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Game story: Lane lets loose in 2nd half vs. Grayslake Central

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 04/07/24, 9:15PM CDT


NORTHFIELD — Pressure takes many different permutations in the course of a game.

The kind Lane applied to Grayslake Central was unyielding.

The Champions, ranked 10th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, also knew instinctively they were capable of reaching another gear.

“I think our mentality in the second half was we just switched it on,” Lane forward Grace Carman said. 

“We moved the ball a lot better. I thought we were getting trapped during the first half in the center of the field, and we were not really taking advantage of the gaps they were giving us.”

Carman ignited a four-goal second half flurry with a 43rd-minute masterpiece in the Champions’ 5-0 Group A victory in the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic on Saturday at New Trier.

“We just said during the first five minutes, we were going to come out and get a goal,” she said.

Lane (7-0-0) held a 25-3 advantage in shots. The advantage almost went for naught in the first half before a 40th-minute epiphany.

Senior Tai Williams took a through-ball on the right edge, drove the side and played a perfect cross to sophomore forward Lily Bishop.

Bishop found herself uncovered and blasted home her first varsity goal, a 12-yarder, with under a minute left before the break.

The relief of the Champions was palpable.

“Scoring like that at the end of the first half definitely loosened us up and settled down our nerves,” Carman said.

“We want to do well in this tournament. We want to win, so that felt good going into the second half with that goal.”

Grayslake Central (1-2-2) felt confident coming into the game. Offensive stars and midfielders Dahlia Rodriguez and Sara Armstrong, had two goals and two assists apiece in a 7-0 victory over Lake Forest Academy on Thursday night.

But the Rams have one of the most daunting group schedules of any of the 12 teams in the field. 

They are matched with the Champions and no. 6 New Trier, their opponent Wednesday.

Grayslake Central will host no. 19 Stevenson on Monday.

“That was a tough game,” Rodriguez said. “Lane was a really good team, and they had an amazing touch.

“In the first half the girls and I held our own until about the last 30 seconds. I felt like in the second half we went in with our heads down and little mistakes caused those goals.”

Rams freshman keeper Karlee Santner recorded her first varsity shutout against Lake Forest Academy. 

She stood tall and showed great composure against the Lane attack throughout the first half.

Santner stopped a hard liner by Carman in the eighth minute, and made two diving stops before the break. She finished with eight saves.

Grayslake Central is a young Class AA team playing up at a higher level of competition.

“We are excited this year,” coach Keith Andersson said. “We have nine returning starters. We are very excited about what this group can do. We started seven underclassmen last year.”

Lane returns seven starters from its first team to reach a sectional championship game last year.

Two elite former club players are now part of the mix in senior forward Abby Snowden and senior midfielder Jennifer Rodriguez.

“Jenny and Abby have come into this team, and really broken out and been really good,” Carman said.

“They’re easy to play with. Other players are getting more playing time, and just destroying it. Everyone’s working really well, and that just comes from communication on the team.”

Even with Rodriguez away at a college recruiting trip at the University of Wisconsin on Saturday, the Champions were fast, propulsive and unrelenting against the Rams.

Carman is the gold standard in the city, coming off a glittering sophomore year where she punctuated her standing as the city’s top player with a four-goal performance in the 2023 Chicago Public League Tournament championship victory over Jones.

Despite missing two of the Champions’ first seven games, Carman is back to her old tricks, showing explosive footwork, a great finishing touch and terrific vision.

She had two goals and an assist in the Champions’ 3-1 victory over Niles West.

Lane has a 35-3 goal differential on the year. Its most impressive victories are comfortable 3-0 triumphs over perennial Loyola and Glenbrook North.

Snowden, who contributed a goal and assist in a win over the Niles West, collaborated with 
Carman in the electric second half start.

Lane broke the game open with three goals in an eight-minute stretch.

In the 43rd minute, Snowden controlled the ball on the right wing, and played a quick ball to Carman, who was about 16 yards from goal.

Carman took a single touch and smashed a beautifully curving ball in the upper 90.

Moments later, two-way standout Jessica Carlson, who played more in the back Saturday with Rodriguez out, maneuvered out of a pack and slotted a ball to midfielder Luzmarie Razo.

Seeing Santner off her line, Razo scored on a beautiful ball inside the far post from about 12 yards in the 45th minute for her second goal of the season.

“Like Grace said, I just felt like the first five minutes of the second half we came out really strong,” Razo said.

“After Grace scored, the entire dynamic changed. We were pressing really hard and everybody was getting out there. I just felt like we really wanted to win this game. We did a great job shutting them out.”

Junior keeper Cynthia Waller, an All-State Watch List player who powered the Champions’ stunning sectional victory over top-seeded Evanston last year, posted her fifth shutout of the season.

Carman created the opportunity for the fourth goal. After her steal inside the box, she was clipped from behind, which resulted in a penalty kick.

Midfielder Kristi Sevova punched home the spot- kick inside the far post in the 51st minute.

Sevova is the anchor of the Champions, a physical, dynamic and thrilling talent who helps connect all the disparate parts.

“We work very hard as individuals, and we’re all working very hard as a team,” Sevova said. 

“I think just focusing on our play and our training, and just building up our energy and our confidence is really helping us grow as individuals.

“It’s really showing on the field when we have girls like Tai or Lily making a big impact with that first goal today.”

Grayslake Central tried to weave some offensive threads with Rodriguez and Armstrong.

Madison Hoffman, a big two-way threat who draws on her excellent size to lead the defenses, generated the best scoring threat after a throw-in. Her shot from about 18 yards went just left of the frame.

For much of the game, the Rams reacted to what the Lane offense was doing offensively and never fully countered.

The signs of a solid offense are there for the defending co-champions of the Northern Lake County Conference. Armstrong was the league Player of the Year and also earned Watch List appraisal.

She is quick, heady and dynamic with the ball. Rodriguez is a superb secondary playmaker and finisher.

At the top of the attack, Ava Ramsey and sophomore Lily Hartmann also showed the ability to create their own pressure.

“All props to Lane, they played well,” Rodriguez said. 

“Personally, I believe the team and I need to get better in finding the attack through the midfield, but I know that will come with time and practice.”

Lane sophomore forward Caitlyn Shane showed off the Champions’ depth with the final goal in the 73rd minute.

Williams again played the through-ball. Shane flashed explosive speed to knife past a defender, and squeeze a shot past Santner from about 17 yards.

Carman, an all-state forward last year, continues to accumulate individual honors. She earned Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match recognition.

On Monday, Lane returns to take on rival New Trier, who staged a comeback win over the Champions in group play last year and ended the city school’s season with the 1-0 sectional championship loss.

Starting lineups 

Grayslake Central
GK: Karlee Santner
D: Kate Kruse
D: Allison Armstrong
D: Madison Hoffman
D: Jordan Sutter
MF: Dahlia Rodriguez
MF: Mallory Barrows
MF: Sara Armstrong
MF: Ava Henne
F: Ava Ramsey
F: Lila Hartmann

GK: Cynthia Waller
D: Alyssa LoVerde
D: Austin Anstee
D: Olivia Tinucci
D: Jessica Carlson
MF: Luzmarie Razo
MF: Kristi Sevova
MF: Riya Jain
F: Jackson Caffey
F: Grace Carman
F: Abby Snowden

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Grace Carman, jr., F, Lane

Scoring summary

First half
Lane—Lily Bishop (Tai Williams), 40th minute

Second half
Lane—Grace Carman (Abby Snowden), 43rd minute
Lane—Luzmarie Razo (Jessica Carlson), 45th minute
Lane—Kristi Sevova (penalty kick), 51st minute
Lane—Caitlyn Shane (Williams), 73rd minute