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Game story: North Shore Country Day’s 2nd half comeback stuns Lake Forest Academy 

By Michael Wojtychiw, 04/19/24, 12:30PM CDT


Raiders respond to 2-goal deficit, earn 1st league win

WINNETKA -- When North Shore Country Day and Lake Forest Academy met in their Tuesday afternoon Independent School League match, it was not only a case of teams looking to win their first conference game, but also an opportunity to spark their offenses.

What ensued, other than a steady, heavy rain for the game’s first 40 minutes, amounted to offensive outbursts from each club. 

Lake Forest Academy came into the match with four goals to its name, scoring twice each in two games against Woodlands. North Shore Country Day (2-2-1, 1-0-1) had scored a combined three goals in four games. Both teams equaled a previous total, but the host Raiders came away with a come-from-behind 3-2 win in a game they hosted at the Skokie Playfields.

“I like that we just kept going,” North Shore Country Day manager Rebekah Kauffman said. “We didn’t worry about the score. We didn’t press. We just tried to go one goal at a time.”

The Raiders know that if they hope to have continued success this season, being able to put the ball into the back of the net is something they need to do. 

Following the win, it’s also something that the players believe they do.

“We’ve got a great team spirit among our girls,” North Shore Country Day’s Reese Meyers said. “We’ve got such great positivity. Everyone is giving their all; everyone is motivated. Whether we score or not, we keep moving forward.”

“Once we got our first goal, it was all about using that momentum,” Alexia Conine added. “Getting that first and then the second goal was all about motivation, because all we needed was one more.”

Not only was the game an important one for North Shore Country Day, it was a big for Conine. She scored a game-winner on her first high school goal.

The freshman took a pass from Meyers in the 73rd minute and was able to put it away to cap the Raiders’ comeback and deliver her team’s first win in more than a month. 

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “It’s, something we’ve been working on where I’m in the box, and Reese passes it, And it paid off.” 

Despite the outcome, North Shore Country Day was up against it for a majority of the match.

Lake Forest Academy (0-5-1, 0-3-1) controlled large portions of the first half and put a lot of pressure on North Shore Country Day keeper Izzy Greenstein. At the same time, the Caxys’ defense prevented the Raiders offense from getting much going.

The visitors’ efforts were rewarded in the 22nd minute and gave them a 1-0 lead. Under the canopy at the field, their thrilled supporters were energized by the rare advantage.

In a spirited halftime speech, manager Paul Makovec told his club how proud he was of their play. It resonated with the squad, and, sophomore Jenna Gilani gave her team, soccer’s dreaded two-goal cushion in the 50th minute. 

It was thereafter that North Shore Country Day awakened and got to work.

First, Daisy Stone got in on the action on a ball loose in the box after a Zahra Omar pass to halve the Raiders deficit in the 60th minute. 

Within a minute, Meyers putting her shot above the Caxys keeper’s outstretched arms for a tied match.

“I saw two defenders coming at me, and I knew I had limited time,” Meyers said. “What I had to do was I had to cross the body, get an open look and just take it and not spend too much time on the ball to get it taken away.”

There was one major reason for the Raiders turnaround in the second half, according to Meyers.

“We adjusted our positioning in the second half,” Meyers said. “For me, as a winger, we were told to push up more as forwards.”

“We really just talked about trusting your teammates to do their job, so you can do your job,” Kauffman said about her halftime speech. “We kept getting in each other’s space, and that was taking away from what we wanted to do.

“If you trust your teammates to do their job, it’ll help open up the game, so we’re not so  compact.”

North Shore Country Day knows what it has to do construct a streak.

“Getting the conference wins early is a momentum builder,” Kauffman said. “How can we string great practices and great games together? It’s all about setting ourselves up the best way we can, so we’re prepared to take on our conference opponents.”

“We really just have to remember what we go through in practice,” Conine said. “Continuing to spread out, knowing to get to our positions and communicating on the field.”

The Raiders continue their road conference run with three-consecutive road conference matches The span begins against Willows on Friday at Maryville Academey; April 23 at Woodlands and April 26 at University (Chicago). Lake Forest Academy is off until a nonconference home match with Rockford Christian Life on April 25.

Starting lineups

Lake Forest Academy
Pending receipt of roster

North Shore Country Day
GK: Izzy Greenstein
D: Isabel Roberts
D: Margaret Fitzgerald
D: Alana Duffield
D: Zahra Omar
D: Dixie Oelerich
MF: Marina Bullock-Puzon
MF: Reese Meyers
MF: Callie Zhao
F: Kate Connolly
F: Daisy Stone

Chicagoland, Sccer MVP of the Match: Alexia Conine, fr., MF, North Shore Country Day

Scoring summary

First half
Lake Forest Academy - (no. 17), 22nd minute

Second half
Lake Forest Academy - Jenna Gilani, 50th minute
North Shore Country Day - Daisy Stone (Zahra Omar), 60th minute
North Shore Country Day - Reese Meyers (unassisted), 61st minute
North Shore Country Day - Alexia Conine (Meyers), 73rd minute