By Jared Birchfield
WHEATON – St. Francis coach Jim Winslow and Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family coach Brian Kibler had different motives when they agreed to Thursday’s match, a late addition to their schedules.
Winslow planned the contest as a break in the team’s routine by letting reserves play most of the match while Kibler viewed the competition as way to gauge his squad’s development over the season.
St. Francis regulars staked the team to a 2-0 lead before beginning to yield the pitch to the reserves. The Spartans offense continued to produce for a 5-0 win.
St. Francis (11-4-0) dominated play in the first half and built a 4-0 lead at halftime.
Chesterton Academy’s defense was further strained when sophomore goalkeeper Clare Sullivan had to leave the contest. Still, the Lisle school played a more even second half,.
“When Chesterton reached out to get in an extra game, I thought the kids would rather have being able to play with the starters playing for 20 minutes, than another practice. The perk was all the kids got to play tonight. The seniors got to play a ton,” Winslow said. “It was just to break up the monotony that comes at this time year.”
“(St. Francis) is a school that we wanted to be able to play against to see where we are in the landscape of soccer. These are good matches for us to set bars,” said Kibler, whose school is recognized by, but not a member of, the IHSA. “We normally don’t get these opportunities so we’re grateful for the chance. We actually did a lot of really good things that we haven’t been able to do in other games.”
St. Francis wasted little time, 34 seconds to be exact, to get on the scoreboard. Ella Wozniak raced Sullivan to a loose ball in the upper right corner of the penalty box. Wozniak beat the keeper and crossed the ball to Megan Maertens. The freshman corralled the pass and buried the ball into the back of the net.
Sophia Roszkowski made it 2-0 at the 35:07 mark of the first half. The junior captured a Saints’ goal kick in Chesterton Academy’s side of the pitch and sent a 25-yard blast into the goal.
Wozniak increased the lead in the 13th minute. The junior dribbled up the right sideline and punched the ball in from 20 yards.
Roszkowski and Carley Sitar were the first two Spartans regulars to finish their nights, leaving the pitch in the 15th minute.
Maertens notched the first brace of her varsity career at the 21:26 mark of the first half, tapping the ball in from just outside the goal box.
“Yes, I feel pretty good about that,” Maertens said about her first two-goal match.
The freshman spent most of the second half on the sideline.
“It was fun,” she said. “I enjoyed it, because I got to talk to everyone and watch all my other teammates play.”
Sullivan was injured trying to stop Maertens’ second goal. Senior Michelle Dziak took over in goal, her first time between the pipes.
“Michelle has never played goalie before, but she offered to do it,” Kibler said. “That showed so much leadership from a senior.”
Dziak, who made nine saves, earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor.
Chesterton Academy was unable to mount much of an offense. The Saints’ best chance in the first 40 minutes came at the 29:41 mark.
Nora McCormack raced to a loose ball in the St. Francis penalty box, but keeper Hannah Blaha scooped up the ball before the sophomore could take a shot.
The second half opened with nine Spartan starters watching the action from the sidelines. Wozniak enjoyed the break.
“It’s like getting a fresh start and getting a new perspective,” she said. “It was good seeing everyone connect who may not always have a chance. I always love to see them play. It was just fun.”
Molly Marks scored St. Francis’ second half goal in the 65th minute. The freshman dribbled into the box and finished a shot from 15 yards.
Marks just missed a 2-goal match. Two minutes later, she fired again from inside the 18, but Dziak deflected the ball.
Chesterton Academy’s best scoring opportunity in the second half came in the last two minutes of play.
St. Francis’ Maggie Ellis battled for the ball in the far left corner off the pitch and knocked it out of bounds to set up a Chesterton Academy corner kick. Francesca Wool’s boot was knocked away by the Spartans defense.
Chesterton Academy (2-3-3) upped its game in the second half, according to Kibler.
“We gave them time and space (in the first half), and they were able to do what they like to do with the ball. In the second half, we did a better job of closing the space down and made it challenging for them,” Kibler said “Obviously they made some lineup changes too, which helped us by bringing the game to a level which we’re a little more used to playing against.”
St. Francis did get whistled for eight offside calls, but Winslow did not see that as a negative.
“In the beginning of the season we weren’t getting any,” the Spartans coach said. “One of the things we’ve tried to get these girls to understand, if you’re doing your job when you’re playing up-top, you’re going to be offsides sometimes. So that was good.”
Winslow liked some things he saw in the last 40 minutes.
“I was pleased in the second half with the three kids that played in the middle – Claire (Andrezejewski), Sasha (Roszkowski) and Molly (Marks),” he said. “We’ve played them more and more together because they connect and play very well.”
Although Chesterton Academy only has an enrollment of 160, it does not have a hard time filling its roster. However, fillings its schedule is a different matter.
“More than half of our students play sports; many of them are multi-sport athletes. We also have a JV soccer team as well,” the Saints coach said. “We’re the only team in our conference (Illinois Christian) that has girls soccer. Most of them play softball. We don’t measure ourselves in terms of the conference. We just tried to get games against as many teams as we can in a nonconference setup.”
Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family
GK: Clare Sullivan
D: Elizabeth Beto
D: Michelle Dziak
D: Lucy Jansen
D: Margaret Sullivan
M: Caylee Hamilton
M: Mary Houska
M: Ava Severance
M: Francesca Wool
F: Faustyna Kielar
F: Lucy Summers
GK: Hannah Blaha
D: Ella Schroeder
D: Stephanie Sullivan
D: Alyssa Suriano
D: Carley Sitar
M: Shannon Brown
M: Sophia Roszkowski
M: Clare Andrzejewski
F: Paige Chrustowski
F: Megan Maertens
F: Ella Wozniak
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Michelle Dziak, sr., D/GK, Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family
SF – Megan Maertens (Ella Wozniak) 1st minute
SF – Sophia Roszkowski 5th minute
SF – Ella Wozniak 13th minute
SF – Megan Maertens 19th minute
SF – Molly Marks 65th minute