DOWNERS GROVE – Downers Grove North solved a math problem patriotically Saturday.
The Trojans planned to celebrate Senior Day with an all-senior starting lineup against crosstown rival Downers Grove South. But with 13 seniors on the roster, that meant two would have to remain on the bench at the opening whistle.
So Katelyn Hennelly came up with a plan. She and fellow defender Caroline Siebert would eschew a starting role if they were allowed to sing the national anthem.
“I saw a TikTok video of a volleyball team doing that. I told Caroline about that, because we always sing the national anthem when it’s playing before the game, while we’re lined up, just for ourselves,” Hennelly said. “So, we thought it would be a funny surprise for our friends and family.”
Hennelly and Siebert did an admirable job crooning the anthem, but the Trojans were left to sing the blues after the visiting Mustangs posted a 2-1 win at Carstens Field.
Sophomore forward Skylar Swanson’s rebound goal with 7:11 to go in the second half was the difference for the Mustangs (13-3-1) in the evenly played match.
The decisive score came after Downers Grove South defender Teyani Sharkey launched a 41-yard free kick which was stopped but bobbled by the goalkeeper. Swanson raced in and booted the ball home before anyone else could react.
“Creating opportunities for set pieces is something that any team likes to take advantage of,” Downers Grove South coach Chris Hernandez said. “I think Skylar did a great job anticipating and was first one to the ball and found a way to get it past the goalkeeper.”
It was a little bit of redemption for Swanson, who earlier in the second half had misfired on a golden opportunity after Emily Petring sprung her on a breakaway into the box with a great lead pass.
“It feels good to come back and make up for something I could have done (earlier) in the game, to stick with it,” Swanson said of her first career game-winning goal. “I just paid attention to how the goalie was throughout the game, and I know Teyani’s got a good shot.
“So I was like, ‘I’m going to run in while staying onsides and stick with it.’
“You never know. You’ve got to stay with those in case the ball comes out. That’s the second goal I’ve had off of a kick that the goalie fumbled.”
Petring, a Coastal Carolina recruit, had faith in Swanson even after the earlier miss.
“She wanted it back, and we all wanted redemption after that,” Petring said. “She follows through on every free kick.
“I know I can count on her at all times. She’s a great player, and she’s gotten so much better throughout the year.”
Swanson wasn’t the only Mustang who left an opportunity on the table, nor the only one who redeemed herself. Petring had a similar chance in the final seconds of the first half when fellow senior Grace Rappel sent a long free kick up the right wing and over the top of the Downers Grove North defense.
Petring was wide open just outside the box, took a couple dribbles and ripped a 17-yard shot just over the crossbar. The game remained scoreless at intermission.
But she got another crack at it 10 minutes after the break when she was dumped in the penalty area. Petring calmly drilled the resulting penalty kick into the upper right corner for a 1-0 lead with 29:55 left.
The goal was Petring’s 28th of the season, moving her past Crystal Lanski into sole possession of fifth place on Downers Grove South’s career-scoring list.
But the lead didn’t last long. Seven minutes later, Downers Grove North’s Kaitlyn Parker was taken down in the Downers Grove South box.
The junior stepped to the spot and buried her penalty kick, allowing the Trojans (9-8-2) to tie the game with 22:52 to go.
It was still anyone’s game for another 15 minutes before Swanson took advantage of her opportunity.
Downers Grove North got bit by the bad luck bug again.
“That’s been the story of our year, we make a mistake, we pay,” Downers Grove North coach Brian Papa said. “It’s unfortunate what happened.
“Overall, I thought our girls played fine. It was pretty even.
“We did a good job of possessing the ball, but you can’t keep going East-West without anything going forward.”
But Papa has been faced with a conundrum as the Trojans have struggled to do both against quality opponents.
“If I put two up-front or if I put three up-front, it doesn’t matter because then we’re not possessing the ball,” Papa said. “I’m a big believer in possession. We’ve got to figure out how to score goals and stop keep giving goals away.”
While their records may not suggest it, the Mustangs and Trojans are similar in quality as demonstrated by their respective fourth and fifth seeds in the Class 3A Reavis Sectional. It was also on display in the tightly contested match Saturday.
“The rivalry is a big thing,” Swanson said. “We were trying to go into it calm, confident and collected, and we just have to make sure that we’re playing on their level and maybe a step above.”
They were this time, which was the last regular-season cross-town game for the seniors on both teams.
“For my last year, I think all of our seniors wanted to make it memorable,” Petring said. “But we’re not done yet.
“We still might play them in the playoffs. That’s what we look forward to next.”
So are Hennelly and the Trojans.
“We definitely put up a good fight,” Hennelly said. “They had some lucky chances.
“I think going forward, we have to keep up the intensity and just take our chances when we have them. I would really like to (play South again) and have a redemption round, but we’ll see.”
Downers Grove South
GK: Hannah Fedinec
D: Aubrey Molinari
D: Micah Olson
D: Teyani Sharkey
D: Gabriella Okuku
M: Nuria Calderon
M: Ashley Molinari
M: Marifer Duran
F: Grace Rappel
F: Emily Petring
F: Skylar Swanson
Downers Grove North
GK: Elizabeth Reilly
D: Ava Locker
D: Taylor Kuelthau
D: Kailyn Zaroli
M: Callie Fletcher
M: Angelina Santiago
M: Peyton Myers
F: Ellie Watts
F: Elle Larsen
F: Sophia Patrey
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Skylar Swanson, so., F, Downers Grove South
Downers Grove South: Emily Petring (PK) 29:55 remaining
Downers Grove North: Kaitlyn Parker (PK) 22:52 remaining
Downers Grove South: Sklyar Swanson 7:11 remaining