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Game story: Wheaton Warrenville South, Batavia reach electric stalemate

By Tomas Moran, Wheaton Warrenville South student journalist, 05/02/24, 11:00PM CDT

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Teams dissatisfied with 1-1, weather-shortened DuKane draw

WHEATON -- Lightning-quick plays often define 80-minute high school soccer matches, marking the difference between victory, defeat or a deadlock. A storm loomed when Wheaton Warrenville South and Batavia faced off May 2, heightening the intense ambience and underscoring the importance of this DuKane Conference contest.

Lightning played a different role in this match. The contested was ended at 1-1 in the 73rd minute as bolts flashed across the sky.

The hosts started the game in dominant fashion, controlling possession and generating plenty of goal-scoring opportunities within the opening 10 minutes. The Tigers found the back of the net when All-State forward Ashlyn Adams received the ball on the left wing, dribbled past two defenders and found Lucy Jethani, who slotted the ball in the right corner of the Batavia goal from 10 yards.

“It was an amazing ball,” said Jethani. “(Adams) took it down line and then crossed it down front. I just took it and put it in the back post. She played a beautiful pass to me.”

Initially, it appeared that the match might be headed for a rout. Wheaton Warrenville South, ranked 24th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, continued to dictate the pace and seemed to be far more threatening than Batavia. However, the Bulldogs were able to change their fate through grit, determination and a little bit of magic.

“We were under a lot of pressure from Wheaton Warrenville South early and could have been down by more than one goal,” said Batavia head coach Mark Gianfrancesco. “We communicated and organized, then rose to the challenge. These are the ebbs and flows of the season as well as the postseason. We just need to remember that piece to build our confidence in those situations.”

Only four minutes after Jethani’s strike, Batavia forward Brianna Solis played the ball to Abi Edwards, who decided to alter the course of the game. Edwards found herself on the right edge of the home side’s box and fired a 25-yard diagonal shot from a nearly impossible angle.

“The ball was played up from our midfield area where (Solis) was able to play me just outside the (box),” said Edwards. “I was able to take a touch and shoot far post.”

Edwards’ goal not only equalized the score, but seemingly evened the playing field. It may have been against the run of play, but the Bulldogs appeared to be a different team after getting on the board. The momentum shifted, and the match was incredibly competitive from that point forward.

“I think we really had an amazing bounce back in our organization throughout the game, especially in the backline,” said Batavia goalkeeper Reagan Sulaver. “We also are starting to show a lot more promising chances up-top by breaking down the opposing team’s backline.”

In the second half, both sides had opportunities to score, but couldn’t finalize them. The defensive structures held firm, while the weather increased to become a major factor. A new lightning storm entered the area after one passed earlier in the afternoon. The accompanying downpour caused the game to end seven minutes early, which was unwelcome news for all parties involved.

“Overall, we had great energy but we started to feel some pressure,” said Sulaver. “The bench immediately reciprocated, and we were back in it again. I wish we could have finished the game off though, because we were looking very promising for another opportunity.”

Wheaton Warrenville South was left to lament lost opportunities.

“I think our biggest challenge was probably finishing,” said Jethani. “We had way more shots than them, but we couldn’t finish in the net. We had the ball, but we just couldn’t put it in the net.”

The Tigers left the match with a bitter taste in their mouths, having given up their spot in the driver’s seat for the DuKane Conference championship. The tie essentially ruined their chances of winning their first league title. 

The conference started in 2019 and through five seasons has seen St. Charles East (2019, tie; 2021 outright); Batavia (2019, tie); St. Charles North (2022-23) and Wheaton North (2024) take titles.  Wheaton Warrenville South’s best league efforts have been third place finishes in 2021-22 and 2024.

The Tigers will look to utilize this as motivation in their playoff campaign, which is where this team’s legacy will truly be defined.

“I definitely think we contained most of the game, and I think it was mistakes that got us,” said Wheaton Warrenville South goalkeeper Marilyn Dixon. “It’s definitely a learning experience for all of us. This game is gonna push us to get better.”

“I think that pressure certainly took its toll,” said Wheaton Warrenville South head coach Guy Callipari. “I think maybe what weighed a little bit heavy too was the necessity to try to get it done early because the weather was always a factor that could play in, as it did in the end.”

Meanwhile, this result was a major boost for a Batavia team that had been struggling to find momentum in the incredibly competitive DuKane Conference. Earning a tie in an away game at one of the top teams in the conference proved that the Bulldogs are contenders.

“We can take away that all of the effort can pay off and that always being ready for any situation makes us a good opponent to any team,” said Sulaver.

“That we can get better as the game progresses,” said Gianfrancesco. “We strive to play 80 minutes, but it is challenging throughout the season with all the ups and downs. We grew into the game and earned a draw against a good team.”

The ability to learn from this game and move on to improve was emphasized by Wheaton Warrenville South. The Tigers seek to make a deep postseason run, but they recognize that in order for them to achieve that they cannot repeat mistakes from the past. The season marches on, so these are lessons the Tigers must grasp quickly if they are to deliver on the promise they’ve demonstrated throughout the season.

“You’ve gotta look at the positives of where we are and what we’re capable of doing, but there’s also a learning curve and pressure showed its ugly face today,” said Callipari. “That being said, that’s what learning is. We all have to grow collectively with that process.”


Starting lineups

Batavia
GK-Reagan Sulaver
D-Addison Lowe
D-Amanda Naylor
D-Emma Stoodley
MF-Sarah Koziol
MF-Addison Schaffer
MF-Reese Recker
F-Abi Edwards
F-Addison Solomon
F-Natalie Warner
F-Emma Wecker

Wheaton Warrenville South
GK-Marilyn Dixon
D-Brooke Ittersagen
D-Berkley Dylla
D-Kayla Waterman
D-Lily Petrie
MF-Ella Byrnes
MF-Emma Gronlund
MF-Kelsey Clousing
F-Ava Walsh
F-Lucy Jethani
F-Ashlyn Adams

Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Abi Edwards, sr., F, Batavia


Scoring summary

First half
Wheaton Warrenville South: Lucy Jethani (Ashlyn Adams), 11’
Batavia: Abi Edwards (Brianna Solis), 15’

Second half (game ended in 73rd minute, weather)
No scoring