a tie game (at the end).”

Willowbrook showed great resilience down 3-0.

Brose’s catch in a crowd of a corner kick with 35:20 left was followed by two nice plays by Grace Soltys – an offensive zone rush to the end line that was denied by the Hornets defense, then her clear of the crease of a loose ball off a corner with 28:30 to go.

Those preceded two nice bookend offensive plays by Tretina, the second of which put the Warriors on the scoreboard.

The sophomore first made a nice 1-v-1 drive on the right -side that Hornets goalkeeper Ella Hardman saved at the right post with 28:05 to go.

On Willowbrook’s next offensive end bid, a hand ball set the table for a Tretina 30-yard free kick. Her straight-on strike perfectly sailed over the defense and just under the crossbar and beyond the long reach of 6-foot-tall goalkeeper Hardman to make the score 3-1 with 26:56 remaining.

“That's what I was aiming for (under the crossbar),” Tretina said, “but I didn't think it was actually going to go in. That's practice. I’ve had one other one like that.”

Her perfect strike provided inspiration for a strong late-game showing by the Warriors.

“We've had a little bit of a rough season,” Tretina said, “… As long as even one person is trying I feel like everyone can work together better as a team.”

That happened Tuesday.

After Brose’s nice, high block denied an Atkinson right-side shot with 19:20 left, Willowbrook kept up the offensive heat.

Tretina powered a right-side shot off the side of the net with 16:40 to go. Then three minutes later, her corner kick resulted in an initial clear, then a Basford shot grabbed by Hardman.

Hinsdale South freshman Anna Wilcox was part of two late chances for the Hornets.

Brose blocked and controlled Wilcox’s high right-side shot with 10:25 to go, then Brose came up big twice in succession with 5:20 left.

After diving to stop Atkinson’s initial try, Brose managed to recover and also block Wilcox’s six-yard rebound bid.

“They're a really good team,’ Brennan said of Hinsdale South. “Sometimes you have to bow your head and be like 'They did good.'

“But I love my team’s energy and commitment they have on the field, and I know all of them are working hard to get to the ball and improve. So honestly, all good feelings about the night.”

While enduring late threats by the Hornets, Willowbrook didn’t go quietly. Passes by Charlotte Lowe and Tretina sprung Lexi Rattin on a rush to the box, but Hardman made a sliding grab of the ball to fend off that bid.

Willowbrook has faced quality nonconference foes like Plainfield North and Waubonsie Valley, and led West Suburban Conference Gold Division rival, league unbeaten Morton, 1-0 on the road in the second half on a Brennan goal before falling 3-1.

“We have a lot of girls working hard and making steps in the right direction,” Montgomery said. “We just have to keep the momentum going and not get discouraged.”

A group of six sophomores on varsity bodes well for that future momentum.

“They’re the heart of our team,” Brennan said. “They're the biggest group, and they make it fun.”

The mutual appreciation was evident from the underclassmen.

“It would have been good if we won for them (on Senior Night),” Tretina said of the seniors, “but we played our best. Last year was hard: this year's group of seniors is great.

"It was hard to develop last year, because I didn't feel very welcomed to the team, so I'm trying to help our freshmen (Emily Barth and Mariella Wiegel on varsity) now so they feel a part. If we're all together, we play better together.

“We're all still developing,” Tretina added, “so I think we will get better together. I think once we as sophomores are older we'll be very strong. I think we'll be way more fierce in two years when we're seniors, and have a better chance of winning conference and things like that.”

As for the rest of 2023, a main focus is on more offense.

“I want to keep building on our aggression forward,” Brennan said. “We play a defensive game. A lot of times we know we're up against good teams, and we start pulling back to cover. When we start playing aggressive up-front, that's what we need, pushing forward and aggression instead of just covering the back.”

For Hinsdale South, spirits are also high heading into a key game Thursday vs. conference co-leader Downers Grove South (11-3-1, 5-0-0).

“We're in a good spot,” said Belmonte, whose team earned a no. 3 seed in the Class AA Nazareth Sectional behind Benet and Lemont. “We'll have a nice test Thursday with DGS, but we're excited for that game. We’re playing well.”


Starting lineups

Hinsdale South

GK: Ella Hardman

D: Fatima Mendoza-Lopez

D: Macey Laskowski

D: Olivia Fulton

D: Alyssa Watson

M: Tian Schulte

M: Keely Sullivan

M: Josslyn Farrare

M: Makena Camden

F: Audrey Atkinson

F: Kennedy Ruff


GK: Payton Brose

D: Annabelle Thompson

D: Jenna Boynton

D: Alyssa Basford

D: Emily Barth

M: Natalia Garcia-Avila

M: Molly Brennan

M: Lexi Rattin

M: Camryn Warnke

F: Grace Soltys

F: Liz Tretina

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Audrey Atkinson, so., F, Hinsdale South

Scoring summary

First half

HS- Josslyn Farrare (Makena Camden), 1’

HS- Audrey Atkinson (Camden), 24’

Second half

HS- Atkinson (Camden), 42’

W- Liz Tretina (free kick), 54’