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Westol finds right touch, New Trier ousts upstart Lane

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 05/27/23, 4:15PM CDT


Trevians forward scores on 3rd try for 1-0 win and supersectional berth 

EVANSTON — New Trier’s Nora Westol is one of those players who is skilled and crafty, yet her talents have a way of sneaking up on you.

You don’t realize how good she is until after she was better than you.

The range of possibilities in a huge game often crystallize to a single matchup. This one had three acts.

The first electrifying moment between Westol and Lane keeper Cynthia Waller came in the 52nd minute.

Westol appeared poised to score a textbook goal off a cross, but Waller made an extraordinary sideways leap for the deflection.

“I was already resigned at the moment to the fact they scored there,” Lane coach Sean Harkness said.

A couple of minutes later, the New Trier senior forward rushed a quick volley and smashed her shot over the bar.

“I got open twice, and I missed both times,” Westol said. “Their keeper was really good, and she made a great save.

“It’s all about finding what works, and I knew that I could get open. I just said why not keep going until it works. As soon as I saw the cross, I knew that was the one.”

Westol beat Waller to the send from Honor Dold and rifled home the short volley that gave New Trier a 1-0 victory in a Class 3A Evanston Sectional championship game Friday before a massive crowd of about 1,200.

The game-winner came in the 67th minute. Dold, a defender, won the ball on the right flank about 30 yards out.

She made a quick stutter step and launched the ball into the box.

In the bang-bang sequence, Waller broke off her line. Westol beat her to the ball a split second earlier.

The second-seeded Trevians (23-3-1) won their 10th-straight game and punched their ticket to the supersectional they host. The opponent Tuesday will be Libertyville. The no. 2-seed toppled top-seeded Fremd 2-0 in the Glenbrook North Sectional championship.

New Trier defeated Lane for the second time this season. The Trevians also captured a 3-2 comeback victory on April 12 during group play of their Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic.

“This feels really great, because last year we got knocked out of the sectional semifinals by Evanston,” Westol said.

“Lane was really good. They are a team we were very excited to play, because they are super-competitive. After last year, we wanted to make a difference, change the legacy and have a bit of redemption.”

Lane (15-5-2) made history even in defeat. 

The Champions, who won their eighth-straight city tournament championship this spring, played in the first sectional championship in program history.

Lane’s 1-0 upset over top-seeded and host Evanston was the program’s first sectional semifinal win.

Sophomore Grace Carman has flashed superstar potential as the next great Lane player in the tradition of Scout Murray and Zehra Halilic.

She surpassed the rare 20-20 mark with a team-high 21 goals and 20 assists.

After scoring two goals and an assist in the city championship over Jones, Carman scored at least one goal in each of the Champions’ first three state tournament games.

Her classmate Waller, a 5-foot-11 basketball player, has come into her own this season. She had 12 saves against Evanston.

Her opposite, New Trier sophomore Caroline Hague, was also fantastic.

She did not yield a goal in 180 minutes of play in the sectional round and posted her third shutout of the tournament.

She followed up her double-overtime masterpiece against Loyola with sharp and distinctive play.

Hague had seven saves. She stopped a hard ball from the left wing by Avery Ellis in the fourth minute.

Carman and midfielder Mary Rau also had some dangerous moments. Carman had a free kick from the 22-yard line in the 19th minute that forced Hague to make a sharp, athletic denial.

Lane’s best scoring-threat played out in the 26th minute when gifted freshman Jackson Caffey blasted a ball from about 27 yards. It bounded off the bar.

“I think it was a matter that we needed to maximize our opportunities and create more chances,” Rau said.

“I mean the goal they had wasn’t anything super spectacular. I thought it was just terrible with the margin so small.”

After Lane’s victory vs. Evanston, the greatest win in program history, the team was confident.

“We fully thought this was a winnable game,” Rau said. “It was obvious on the field that it could have gone either way. 

“We were ready to leave it all on the field.”

The Trevians feature college commits in Purdue recruit Lida Dodge and Carleton enrollee Lauren Caldwell.

Their attack is very egalitarian. Caldwell scored the game-winner against Loyola in the 97th minute Tuesday.

Westol scored her 12th goal of the year and earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor for her excellent play.

The momentum cleared shifted about the 50-minute mark. New Trier had more sustained pressure and possession.

“(Jim) Burnside always says put the ball in dangerous places and things will happen,” forward Josie Nobles said.

“We kept looking for those opportunities.”

New Trier’s weapons include Dodge, Caldwell and Annie Paden in the middle attack. Westol, Nobles and Sybil Evans are fast and dangerous at the top.

The team has forged its own identity.

“I feel like as a team, we really came together,” Evans said. “At the beginning, we made a list of goals and things we wanted to achieve.

“We realized it might take some time and be a bit of a roller coaster ride. We have these traditions we do before each game that helps bring us together. At the end, we are going to get to where we want to be.”

The back-and-forth and counter movements created some exhilarating soccer.

Carman had a shot from about 24 yards in the 49th minute that Hague denied.

Waller was just exceptional the whole night. She flashed crazy reaction and anticipation skills. 

Off a Paden corner kick in the first half, she leapt and stabbed the ball out of the air.

“It was tough. She played so well the last couple of games, and I really thought it was going to take something really exceptional to beat her,” Harkness said.

“It ended being a kind of ricochet situation, but she has grown so much, really gotten used to playing in these big arenas, the big moments.”

Lane began the year finding its offensive identity after the graduation of Murray and some of its top threats.

The team was shut out in its first three games.

With Carman, Rau, Ellis and Kristi Sevova, the team found its identity. 

“Our sophomores have been been our best players this season,” Rau said. “I’d say five of our top six players are sophomores.

“They have literally run this field, and I am incredibly proud of them.”

Lane made a huge leap.

“After New Trier scored, there were 17 minutes left, and I thought of how we have risen above adversity the whole year,” Harkness said.

“I was confident that we’d score, because that is how we have responded this year. We came up a little short tonight.”

Looking ahead, the supersectional is a rematch of two years ago when Libertyville ended a New Trier run of six-consecutive state finals appearances.

New Trier, Lane, Evanston and Loyola all played in the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic.

Libertyville’s only two losses of the season came against Naperville North and Evanston in pizza pool play.

“I know people say that playing teams for the second time is harder, because they know your strategy,” Evans said.

“For us, this is a second chance to beat them and a second chance at redemption.”

Starting lineups

GK: Cynthia Waller
D: Alyssa LoVerde
D: Olive Tinucci
D: Leila Chapman
D: Eleanor Nagle
MF: Kristi Sevova
MF: Jessica Carlson
MF: Mary Rau
MF: Grace Carman
F: Avery Ellis
F: Riya Jain

New Trier
GK: Caroline Hague
D: Kennedy Colegrove
D: Clara Deliduka
D: Laura Vassallo
D: Honor Dold
MF: Annie Paden
MF: Lauren Caldwell
MF: Sadie-Grace Richardson
F: Sybil Evans
F: Josie Noble
F: Nora Westol

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Nora Westol, sr., F, New Trier

Scoring summary

First half
No scoring

Second half
New Trier—Nora Westol (Honor Dold), 63rd minute