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Glenwood starts fast, spoils De La Salle’s state debut

By Dave Owen, 06/03/23, 12:15AM CDT


Meteors meet Crystal Lake Central in third place match Saturday

NAPERVILLE -- De La Salle Institute has graduated five Chicago mayors in its long history, including Richard J. and Richard M. Daley. But Friday was new territory for the 134-year-old South Side of Chicago school.

The Meteors’ Class AA semifinal match with Glenwood marked the first state girls semifinal trip in program history. But De LaSalle had little time to soak in the significance.

Just 1:23 into Friday’s Class AA state semifinal, a 25-yard free kick by Rylaan Law deflected through a crowd and into the box to Rowann Law, whose eight-yard low shot gave Glenwood (21-4-1) an almost instant 1-0 lead.

And while the Meteors (17-4-5) rebounded from the early shock to keep that one-goal difference intact for much of the half, goals off set pieces by Glenwood’s Haden Vlcek 2:12 before halftime and again just over five minutes into the second half became too much to overcome.

“Coming down to the end of the year and the playoffs, our set pieces have been spot on,” Glenwood coach Jay Lipe said. “We’re connecting better and finishing chances.”

De La Salle had its own picturesque set piece, a perfectly placed 21-yard free kick goal into the upper right corner of the net with 5:25 to play by junior Samantha Velasco. That would put the Meteors on the board, but couldn’t prevent a 4-1 Glenwood win.

“A goal of honor,” Meteors assistant coach Francisco Martinez said. “At the very least we get one in, and get some momentum going into tomorrow (for the third place game).”

Lining up at the upper left edge of the box, Velasco amazingly duplicated the result of the only other free kick she had taken all year.

“She scored one against IC Prep in a 1-0 win,” Martinez said, “and now she got another one. We’re always looking for her to shoot more. I hope that turned her around a little more. She’s such a nice young lady that she’s willing to give those (free kick chances) to her teammates.”

Said Velasco: “I usually don’t take the free kicks because I’m a winger or center mid, so I have to be in (the box) for the hit. But I decided, you know, everybody was back, so I was going to take the shot. And I scored.

“I had one free kick before, and the first one I took was a goal as well. Right here was the second free kick I’ve taken at De LaSalle.”

That perfect strike bookended a match that began with Glenwood free kick glory.

“Rylann hit a good shot,” Vlcek said. “That’s a play we’ve been working on a lot. That’s not the exact result we usually want, but it worked. Rowann did a great job finishing it and put it in the goal.”

Glenwood would keep up the heat with a huge flurry nine minutes in. Lyla Franke lined an initial shot off the crossbar, and in the ensuing scramble Meteors goalie Emily Samuels blocked a rebound try and then she and her teammates combined to clear the box.

De LaSalle answered with their first quality chance in the 15th minute, when Lauren Torres’ 34-yard free kick connected with Imani Coleman in the box for a shot deflected wide for a corner kick.

Velasco would eventually have back-to-back corner sends, the second punched out of the box by Glenwood goalkeeper Abi Stephens.

Samuels followed the earlier sequence with a less frenetic low save of a Franke 18-yard shot in the 17th minute, and defenders Joanna Mullen and Vicky Luna (blocked shot) would follow with nice plays near the box to repel later Glenwood threats.

But just as the game had settled into a fairly even back and forth (a low Samuels save of a right-side shot in the 26th minute, followed by the Meteors’ Tatiyana Davis rolling a shot wide off a 32nd minute throw-in), Glenwood found set piece magic again.

A 41-goal scorer this season, Rylann Law played table-setter again. Her left-side corner kick in the 38th minute toward the box found Vlcek, whose header into the upper-right corner made the halftime tally 2-0 Glenwood.

“They were coming at us,” Vlcek said, “and it was nice to get a goal to go into half and keep the momentum.

“We’ve been working on them (set pieces) a lot,” Vlcek added. “I feel like we were all really on.”

Lipe summed up a first half of ups and downs for his team.

“Anytime in the playoffs when you can get that first goal, especially that early, it helps your team relax,” Lipe said. “Then the other team has to come after you and maybe changes their game plan playing from behind.

“But we had to battle. They competed well and weren’t backing down. In the first half it was an ugly game, but I felt like as the half went on, we got better.

“And to get that goal at the end of the half was a big goal. We came out with a lot more confidence in the second half and knocked the ball around better.”

De La Salle’s Martinez saw an early deficit expand on a late half lapse.

“We got caught quick (on the first goal), and it made a big difference right at the very beginning in the first five (minutes). We settled down in the middle portion of that first half. But we specifically said ‘Mark man-to-man,’ and we played off the young lady we were most concerned about (Vlcek) and she is the one who buries the second goal.”

The second half started just as the first did for Glenwood.

Samuels’ leaping deflection of Rylann Law’s 25-yard right-side drive with 36 minutes left tipped the ball off the crossbar and inches from a goal.

But just over a minute later, a Rylann Law free kick from the 8-yard-line right of the box proved too tough to defend. Her send found Vlcek near the top of the box for a 15-yard laser high into the net for a 3-0 score.

“They buried a quick one at the start of the second half and that makes it 3-0,” Martinez said, “and before you know it and you kind of get stunned a little bit.

“But we reacted well and felt good about the group in there at the end. We’re happy to be here, but we would have liked to compete better. We didn’t possess, but that’s a credit to the other team.”

Velasco also tipped her proverbial hat to Glenwood.

“They were a handful,” she said. “They were really aggressive and very physical. We’re a physical team, but feeling that pressure and their physicality got the whole team a little nervous. We tried to open things up, and there was someone on us right away.”

Said her junior teammate Coleman: “We’ve definitely played better games, but it still could have been anyone’s game. I’m so proud of how we played. Everyone was working hard, and it’s a little bit hot (90 degrees). But they’re a really good team.”

Glenwood went up 4-0 with 27:43 left when Franke took a Kayleigh Meyer pass at the upper right of the box, dribbled in and somehow tucked a 12-yard liner just inside a tiny spot of daylight between Samuel and the right post.

“I think we were just ready,” Vlcek said of her team’s day. “We were excited to be here and ready to come out. I feel like we all clicked and connected well.

“And it was nice to go up 4-0 and to get some of our subs in and get some rest. It’ll be nice tomorrow (in the AA finals vs. Benet) and I think it’ll make a difference.”

Samuels and the Meteors wouldn’t go down quietly. The goalkeeper made consecutive point-blank saves with 20:10 to go on Rowann Law and Rylann Law.

Coleman followed one minute later with a 28-yard shot denied on a high catch by the Glenwood keeper Stephens.’

Then after another near miss by Glenwood in the 72nd minute (a Gracie McCombs shot off the left post), Velasco gave De La Salle a nice offensive highlight.

“It (the free kick goal) motivated me,” Velasco said. “Don’t quit, it’s not impossible. We can score three more goals. I just wanted to get another one.”

While no further comeback happened, the Meteors’ longest state run in girls soccer history will have one more game and then a state third or fourth place trophy to bring home.

“I felt like we were more nervous for the supersectional because we had never gotten to state before,” Velasco said. “So this was just ‘Let’s do our best. We already got here, so let’s give it our all. There’s another game either way tomorrow.”

Said Coleman: “Our main goal was to make it past supersectionals, because that’s where we lost last year against Fenwick. Once we got past that we were proud of ourselves, and the school was proud of us. We were more concerned about one game at a time. That’s what we did throughout the playoffs.”

Glenwood now goes for the biggest prize at 1 p.m. Saturday: the state title game vs. Benet, its first finals appearance since taking second in 2015.

“We’ve got coaching experience we can share (from 2015),” Lipe said, “but it’s going to be new for these guys.

“No matter what we tell them it’s going to be a new experience. We wanted to be playing at 1 p.m. tomorrow. We don’t care how hot it is, we’re going to be fired up and ready to go.”

Said Vlcek: “We’re all excited. This is the whole team’s first time being here, and we all work for each other. We’re all such good friends, and we all want to do it for our teammates.

“We all know if we come out and do our best it’s hard to beat us,” Vlcek added. “That’s the only thing we’re working toward, trying to be our best. And I think that’ll get it done.”

Starting lineups

De La Salle
GK: Emily Samuels
D: Sophia Torres
D: Vicky Luna
D: Joanne Mullen
D: Lauren Torres
M: Imani Coleman
M: Sissi Loza
M: Dixie Zamago
M: Kennedi Carpenter
M: Samantha Velasco
F: Mia Ortega

GK: Abi Stephens
D: Delaney Kyes
D: Carly Wilcoxen
D: Ali Matthews
D: Haden Vlcek
M: Erin Mansfield
M: Lyla Franke
M: Makenna Yeager
F: Mia O’Neill
F: Rylann Law
F: Rowann Law

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Haden Vlcek, jr. D, Glenwood

Officials: Maniusz Folta (referee), Dylan Kramer (AR1), Brad Steinhagen (AR2); Alex Kuvshinikov  (4th)

Scoring summary

First half
G: Rowann Law (Rylann Law), 2’
G: Haden Vlcek (Rylann Law), 38’

Second half
G: Vlcek (Rylann Law), 46’
G: Lyla Franke (Kaleigh Meyer), 53’
DLS- Samantha Velasco (free kick), 75’