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Evanston makes it back-to-back CSL titles vs. Deerfield

By Rusty Silber, 05/10/23, 7:15PM CDT


Leigh, Merriam braces pace 5-0 victory

By Rusty Silber 

EVANSTON -- Evanston started what it hopes is a back-to-back run with a second-consecutive Central Suburban League championship Tuesday night.

The Wildkits shut out visiting Deerfield 5-0. Last year, they took down the Warriors 3-1.

Soon comes the biggest hope for a rerun -- a return to the Class 3A state finals.

Evanston sits at 17-2-1 overall and is ranked 10th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25. The Wildkits entered the season trying to remake their team after the loss of 13 graduated players.

Things are working quite well.

"It was a good solid win, and Deerfield was a good opponent for us being a strong team," Stacy Salgado said. "It was nice to come out with a big night with Senior Night. It was something special!"

Evanston broke the ice in the 14th minute. A second score in the 30th minute put the team in solid shape at halftime.

"Getting that early goal helps us and builds our confidence," Salgado said. "I do think we're headed in the right direction. Things are starting to click and connect. The players are starting to figure each other out. This is the time of the season you want to be at your peak."

Freshman Bridgit Durkin scored the opener after a long service from Shayna daSilva. Durkin made a move down the wing, beat a Deerfield defender and then placed the ball into the side netting for the 1-0 lead. 

"I'm just so eager to get us a scoring opportunity, if it's me or one of my teammates" Durkin said. "I just want to get as many opportunities as I can. I really don't think about it and just go to the goal. I was just running and just took the shot."

The Wildkits' Jocelyn Leigh added the first of her two goals in the 30th minute. The Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match scored after taking a pass from teammate Madeline Varela.

"I really thought our connections were really good," Leigh said. "I think there was a lot of energy with Senior Night. We all connected very well up-top and in the midfield. There were so many great assists. 

“At this point, I think we've played together for a long time now. So, we kind of know what works. I feel like we're able to figure out what each player likes, whether if they want to play with space, whether they want to make runs. It's all about knowing who you're playing with. I just think we've figured it out more."

Leigh finished her brace in the 44th minute off an assist from Durkin. She fired home a 25-yard try.

"I guess that I've been playing for a while," Leigh said. "I've done it so many times that I just hit it that way."

Adriana Merriam added the two other Evanston goals. The first came in the 52nd minute on a header after a serve from Molly Riley. 

Then, Merriam added the team’s final tally four minutes later with Madeline Ball's help. 

"I think it's the chemistry that makes this team go," Merriam said. "We did a lot of team bonding and stuff that helped our chemistry. It really helped us connect on the field. Before we weren't able to do those triangles, and now it's something we do that’s routine. I just think that everyone has that high level and everyone wants to compete.

"It's something that we stress a lot in practice -- one-two touches, moving the ball, triangles and all of that. It's definitely how we have played. The girls see that.

“They've come from high-level clubs. We do know how to play that way, and we know that we can do it. We just stress it in practice and on the field. We also watch film, and we're able to identify what we're doing well and what we're doing not that great."

Deerfield, which sits at 12-5-1 and is ranked 25th in the Chicagoland Soccer poll, had several chances to score but could not convert.

"It's not exactly expected for the North Division team to win," Deerfield coach Rich Grady said. "This game has been around since 2012. The South Division team has won every year except 2016, when we beat Evanston in PKs. The game went to PKs in 2015 when we lost to New Trier. 

“It's part of the fairness of asking schools with 1,500 students to compete against schools with twice that number or more."

By playing Evanston (enrollment 3,558), Deerfield got a chance to see what they can do against an elite Class 3A team. 

"We learned a lot about what we need to do to compete against top teams," Grady said. "Obviously, I hope it will help us, but time will tell on that. 

“The biggest concern coming out of the game is our health. We lost two starters during the game, one to a nasty foul."

As for the match itself there were some moments that the Warriors were able to get some things to go their way. 

"I thought we played well for large parts of the first half," Grady said. "But we made a couple of mistakes, and the game got away from us quickly. The best players for us were Emily Fox, who worked hard but didn't get much service, and Maddie Stevens, who won a number of individual duels (on defense).

The Warriors have a busy finish to the regular-season. They travel to Grant on Thursday and host Warren on Friday. 

Deerfield is ranked second in its 17-team sectional behind Carmel. The second season starts May 16 against Mather at the Ridgewood Regional.

Evanston, the top seed of its 17-team sectional, will train up to its state tournament debut at Young on May 16. The Wildkits will play the winner of Von Steuben and Maine East.

Starting lineups

GK-Lauren Gottlieb
D-Marissa Siciliano
D-Sophia Peiser
D-Madeline Stevens
MF-Simone Criz
MF-Emily Fox
MF-Sara Goldstone
MF-Jessie Fisher
MF-Avery Kingsepp
F-Ryane Emory
F-Bella Krummenacher 

GK-Ariel Kite
D-Anna Bergmann
D-Molly Riley
D-Brigid Mulvihill
D-Jordin Kadin
MF-Mia Darer
MF-Sydney Ross
MF-Shayna daSilva
MF-Eva Francis
F-Adriana Merriam
F-Lily Shure

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Jocelyn Leigh, jr., F, Evanston

Hannah Shesaiber (center), Sargun Odishu (AR); Paul Etzinger (AR) 

Scoring summary

First half
Evanston-Bridget Durkin (Shayna daSilva) 14
Evanston-Jocelyn Leigh (Madeline Varela) 30

Second half
Evanston-Jocelyn Leigh (Bridgit Durkin) 44
Evanston-Adriana Merriam (Molly Riley) 52
Evanston-Adriana Merriam (Madeline Ball) 56