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Rebmann, Libertyville ruin Fremd's night

By Mike Garofola, 05/28/23, 2:30PM CDT


Senior's double ends Vikings season in 2-0 sectional title win

NORTHBROOK -- Top-seeded Fremd exited the postseason after a heart-breaking 2-0 loss to Libertyville on a gorgeous Friday night at William Lutz Stadium. The second-seeded Wildcats advance into the New Trier Supersectional on Tuesday against the host Trevians (23-3-1).

Second-seeded New Trier outlasted upset-minded no. 5-seed Lane 1-0 in the Evanston Sectional final Friday night.

Fremd (17-4-1) came into the Glenbrook North Sectional three days after it fended off Stevenson in a 2-1 semifinal victory with the hope of claiming its first sectional crown since 2011.

"We didn't play our best against Stevenson, and to be honest, we haven't been our best since the playoffs began," said senior Hanah Rosen, who was part of a stingy backline which became better and better as the season went on. “This team has so much fight, heart and desire, I always felt we could get the result we came here for.”

Gemma Gillespie, Maddie McMillan, Bella Scesniak, Rosen and sophomore Lia DiGirolamo were all key figures in a Vikings unit along the back that helped keepers Riley Goettsche and Emily Gordon combine for eight clean-sheets while making life miserable for opponents when they ventured into the Fremd final third.

"Make no mistake, Libertyville is a very good team," said Vikings manager Steve Keller, who will lose just four from his first 11 Friday night. “They made us pay for a mistake early on. After that, we fought hard to get back in it, but it always felt like we were fighting an uphill battle that they eventually won.

"The girls are heartbroken, especially the seniors who are extremely distraught right now and blame themselves for this loss. But when they have time to reflect, they will remember that we had a terrific season and came further than we could have ever expected. They should all be very proud of that achievement."

Libertyville (17-2-2), perhaps still riding the emotion of its dramatic 4-3 double overtime victory over Hersey on Tuesday, could not have received a better start to this contest when Ellie Rebmann stunned the Vikings with her opener in the eighth minute.

That's when the senior ran onto a long ball from keeper Kate Hopma that was allowed to hit the floor untouched. The bounce went to the ever-opportunistic Rebmann who did the rest. She beat a pair of challengers before a sublime touch for her 20th goal of the season sent the Wildcats faithful into orbit.

"Just a huge goal for us," said junior defender Maddy Kopala with a wide grin.

Sophomore Shannon Phillips and central defender teammate Mabelle Kosowski drew high praise from manager Daniel DePaz for their fine work in keeping Vikings freshman star and goal-scoring leader Gwen Zimmerman from finding the back of the net.

"No. 24 (Zimmerman) is such a great talent. She is so quick and fast on the ball," said DePaz, who last year watched his club defeat host Glenbrook North to lift the sectional trophy. “When she turns to goal, she is really dangerous. But Shannon, and Mabelle kept her under control. To be truthful, I can remember only one or two at the most attempts on Hopma, none of which were of quality.”

Rebmann, who has defensive experience from her club team, echoed her coach’s observations.

"The real key to this win was the work from our backline,” she said. “Shannon and Mabelle were great in keeping Zimmerman from turning, creating and going to goal all night.

"Erin Kelly and Kopala, our outside backs, were terrific also. Especially in the second half when (Fremd) was playing so direct and just putting balls back at us. That forced our backline to clear either with a touch or in the air with head balls."

That defense, along with just enough offense, made the difference.

"We got caught flat and ball-watching. We lost track of no. 24 (Rebmann) who took advantage of our mistake," said Keller.

Brimming with confidence, Libertyville created a pair of deep throws. One was parried out of the area with a nice one-touch effort from Scesniak in the 31st minute. The other came when Erin Kelly was sent through after a nice piece of combination play from Molly Koch, Jenna Krakowski and her freshman sister Shea, but it was ended by the foot of Gillespie. 

While the North Suburban Conference champions enjoyed most of the possession before, and after the Rebmann strike, it was industrious, hard-working Fremd that won a higher percentage of 50/50 balls, both in the air and on the floor. Most came when Keller switched to a 4-4-2 formation just before the half hour.

This advantage led the Vikings to six first half corners and another six deep throws. They failed to create quality efforts on frame until the 37th minute when a deep ball from Scesniak onto the foot of Gillespie was saved by Hopma, who correctly sensed trouble in advance of her challenge off her line.

Despite having to soak up more pressure in its own end than it would have liked, Libertyville was still able to put a scare into their opponents when the opportunity presented itself. Usually that happened when the ball was on the foot of Rebmann.

"We started to play with more purpose and put a lot more pressure on them before the half,” said Rosen. “It's too bad we didn't put one in before the half."

Keeper Emily Gordon kept Fremd in the game just a short time after the intermission. Her stunning spot-kick save on Jenna Krakowski in the 42nd minute came after referee Jay Weis thought Libertyville sophomore Tess McGormley was run over from behind inside the box.

Keller protested the call in vain, then celebrated the sensational Gordon save which kept his club from going two goals down.

"Chasing a 2-0 game at that point, even though early, would have been difficult. That save from Gordon was big for us," said Keller.

The heroics appeared to instantly turn up the volume of intensity. Each challenge, both in the air and on the floor, became more crisp and voracious. That led to more whistles, free kicks, deep throws and end-to-end action.

Fremd was dangerous when Scesniak sent a looping early ball out of the back that Zimmerman had eyes for, only to see Hopma charge off her line to collect the ball in the 54th minute.

Minutes later, Pru Babat played a lovely ball to Koch that forced Scesniak to step in and clear it out of harm's way.

Shannon Phillips super-glued herself to Zimmerman in order to stop the Viking from turning at the top of the box, but in doing so she conceded a corner. Fremd couldn’t capitalize.

Libertyville defended a trio of inward-swinging corners off the left foot of Rosen before finally clearing the area. Then the Wildcats wrestled back control of the ball for a counter that ended with Jenna Krakowski calling Gordon into action with a half-chance in the 71st minute.

"We defended a lot of corners and throws as a team really well in the last 15 minutes," said Phillips. “When Ellie scored that second goal, it relieved some of the pressure on us.”

"We pressured them in their end a lot in the second half, but we never were really dangerous in the final third," admitted Keller.

Rebmann, who returned from club to play her final year of high school soccer, put a dagger in the hearts of the Fremd faithful when a marvelous early ball into the center from McGormley found her on the run.

The lethal Wildcat finished with a masterful, low touch the opposite way that Gordon charged off her line to cut the angle in hopes of persuading Rebmann's attempt to go wide.

With now its two-goal advantage five minutes from time, Libertyville sat in a little deeper. It sent balls out of the area and took an extra moment or two on throws until the final whistle.

"We were pushing numbers and got caught on their second goal, but we had no other choice at the point in the game," began Rosen.

"Playing with confidence was something we struggled with at times this season. (We) had so many young and new varsity players who had to learn how to play at this level. They did really well and were one of the reasons that we had the success we had this year. The future looks bright for Fremd soccer."

"Our seniors were great leaders who led by example all year long," began Keller. “As you can see, they are just devastated by this loss.

"Kaitlyn Roti, Leah Saxe, and Rosen gave so much to this program. Our two juniors in the back Gemma (Gillespie) and Bella (Scesniak) both set a great example and will be leading us next year.

"It was a fair result tonight. But with that said, I am very proud of my team, which has been so much fun to be around this entire season."

Starting lineups

Fremd (4-3-3)
G- Emily Gordon
D- Hanah Rosen
D- Gemma Gillespie
D- Bella Scesniak
D- Maddie McMillan
M- Kaitlyn Rodi
M- Cami Tofilon
M- Gwen Zimmerman
F- Ava Catherall
F- Leah Saxe
F- Lily Mayer

Libertyville (4-4-2)
G- Kate Hopma
D- Erin Kelly
D- Mabella Kosowski
D- Shannon Phillips
D- Maddy Kopola
M- Molly Koch
M- Pru Babat
M- Jenna Krakowski
M- Tess McGormley
F- Ellie Rebmann
F- Shea Krakowski

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Ellie Rebmann, sr., F, Libertyville

Officials: Jay Weis (referee); Peter Stavropoulos (assistant); Rommel Benjamin (assistant)

Scoring summary

First half
Libertyville: Rebmann (Hopma), 8'

Second half
Libertyville: Rebmann (McGormley), 75'


Libertyville: 6
Fremd: 2

Shots off
Libertyville: 2
Fremd: 4

Libertyville: 1
Fremd: 0

Corner kicks
Libertyville: 2
Fremd: 11

Libertyville: 12
Fremd: 10

Yellow cards
Libertyville: 1
Fremd: 1