PALATINE — On May 30, the Class 3A New Trier Supersectional will feature the Evanston Sectional winner against the Glenbrook North Sectional winner with a Final Four berth on the line.
New Trier is the no. 2 seed in the Evanston Sectional. Fremd is the Glenbrook North Sectional’s top seed.
A New Trier-Fremd matchup on the day after Memorial Day would surprise few.
Their regular-season, nonconference clash at Fremd on Friday night entertained many. It pitted Fremd, ranked no. 5 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, and no. 11 New Trier.
“Do we have a treat for you,” the PA Announcer blared to the rain-soaked spectators before the start of the annual playoff tune-up for each side.
New Trier scored two first half goals, watched Fremd cut a pair of two-goal deficits to one goal in the second half and hung on for a 3-2 victory. Each club converted a penalty kick.
“It did feel like it (a late postseason match),” New Trier coach Jim Burnside said after his Trevians improved to 19-3-1. “The winner, though, isn’t going to state. But the winner tonight played for something — pride. We play for that every game.
“Fremd played with the same aggressiveness as we did. That was a good, quality high school soccer game. It had intense action.
“Even during the handshakes afterward,” he added, “you could still feel the intensity of the competitiveness.”
Friday had a little bit of everything for the rabid soccer follower, from fearless headers in traffic to dandy dribbling to superb saves to extended rushes. Coaches coached like it was a win-or-go-home game. Players played like there might be no tomorrow.
Four players, three Trevians and one Viking, emerged as Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match.
New Trier junior midfielder and 2022 Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater Josie Noble netted the first two goals of the night, including a PK in the 15th minute. New Trier senior all-everything Sadie-Grace Richardson, listed as a defender/forward on the roster but deployed as a starter at midfield on Friday night, was impactful in each third of the pitch. Trevians senior forward Lauren Caldwell, who delivered a gorgeous cross that resulted in Noble’s second goal (a header in minute 18), later gathered a headed ball from senior forward Nora Westol, raced 45 yards and then poked a shot past Vikings junior goalkeeper Emily Gordon (six saves) to up the visitors’ advantage to 3-1.
The confluence of the ball meeting exciting Fremd freshman forward Gwen Zimmerman captured the undivided attention of witnesses. She drew a foul during a dash in the box that preceded junior Gemma Gillespie’s converted PK in the 69th minute.
Fremd coach Steve Keller looks forward to facing New Trier every season on the Friday before the start of regional semifinals.
“It’s usually a good battle,” he said of his 23rd-such contest in his tenure at Fremd. “I told our girls we didn’t play our best soccer tonight, but then I pointed out that it was 3-2. We were right there with them.”
After entering the second half down 2-0, Fremd (14-3-1) tallied its first goal in the 46th minute. Vikings junior back Becca Scesniak lofted a cross that glanced off the mitts of Trevians sophomore keeper Caroline Hague (five saves). Alert Fremd freshman midfielder Lily Mayer pounced on the rebound and tapped it in from three yards to make it a 2-1 game.
Thirteen minutes later, Caldwell’s near half-pitch sprint and goal restored New Trier’s two-goal lead and eventually extended the Trevians win streak to six.
Players from both sides appreciated Friday’s encounter, mostly because it served as ideal preparation for the “second season,” aka the postseason.
“This will set us up well,” said Richardson, who puts her head to good use (smarts and winning 50/50 balls) each time she suits up. “Fremd’s aggressiveness tonight was similar to ours. They also played with our type of energy.”
Fremd saw its three-game victory streak end. The Vikings had won 13 of their last 14 matches before the defeat.
“A loss like this,” said Gillespie, “is a reality check for us. It had been a while since we played a game this physical. This was good for us. We’ll be ready to fight and play hard in the playoffs.
“We’ll have the gumption.”
New Trier’s unofficial motto for the playoff was revealed in the aftermath of Friday’s significant win.
“We want it,” Noble said.
“Yes, we want it,” Richardson echoed.
Among New Trier’s other notable performers versus Fremd were sophomore back Honor Dold, junior back Clara Deliduka and reserve junior midfielder Annie Paden.
Dold and Deliduka are reliable and savvy.
As Paden controlled the ball near the sideline in Fremd’s zone with about 10 minutes left in the first half, Burnside shouted, “Go to work! Go to work!”
Paden listened and forced Fremd’s defense to go to work too.
The effort pleased Burnside on a night when most teams were resting up for playoff pressure and grind ahead.
Rain continued to fall lightly after the final horn sounded. Neither New Trier nor Fremd will take anything lightly from here on out.
New Trier will face 15th-seeded Niles North on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in a Maine South Regional semifinal in Park Ridge.
Fremd will host Zion-Benton in a regional semifinal on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Fremd coach Keller’s daughter, Sophia, will attend her father’s alma mater, Indiana University, and study dance toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is also interested in exercise science. That she chose not to follow in her father’s cleat steps doesn’t bother him at all. “We encouraged her to follow her passion, and she did that,” he said. … Two of the ball kids working Friday’s game were fourth-graders Olivia Saxe and Violet Abhalter. Olivia’s older sister is Fremd senior midfielder Leah Saxe, who earned a spot on Chicagoland Soccer’s midseason Watch List, which was released on April 21. … Keller, on Zimmerman, another gifted booter named to that Chicagoland Soccer honor roll: “Her pace impresses me. And you can’t miss how strong her work-rate is. She can be a handful to defend.” Added Gillespie: “Gwen is fantastic.” … Zimmerman, a two-sport standout this spring, qualified recently to race as a member of the Vikings’ 800-meter relay at next weekend’s Class 3A track and field state meet in Charleston. Will she run? Or will she focus solely on soccer? “I plan to talk to (Keller) about it,” Zimmerman said Friday night.
GK Caroline Hague
D Kennedy Colegrove
D Clara Deliduka
D Honor Dold
MF Sadie-Grace Richardson
MF Lydia Vassallo
MF Josie Noble
MF Sybil Evans
F Lauren Caldwell
F Nora Westol
F Charlotte Dellin
GK Emily Gordon
D Lia DiGirolamo
D Bella Scesniak
D Hanah Rosen
D Maddie McMillan
MF Ava Catherall
MF Leah Saxe
MF Cami Tofilon
MF Gemma Gillespie
MF Kaitlyn Rodi
F Gwen Zimmerman
Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Sadie-Grace Richardson, sr., MF, New Trier; Josie Noble, jr., MF, New Trier; Lauren Caldwell, sr., F, New Trier; Gwen Zimmerman, fr., F, Fremd
New Trier — Noble (PK), 15’
New Trier — Noble (Caldwell), 18’
Fremd — Lily Mayer (Scesniak), 46’
New Trier — Caldwell (Westol), 59’
Fremd — Gillespie (PK), 69’