OAK LAWN -- After Reavis defeated Richards 3-0 Tuesday afternoon at Korhonen Field to conclude South Suburban Conference Red Division play with a 6-4-1 record, the Rams had to play a waiting game to see if they would win the conference outright, share the championship with front-runner Eisenhower or see their run end.
That's because the league-leading Cardinals had home matches against Oak Lawn on Tuesday evening and versus Lemont on Wednesday. The possible outcomes were: a sweep by the Cardinals would deny the Rams of a share of a third-straight Red Division title; a split would result in a shared title; and two losses would give Reavis the outright championship.
Eisenhower defeated Oak Lawn 4-3 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Blue Division champion Lemont wrapped up its undefeated,untied run through conference with a 6-0 win at Eisenhower.
Reavis (8-9-1) had put itself back in a position to make school history with a third-straight division title by winning its last three league matches. After back-to-back 3-2 defeats against Oak Lawn and Eisenhower in late April, the Rams claimed crucial wins against Shepard (1-0, May 2) and Argo (3-1, May 4).
Junior Olivia Smycz put the Rams in charge against Richards in the eighth minute. Junior Ruby Ramirez scored a goal in the 29th minute and then another one in the 62nd minute to give the team their seventh win in the last 10 matches. The group plays a friendly at 6 p.m. Thursday at Oak Park and River Forest in their regular-season finale.
Ramirez, who had only scored one goal prior to the match, earned Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honors for her brace.
After getting a win in its season-opener in its own Windy City Ram Classic, Reavis lost its next six matches before a draw put its record at 1-6-1. The Rams late run gives them hope as they face a tough playoff opener against Glenbard West on April 17 in the Class 3A Lyons Regional.
"The girls finished the season strong," Rams coach Konrad Dziedzic said. "It was a tough start, but we had our goals and vision set and the girls pulled through it. They never gave up and gave it their all, and it showed in the last 10 games.
"We have good momentum going. Thursday will be a great preparation since OPRF has played both Glenbard West and Lyons. I feel like getting that test and seeing where we stand will help us to prepare and work for May 17.
Having 14 seniors on the squad, including many who played together before they began their careers at Reavis, helped lead to the strong finish. The team hopes their connection will make them a dangerous opponent in a brutally tough regional. Host Lyons (18-1-1) is ranked sixth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25; the Lions most recent win was 6-0 victory over Glenbard West on Tuesday.
Reavis has only advanced to one regional final (2018) in the past eight seasons. Glenbard West has won regional titles the past two seasons.
The Richards win was the Rams’ sixth shutout of the season and second in the last three matches. The visitors only allowed the Bulldogs (3-12-1, 0-10-1) to get a few good attempts against senior goalkeeper Jayda Hobson. Leading the way on defense were starters seniors Emily Chavez, Jade Guzman and Alexandra Mendez and sophomore Marlene Gutierrez.
"Right now, we're all happy because we got this win, which is what we needed," Guzman said. "We're happy to share (the title). We're the first girls program in history at Reavis High School to go back-to-back-to-back as conference champions. This was very exciting for us.”
Dziedzic added: "I told the girls that I knew that they wanted to change the girls program at Reavis and have us on the wall as back-to-back-to-back champions. My girls have always stuck together. Even when we go down, we play as a team. (The coaches) tell them that we have to keep our heads up. I like that we stay strong as a team and don't let weaknesses pull us down."
Richards received a good performance from freshman goalkeeper Gwenyth Fortier, who has only played in a few matches this season. She came up with several big stops to prevent Reavis’ from building its advantage.
Smycz was unassisted on the game-winner in minute no. 8. Juniors Alyssa Juarez and Jasmine Juache also threatened with good scoring chances during the initial 20 minutes of play.
"At the beginning of the season, it was kind of a slow start," Smycz said. "But then we slowly picked it back up. A few weeks ago, we had a rough week where we lost two games. But we picked it up the next week and started winning again.
"OPRF is going to be a good matchup for us to prepare us for playoffs. I feel like we have to work extra hard in that game to show us the chances that we'll have against Glenbard West. I like that we have good connections, and we work together well."
Reavis kept the pressure on in the final part of the opening half as Juarez and senior Paulina Graca both sent shots toward Fortier.
Then in the 29th minute, Ramirez scored her second goal of the season when she got a pass from sophomore Erica Divizio. Her shot deflected off a defender and into the net to make it a 2-0 match.
Not long after that, Smycz was denied on a long free kick. Then Juache was thwarted by Fortier to keep the score at 2-0 at the intermission.
Some of the best opportunities early in the second half were a corner kick from Smycz that found junior Alaina Hernandez in front. Her try was stopped, as was a long attempt from Juarez a bit later.
Afterward Richards had one of its best chances after a corner kick -- Olivia Jeziorczak lined her shot toward the net only to see Hobson deflect it. Reavis responded with a shot from senior Yamileth Torreas that was blocked by a defender and a Juarez offering just wide prior to the hour mark.
Ramirez collected her third goal and second of the match in the 62nd minute with a shot over the keeper’s head from about 25 yards after Juarez sent a pass her way.
Attempting to get a hat-trick in her biggest scoring performance of the season, Ramirez was just wide on another try and was denied on a late attempt. Divizio also sent in a shot that was deflected, and Torres had another good try that was cleared by a defender.
"We were struggling in the beginning of the season," Juache said. "But we worked during practice and got everything together. We had conversations with our coaches and the girls on our team, and I feel like that helped our team so much.
"I like the bond and the relationship that each of us have. We're all so close with each other."
"I've been playing with some of these girls since I've been in middle school,” said Ramirez. “It's really sad saying goodbye to them. We have that bond, and it helps a lot in games. What I like the most about us is how we help each other and push ourselves to play better."
GK - Jayda Hobson
D - Emily Chavez
D - Jade Guzman
D - Alexandra Mendez
D - Marlene Gutierrez
MF - Olivia Smycz
MF - Jasmine Juache
MF - Alyssa Juarez
MF - Emilia Kuca
F - Alaina Hernandez
F - Yamileth Torres
GK - Gwenyth Fortier
D - Natalie Gargasz
D - Mia Guzman
D - Caroline Turwon
D - Khloe Montelongo
MF - Wiktoria Potenta
MF - Rea Beka
MF - Ava Calderon
MF - Juliana Khoury
F - Olivia Jeziorczak
F - Savannah Vahl
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Ruby Ramirez, jr., MF, Reavis
Reavis - Olivia Smycz (unassisted), 8'
Reavis - Ruby Ramirez (Erica Divizio), 29'
Reavis - Ruby Ramirez (Alyssa Juarez), 62'