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Preview story: Evanston, New Trier draw the spotlight Saturday

By Mike Garofola, 04/20/24, 12:30AM CDT


Not all Central Suburban League fixtures are created equal.

Whenever the new season's futbol calendars are released, one of the very first things fans and players alike do is to circle the date of their favorite contest.

Evanston (10-0-1, 1-0-0) and New Trier (9-2-3, 0-0-2) is easily one of the most exciting, feisty and hard-fought 80-minute affairs in the spring. And Saturday is the day the high-flying Wildkits travel to Northfield to meet the host Trevians in a key South Division match at noon.

Both clubs possess an impressive array of talent, including senior stars Josie Noble, from New Trier, and Sydney Ross, from Evanston, who understand what this long-standing rivalry means.

"Evanston has had the better of things the last couple of years," said Noble, the Trevians wonderfully gifted four-year veteran who has watched her team’s league archrival claim the last three results, including a 3-0 victory a year ago.

"I know I can speak for my teammates when I say we're all excited to play Evanston at home this Saturday. That's an added bonus as well. We want to turn around the last couple of results. "

She and her teammates come into this match on the tail-end of an extremely busy run of soccer. The Evanston game is the 12th in the last 23 days. Saturday will mark the third-straight day of match-play. New Trier beat no. 6 York 2-0 Thursday and Bolingbrook 4-0 Friday to qualify for Naperville Invitational quarterfinals.

"Our depth, fitness and mental strength are being tested,” said Noble, who will play at Wake Forest next fall. “But this is easily the hardest working team that I've been a part of since coming here, and the most fun group of players that I've been around."

In the Trevians 4-5-1 formation, Noble, twice named all-state by Chicagoland Soccer, handles things at the 10.

"We like to play two wingers out-wide with Charlotte (Dellin) up-top," said Noble, who with fellow star Annie Paden helps run the show for manager Jim Burnside.

Noble said several freshmen have been a great addition to the Trevians roster. She pointed out Addy Randall as one who has made an immediate impact on the club as a complimentary player alongside Dellin.

"There's a lot of pressure playing on the varsity. Especially coming into a program like New Trier, which I remember doing," began Noble.

"(But) Addy has a great attitude, has made the transition and has shown she can play at this level and make a contribution."

Nobles' counterpart at Evanston is Sydney Ross, a four-year star and key figure in a lethal Wildkits’ attack. She said even with the 44 goals her club has scored so far, it's the backline which is a big reason for the team’s near-perfect record thus far.

"Our entire backline is new, and they have done a great job," said Ross, who scored the game-winner against Naperville North to help her club lift the championship trophy of the 6th annual Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Classic.

"Sydney Johnson has been terrific as one of our outside backs, and the play from Domilola Adeniyi, Maddie Ball and Maizlyn Kelly has really not allowed much at all," added Ross, who will play in the fall and plans to study economics at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

Ross, Bridget Durkin, Jocelyn Leigh and freshman Alex Merriam have combined for a staggering 35 goals and 27 assists. Merriman and the two-time Chicagoland Soccer All-State senior Leigh each has 10 goals.

"Alex has already made a huge impact on our team. In our attack, she and Jocelyn are really connected up-top," said Ross, who plays the 10 in the Wildkits’ 4-3-3 formation.

"Bridget is just a sophomore and has done some great things. Our attack has definitely been one of our strengths thus far."

Ross acknowledges the Trevians are a stingy bunch with just four goals conceded.

"New Trier is always one of our toughest opponents on the season,” she said. “After the last three wins, we should expect an intense 80 minutes from them," said Ross. "We all know each other from club, so that's another factor in this game.”

These two state powerhouse programs could conceivably meet once again in a sectional final here in late May. That's an added bonus as well. Though Lane and Loyola may have a say about that.

"Aside from us scoring goals, and defending really well, the thing I like about this team is that we play as a team. There's a never-give-up attitude amongst us," Ross said.