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Game story: Fenwick earns measure of revenge vs. DeLaSalle

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 03/20/24, 2:30PM CDT


Roche sets up goals in 2-1 GCAC Red victory

RIVER FOREST — Motivation is hard to quantify, and easy in retrospect to see as a deciding factor.

DeLaSalle and Fenwick have developed a sharp rivalry the last couple of seasons. The teams faced off in Class AA supersectional championship games the past two seasons.

Fenwick won two years ago, and DeLaSalle exacted its revenge last season with a 2-0 victory after a brace from Chicagoland Soccer all-state forward Mia Ortega. The Meteors earned their first state trophy in program history last spring.

The Fenwick players needed no reminders of the recent past.

“I definitely think coming into this game, we knew it was a revenge game for us,” Fenwick forward Grace Kapsch said. “They had everything to lose, because they beat us in that supersectional game.

“Playing on our home turf, I felt like we had the advantage, and we knew what their strengths and weaknesses were. We were able to exploit those.”

Fenwick midfielder Fiona Roche created two spellbinding set piece assists that proved the ultimate difference in the 2-1 victory in Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red Division play Tuesday at Priory Field.

Ranked second in the Chicagoland Soccer Class AA Super 7 poll, Fenwick (2-0-1, 2-0-0) scored the two goals in bookend, strategically vital sequences, at the end of the first half and the start of the second half.

DeLaSalle entered the conference opener imagining a cover had been superimposed over their oppositions' goal. 

The Meteors (0-4-0, 0-1-0) suffered three shutout losses in the City-Suburb Connect Invitational against high-level Class 3A competition during the opening week of the season.

DeLaSalle entered the game not having scored in 240 minutes of playing time. Something had to give.

“I think it’s a process,” said sophomore forward Dixie Zamago, who earned CS All-State Watch List recognition last spring after scoring 11 goals and distributing four assists.

“We lost some players; there are some injured players, and we have new players. I think we just need to get more comfortable with the team and learn more about each other. I really think we can overcome these challenges.”

Fenwick returns the bulk of its team from the supersectional qualifier, with two significant changes. One is the loss of midfielder Maddie Rogowski, who opted not to play. 

The happier side is the return of senior midfielder Caroline Henige.

When her older sister, two-time Chicagoland Soccer All-State forward Kate Henige, was a senior two years ago, the pair powered the Friars’ state run. Caroline Henige earned Watch List recognition for her play as a sophomore.

Back after a year on a club sabbatical that helped earn a scholarship to Marquette, Caroline Henige brings power, finesse, speed and a sharp physical presence to the middle of the attack. That has made Kapsch, Fenwick’s all-stater last year, all the more dangerous and inviting a target.

“Last year I played a really big role,” Kapsch said. "Now with Caroline, she’s able to facilitate in the middle, which gives me a lot more opportunities, and basically everyone else as well."

A standout basketball player, Kapsch combines size, power and an accelerating burst in the final third. Several times during the first half, she got behind the Meteors.

The first half was about movement and form. The Friars enjoyed the bulk of possession, while DeLaSalle created some intriguing counterattacks and pushes off turnovers.

The electric Ortega created several intriguing attacks throughout the first half, creating pressure on the Friars’ back and finding channels or openings in space. 

Imani Coleman, another Watch List talent for the Meteors who had double-figure goals and assists last year, has been operating as a holding midfielder. She used her size and physical power to slow down Kapsch and/or Henige.

The back and forth of the teams’ playing styles created some sharp competition and fine drama.

Ortega showed no ill-effects from playing with protective goggles after she suffered a broken nose in the opening game of the season against Hinsdale Central.

“I just feel like we need to work more as a team together,” Ortega said. “I felt like these games we had last week were a really good challenge, something we haven’t really experienced with the losses like this.

“This game today, or the previous ones, don’t specifically define who we are as a team. We made some mistakes today, and we’re going to learn from them for the future.”

Fenwick had an apparent goal in the 16th minute nullified by an illegal touch.

If Kapsch and Henige drive the attack, others have vital roles. Roche has emerged as a significant playmaker and shot-creator in her own right.

She changed the outcome of the game with some brilliant play binding the two halves.

In the 37th minute, she seized on an illegal touch by the Meteors outside the box on the left flank. Awarded a free kick, Roche served a perfect ball that midfielder Lizzie Brunick deflected off her body for the opening goal.

Roche followed up soon after play restarted with a beautiful corner kick from the right edge. Freshman forward Bella Gray controlled the send with a touch and smashed it home from about 12 yards for a 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute.

“Over the past four years, I’ve really been practicing with my coaches about getting the ball over the mouth of the goal like that,” Roche said. “Especially this year, I’ve been asked to step up and just be an offensive spearhead and take charge.

“I’ve been practicing a lot with Grace, always trying to find her head, or just see what works best so that we can get the best result. I think both of those goals just showcased what we can do, and how much work we’ve put into the season.”

Roche earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor for her outstanding play.

The goal by the long and lanky Gray, a precocious freshman, was the first of her prep career. At nearly 5-foot-10, she utilized her size to great effect, walling off a defender and getting the necessary space to unleash her shot.

“I’ve been kind of surprised how many minutes that I’ve gotten so far, because I wasn’t necessarily expecting it,” Gray said. “I thought I’d be on the bench more. I just try to continue to help the team as much as I can and work as hard as I can.

“I also play volleyball, and I’m one of the taller players on the field, and that helps out a lot.”

Though down, DeLaSalle did not fade away.

The Meteors put together their most impressive 30-minute stretch of the young season in response to the Friars’ attack. 

In the 49th minute, Coleman smashed a free kick about 45 yards that took a sharp sideways bounce. Zamago bolted past Fenwick keeper Mimi Camille Carvalho for the first touch.

Her goal breathed new life into the Meteors and marked a psychological breakthrough. The hardest act in soccer is scoring, and DeLaSalle needed a boost.

“It felt great to finally get something behind the ball,” Zamago said. “I’m very encouraged by how we played today. You really saw how our team didn’t give up, even after those first couple of games we had last week. 

“Those were some rough games, but it encouraged and motivated me to see what we have, keep fighting for the ball and trying to score.”

The Meteors were clearly energized by the goal and created pressure until the closing seconds. Midfielder Kennedi Carpenter pushed up-top in the second half and made some sharp forays to the Fenwick goal.

Midfielder Samantha Velasco also created some intriguing shots. Ortega had a final shot with a ball off a Velasco free kick in the closing seconds that just sailed over the top of the bar.

“That goal really helped us push more,” Ortega said. “Even though we lost, you could feel this is a real rivalry now. 

“I feel that we just need to continue playing hard and connect better, and improve our chemistry, and the goals are definitely going to come.”

Starting lineups

GK: Ana Perez
D: Lauren Lo
D: Lauren Torres
D: Tatiyana Davis
D: Itzel Salgado
MF: Imani Coleman
MF: Kennedi Carpenter
MF: Samantha Velasco
F: Sara Murray
F: Mia Ortega
F: Dixie Zamago

GK: Mimi Camille Carvalho
D: Kiera Mullarkey
D: Finley Dondlinger
D: Gabi Kapusta
D: Kiera Kapsch
M: Mary Brunick
M: Fiona Roche
M: Susie Shank
M: Caroline Henige
F: Bella Gray
F: Grace Kapsch

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Fiona Roche, sr., MF, Fenwick

Scoring summary

First half
Fenwick—Lizzie Brunick (Fiona Roche), 36th minute

Second half
Fenwick—Bella Gray (Roche), 43rd minute
DeLaSalle—Dixie Zamago (Imani Coleman), 49th minute