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Game story: Yoo’s late PK stop gives Stevenson tie at New Trier

By Michael Wojtychiw, 04/07/24, 11:15PM CDT


Soph keeper comes up big for 1-1 draw in Malnati’s opener

NORTHFIELD -- Stevenson came into its Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic opener knowing that its opponent in the first pool-play game, New Trier, was going be tough to handle. 

The Trevians, ranked sixth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, have a number of players who are going to play in college and hold a 27-1 edge over their opponents this season in goal differential.

But none of that mattered after sophomore keeper Reese Yoo made a huge save on a penalty kick with about five-and-a-half minutes remaining that helped the Patriots secure a 1-1 tie on the road Saturday.

“I was honestly shocked I saved it,” Yoo said. “Prior to her shooting it, I saw her step back and open her body so I knew she had to go to one side, and I read her all the way through.

“It was still surreal.”

Stevenson manager Jay Bulev was happy with what he saw from his squad.

“It was a great performance. We knew coming in, we would need to do a lot of defending, a lot of shifting side to side and pressuring their team to go backward or sideways,” he said. “We matched them physically. We were competitive; we battled. 

“We knew that with all that defensive work, we would get one or two good chances to score. We got it at the beginning of the second half. (Forward Ellie Egeland) made a great play.”

The Stevenson defense withstood all but one test. It especially felt the pressure in the first half and closing minutes of the match.

New Trier challenged Yoo three times in the first half in addition to watching two shots go just wide of the goal. The keeper made two more saves in the second half and saw a shot go just over the crossbar with a little under a minute-and-a-half remaining.

“We did a lot of preparation. We worked around what we knew coming into the game,” Yoo said about her squad’s defense. “But I think the main thing is our mentality. Even going into this, everyone is nervous, but everyone knew we would put in 100 percent effort.

“As a goalie it’s really good to know that your defense will stand tall in front of you. My centerbacks especially have me. I know that they’ll step up when they need to, and they’re always talking. The outside backs are constantly working and also listen to the calls we make.” 

Even though his team didn’t take away a win, New Trier manager Jim Burnside was still encouraged with the things he saw from his squad.

“They (Stevenson) had a plan, and they executed the plan,” he said. “They took away some chances we may have had, but we had chances. I like that we created chances. It’s not a game we were without opportunities; we’ve all been a part of those. We had a couple more, but creating opportunities is a good first step. 

“We did a good job of that. It’s just about getting the ball to go our way.”

After not seeing much traction in their offensive third or putting a lot of pressure on keeper Annie Fowler, the 19th-ranked Patriots (3-2-1) were finally able to make break down the strong New Trier defense.

University of Maryland recruit Ellie Egeland took a beautiful pass outside the center of the box and slotted the ball past Fowler in the 43rd minute.

“Ashley (Liang) has probably had most of my assists and a lot of goals are her through-balls,” Egeland said. “When I saw her get the ball, we both knew I was going to make that run. She timed it perfectly; it was a slip-ball through. 

“I knew I didn’t have to even look up, I knew where I was. The goalie was going to come out so I didn’t have time. I one-touched it, and it went in.”

“At halftime we just said we need to pick our moments,” Bulev said. “We said we were going to defend in the middle third and not extend ourselves too deep.

“We said to the forwards, you just have to pick your moments. If you can go and put some pressure on, just go. If not, wait for them to cross.”

“Being tied (0-0) at half gave us momentum and the mentality that ‘Ok, we’re in this,’” Egeland said. “I think everyone was a little shaken up before the game knowing how good they are. We didn’t have many chances, but we knew if we worked on and pressured the ball, we’d have them.”

New Trier has never shied away from playing freshmen on the varsity level. This year’s squad has five on the roster, many of whom play key minutes.

Frosh Addy Randall starts in the Trevians’ midfield. She likes to work on the outside to get down the wings and cause havoc. That’s what she did to the Stevenson defense numerous times.

“I try to use my speed, because if I keep pushing the line, then I can drop back and get the ball or a through-ball in,” Randall said. 

One of those times paid off a little over two minutes after Egeland’s goal when she took the ball from a Stevenson player and drove toward the goal.

“I looked for it wide, trying to get balls starting wide so I could drive in,” she said. “I drove in. I had gone end line the first couple of times I got the ball, so I knew I had to cut in, because they wouldn’t expect it.

“So, I went back post and went with my left foot. I’m not as confident with my right foot, but I got in close to goal.”

With the match tied and the New Trier momentum surging, Stevenson dug in.

“From that point on, we knew we would be fighting for our lives to defend, because they were going to be on us wave after wave,” the Stevenson manager said. 

The Patriots did not abandon their offense, however. After Egeland’s goal, Fowler, New Trier’s freshman keeper, stepped up numerous times, making five second half saves to keep the Patriots at bay.

Burnside was happy with how his rookie keeper recovered from the goal.

“She’s a freshman, but she played a great game, positioned herself well,” the New Trier manager said. “It’s a tough position to play. You’ve got to bounce back, because you’re going to get scored on. 

“But I thought she did a good job, read the game well and did what she needed to do to make sure we weren’t giving up more chances.”

The two teams went back-and-forth, like one would anticipate in a matchup of top 20 teams. 

“We really just played team defense,” Burnside said. “We want to identify their strongest players, most dangerous players and just play good team defense.

“We’re not going to change too much based on others. We’re going to play our game. We’ve got a good group, and our defenders did a good job.”

That last, best chance in the 75th minute came when Randall again took a ball down the wing and cut it inside as she headed toward the goal. 

This time she was taken down in the box and earned a New Trier penalty kick. Noble stepped up to take the kick, but Yoo made the save to keep the score equal.

“I can’t explain how disappointed I am with (awarding of) the penalty kick,” Bulev said. “It looked like a really good tackle from our center mid. 

“It looked fair. The girls thought it was fair. For our goalie to make that save, it was just phenomenal. It lifted us up the last five minutes.”

Both teams now prepare for their second pool-play games on Monday. Stevenson heads to Grayslake Central, while the Trevians host no. 10 and undefeated Lane.

Both squads know what they need to do. Pool play ends Wednesday; semifinal berths are on the line Thursday.

“This is a really big step for our confidence,” Egeland said. “We’re hoping to win the group. Every year we advance to the semifinals, so that was our mentality this year to get there again.

“We’ve really gained a lot of chemistry so far. … Our defense has been really strong so far, and we’ve shown we can compete with everybody.”

New Trier’s Burnside likes where his club is at.

“I told the girls we’re going to be just fine,” Burnside said. “We didn’t lose. We’ve played nine games now, and we’ve given up two goals. 

“We’re learning to play together. But we’ve also got to understand that every team is bringing their best. We can’t ever take a day off. We’ve come a long way from the first couple days of the season.”

Starting lineups

GK: Reese Yoo
D: Anabelle Egeland
D: Alexa Karagrannis 
D: Grace Harper
D: Kelsey Krull
MF: Madison Olsen
MF: Emma Mendoza
MF: Ashley Liang
MF: Ellie Egeland
MF: Sammie Meliker
F: Morgan McKelvey

New Trier
GK: Annie Fowler
D: Kennedy Colegrove
D: Clara Deliduka
D: Basie Shannon
D: Honor Dold
MF: Josie Noble
MF: Sybil Evans
MF: Addy Randall
MF: Annie Paden
F: Charlotte Dellin
F: Jaime Elias

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Reese Yoo, so., GK, Stevenson

Scoring summary

First half
No scoring

Second half
Stevenson - Ellie Egeland (Ashley Liang), 43rd minute
New Trier - Addy Randall (unassisted), 45th minute