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Game story: York defense stands tall in road win over Jones

By Michael Wojtychiw, 03/16/24, 1:45AM CDT


Though left in the dark, Dukes post 2nd-straight shutout win

CHICAGO -- The lights at Jones’ Near South Side field, behind the National Teacher’s Academy, are scheduled to go off at 8:15 p.m. 

Thursday’s game against York was scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Jones coaching staff recently was given access to adjust the time the lights go off. However, they forgot to change the time to allow for a longer period of time for the game to take place.

So, when the lights switched off with four minutes remaining in York’s 4-0 win in the second round of the City-Suburb Connect Invitational, it kind of symbolized the type of soccer the Dukes’ defense had played.

Lights out.

“It’s all credit to how strong our backs are,” York forward Hannah Meyers said. “They work so hard. Knowing that we have a freshman (Catherine Carter) back there, I haven’t seen a freshman play that well in a long time. It’s amazing how they’ve done.”

“We’ve got a bunch of returners in the back, led by a number of seniors,” York manager Stevan Dobric said. “The combination of them and some young talented players have really been able to stifle offenses early on.”

The Dukes’ defense played so well that the Eagles (0-2-0) didn’t manage to put a shot on goal and had only one corner kick on the night.

Two games into the early season, the Eagles have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net. Jones has been shut out by 4-0 scores in both games, but those results have come against tough West Suburban Conference Silver Division programs Downers Grove North and York, which is ranked 27th in the Chicagoland Soccer First 50 preseason poll.

Jones manager Derek Bylsma is happy with the changes he saw from game one to game two. 

“I was happy with how we played today,” Jones manager Derek Bylsma said. “They’re a very good team, with some very high-quality players.

“We’ve got a young squad with five freshmen on varsity, and some players in key spots are new. I thought we played better team defense. It’s hard to outwork a team like that. The goal we gave up in the first half was unfortunate.”

Both teams had to battle the late Chicago winter elements. When the Dukes lost the coin flip to start the game, it put them in a position they weren’t hoping for -- playing against the wind. 

“The girls came out with a lot of energy,” York’s manager said. “It was really windy to start the match, and I thought the girls held strong with the heavy wind on us. They created chances, and we capitalized before the half turned.”

Whether the weather played a part in it or not, for York, it was still able to get a number of shots off and forced Jones sophomore goalkeeper Ruby Miller have to make numerous plays to keep her team in the game.

The visitors finally broke through in the 26th minute when DePaul-bound Sophia Musial put a ball past Miller.

“We knew we were going against the wind,” Michaela Quinn said. “Our strengths are our outside wings with their speed, but the wind was holding us back with those players trying to do so much.”

After only converting once in the first half, York came out looking like a new team in the second half.

“We talked about playing to our strengths, getting the ball to each other’s feet, spreading the field a bit more,” Dobric said. “We wanted to create those combination plays to create different chances in the final third.”

DePauw commit Meyers got in on the action four minutes into the second half when she got in the box and scored.

Seven minutes later, Meyers, who earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor, scored again off of a corner kick from Quinn.

“On the corner, they weren’t moving much in the box,” Meyers said. “Once you start moving around on the corners, that’s something we’ve been practicing, and our coach keeps telling us getting some kind of touch on it was all we needed.

“I really just drew my defender into the middle on the first goal, a great pass by Sophia, and I just tapped it in.

“It makes my job easy when my teammates set me up like that.”

The number seven seemed to be big for York. Another seven minutes later, Quinn scored off of a scramble in the box to end the scoring.

“It was kind of a whirlwind in the box,” she said. “Ava Hannsmann crossed it in. I knew that she collided with the goalie, so I had the entire goal open. I took a little outside touch, wrapped around her and got my shot off.”

Both managers see positives in their teams so far but also know that there are still things they need to work on.

“We really just want to build on the successful things we’ve done: our defensive posture; creating chances; working together as a group,” Dobric said. 

“I always view the two weeks before Spring Break as a preseason, and then you hit the grindstone when you take on all those conference opponents.”

Bylsma will continue to hone his team.

“We’ve had some positives and some negatives,” he said. “You see a team like York, and when they’re looking for the ball, they’re getting into you physically and checking for the ball. Our players have a tendency to float at times.

“So, I think we got better on that tonight. And our team defense has gotten better. We had multiple players come together to play defense and support each other on the ball.”

The City-Suburb Connect Invitational concludes Saturday. Jones faces another tough test at no. 19 Hinsdale Central. York meets Class AA power DeLaSalle on the road.

”We’ve really done a good job of building our team chemistry,” the Dukes’ Quinn said. “We have a lot of returning players, but we’ve also got a number of new players who haven’t been in the program and adjusting with those girls has gone really well.

“We have a really strong bench, so that’s helped us a lot. We know our strengths and come out knowing what we have to do to succeed.”

For Jones, the goal will be to put the ball in the back of the net. But their manager knew that would be the case when he put together the schedule he did. He knew the tough opponents will help his team prepare for city play and beyond.

“Every year we start out with these teams and do it intentionally, because it exposes us and tells us what we need to work on,” Bylsma said.

“Once we have a chance to come together and learn how each other plays, we’re better. The key in these games is: What do we learn; How do we get better and understand there’s a purpose to why we play these games?”

Starting lineup

GK: Ava Lewandowski
D: Catherine Carter
D: Mia Pretzie
D: Mia Barton
D: Ava Hansmann
MF: Tatum Mailander
MF: Stella Kohl
MF: Jordan Ebner
F: Hannah Meyers
F: Sophia Musial
F: Michaela Quinn

GK: Ruby Miller
D: Morgan Theilke
D: Alyssa Ramos
D: Karina Teliz
D: Ellie Ceraso
MF: Olivia Bahrmasel
MF: Audrey Dziedzic
MF: Pauline Morro
MF: Celia Pincus
F: Aiyana Wright
F: Kaelyn Perez

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Hannah Meyers, sr., F, York

Scoring summary

First half
York - Sophia Musial (Tatum Mailander), 26’

Second half
York - Hannah Meyers (Musial), 44’
York - Meyers (Michaela Quinn), 51’
York - Quinn (Ava Hansmann), 58’