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Game story: Warren's 'second season' starts with win at Carmel

By Bobby Narang, 04/07/24, 2:00AM CDT


Comeback 2-1 victory leaves Blue Devils feeling upbeat

MUNDELEIN -- Warren entered Friday night’s soccer game at Carmel in dire need of some success.

The Blue Devils failed to score a goal against St. Joseph’s Academy (Missouri) and O’Fallon in consecutive losses on a road trip over spring break.

Several players framed Friday’s game under the lights as the “second season.” The Blue Devils started slowly, but kicked it into overdrive in the second half to post a 2-1 come-from-behind victory in the host Corsairs’ Baker Stadium.

The Blue Devils (3-4-0) picked up second half goals from Alex Brock and Addison Stanciak. Keeper Emma Magerle finished with four saves. 

Carmel senior forward Anna Hartman scored the lone goal for the hosts in the third minute. Corsairs sophomore goalie Maron Bowes helped keep the Blue Devils from scoring in the first half with six saves. She pulled off two amazing stops in the final six minutes of the frame.

Warren senior defender and captain Reece Mertens credited her team’s resolve for pulling out the victory.

“I’m so proud of how we played today,” Mertens said. “We have kind of started off a little rough this season. We said this was the start of our second season, and we came out and played hard. Our mindset was to be strong. We all were on the same level and really wanted this win.

“I think we have been really working on our mindset and staying positive. We didn’t put our heads down after they scored the first goal. That made us even more eager to win. That helped us get through for the win.”

Not only did Mertens play a big factor in the victory, she managed to keep her lengthy finger nails from breaking throughout the physical 80-minute nonconference game.

“I’ve always played with them; I’m the one who has the claws,” Mertens said, breaking out in a hearty laugh on the warm, spring evening.

Warren senior Mia Gloria expanded on her team’s shift in philosophy, which coincided with their first game of April.

“I think we all enjoy playing Carmel, and it’s always a big part of our season,” Gloria said. “We all came out here and wanted it. Our backline played really well. We kept composure today, … and our team stayed together. The offense worked really hard. Like Reece said, we started our second season and really came out and fought for this win.

“We started our season little rocky, but … everyone is really focused and ready to win our games and work for each other. Watching our winning goal, I think I knew Addison’s shot was going to go in. She was right there off the corner. She just tapped it in.”

Warren junior defender Mya Martinek said the Blue Devils showed toughness by holding the Corsairs scoreless in the final 77 minutes. 

“For us to be down 1-0 at the very start of the game, to come back and beat them 2-1 is really big for us,” Martinek said. “It’s really big for us to win this game. I think it’s about energy. We started off with weaker energy, until we got into it. We had bench players hyping us up. People on the field hyping us up. Our energy on the field helped us through it.”

Carmel (0-4-1) has been stung with a bit of misfortune in the first month of the season. The early goal from Hartman, who has endured two knee injuries in her prep career, provided some early fuel.

The Corsairs star senior forward said she’s happy to be playing. She endured a pair of rough patches Friday that led to some concern in the stands. 

In one, the 2022 Chicagoland Soccer all-stater fell hard on the turf in the 55th minute. She laid on the ground for a few minutes, but ended the anxiety when she yelled out “I’m fine” Hartman, who helped lead Carmel to the Class 3A state basketball championship in her sophomore season, did not play basketball this season due to her most recent knee surgery, which occurred last summer.

“We showed we are capable of keeping up with the bigger schools,” Hartman said. “We talked about it. The two times we got scored on were off corner kicks. If you look just at the play of the game, we won. But set pieces have been a trend this season. We have to do a better job of staying on our marks. It stinks to lose, but it’s encouraging we can stay with these bigger schools.

The Carmel goal was a family affair.

“It was off a throw-in. My sister Josie headed it, and I could just see it coming,” Anna Hartman said of the goal. “I was like, ‘This is easy. I just have to kick it in.’”

The game held a special meaning for Corsairs senior forward Peyton Carney, though she would’ve preferred a different outcome.

“They are a very physical team, and we definitely gave it our all,” Carney said. “I used to go to school at Warren. I transferred here in my sophomore year, but I never actually played soccer for them because I played club soccer.  We’re not hanging our heads. We know we are capable of winning games. It’s just a matter of time.”

Carmel senior defender Jillian Miller said the backline did a great job of keeping the Blue Devils off the scoreboard for the first 61 minutes, though allowing two goals off corner kicks stung.

“I think the weather also hasn’t been in our favor,” Miller said. “We’ve had to practice indoors, so we’ve been focusing on possession, and we’re doing better in that department. But on set pieces and things like that, we definitely need to improve, and that’s something you have to do outside with a real goal. We will work on that.”

Warren’s offense hinted at a breakout in the second half. It bore fruit with  Brock’s game-tying tap-in in the 62nd minute. 

Then Stanciak, a high-scoring player who committed to Saint Louis University in August, whiffed on a close attempt in the 63rd minute and then missed on two shots in the next 87 seconds. Undeterred, she broke through with the game-winner with 7:25 left in the game. 

Carmel’s Carney almost tied the game, but Magerle snuffed the chance with a nifty save in the 75th minute.

Stanciak, a 2023 all-stater and the Chicagoland MVP of the Match, said Friday’s game was a good way to start April.

“Today’s game definitely had some misses, especially right in front of the goal,” Stanciak said. “It could’ve changed the game earlier on, but once I saw that ball on the goal come on, I knew my opportunity was there. It bounced around in the box. I knew it was go time. We have to get everybody together healthy and give it our all.”

Carmel coach Stephanie Kile said her team is aiming for a bounce back.

“I was proud of the girls despite the outcome,” Kile said. “It was great. We got the goal right off the bat. We talk about that all the time, and we capitalized. Unfortunately, the game didn’t go our way. 

“We’ve got some things to work on, specifically dead balls. They capitalized on two dead balls, so props to them. That’s something we have to go fix. We’re looking for our first win to get some things going. 

“Despite the result, they battled hard for all 80 minutes. I think this is great for momentum moving forward. Hopefully we can learn some things.”

Kile made a point to praise Bowes and Miller.

“She (Bowes) really has improved a lot, and her confidence has improved from last season to this season,” Kile said of the keeper, who also plays for Carmel’s highly regard basketball program. “She was on JV last year. Being able to play a lot of games on JV helped her confidence increase. She has great hands and great reaction time. She saved our butt a bunch of times. 

“Jillian Miller has been outstanding. She’s one of the most consistent players I have in terms of being physical for all 80 minutes.”

Warren coach Ryan McCabe said his team was thrilled to pull out the victory.

“I thought we played a really good brand of soccer, and pressured them quite a bit and had quite a few opportunities in the first half, but there were just near-misses,” he said. “Credit to Carmel, they created some shots early and got some opportunities and got that one in early. 

“Overall, I think both teams played a really good style of soccer. It was a fun game to be a part of, but I was glad to see us get the win. Spring break was nice; it allowed us to heal up and recharge. We were eager to get back in a game. 

“We will take the rest of the weekend to recover and will be hitting it hard next week. It was nice to see the girls get the game in. Our backline was solid. A lot of our attack started from our backline being able to win the ball and being able to distribute. That kind of set the pace for the attack. Our backline had two assists with Reece and Mia. It flowed from the back.”

Starting lineups
GK: Emma Megerle
D: Maya Martinek
D: Mia Gloria
D: Jelly Amezquita
D: Reece Mertens
MF: Kate Mondejar
MF: Elise Weidemann
MF: Sofia Ogren
MF: Kimberly White
MF: Gwen Zajack
F: Addison Stanciak                                                                                                  
GK: Maron Bowes
D: Bella D’Amore
D: Mila Schachelmayer
D: Morgan Pitcher
D: Jillian Miller
MF: Ema Delgado
MF: Josie Hartman
MF: Peyton Carney
MF: Norah Belmonte
F: Katherine Anen
F: Anna Hartman
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Addison Stanciak, jr., F, Warren

Scoring summary
First half
Carmel:  A. Hartman (J. Hartman), 3’
Second half
Warren: Brock (Amezquita), 62’
Warren: Stanciak (Mertens), 73