Evanston’s defense played a near-perfect soccer game Monday night at New Trier.
But near-perfect just wasn’t good enough against the undefeated Trevians.
New Trier scored its only goal following an ETHS mis-kick and scored a 1-0 victory to remain in the driver’s seat in the Central Suburban League South division race.
Maddie Mulford’s goal midway through the first half was the difference as New Trier improved to 18-0 and Evanston slipped to 13-5 on the season. The two teams are almost certain to be among the top three seeds — along with Loyola Academy — when seedings for the Illinois High School Association sectional tournament are released next month.
Now all the Wildkits can do is hope for a rematch.
“If we play them again in the playoffs, it’ll be a close battle,” said Evanston head coach Maurizio Grillo. “I didn’t see anything tonight to make we think we couldn’t beat them if we played them again.
“New Trier didn’t make any mistakes tonight. We did make one mistake, and they capitalized on it.”
Mulford pounced on a loose ball with 20 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first half and found the back of the net against Evanston goalie Olivia Post (7 saves). Ironically, Wildkit defenders Kate Kremin and Jamie Donohue kept Mulford bottled up for most of the game. New Trier’s leading scorer only mustered one other shot on goal.
Kremin, who recently returned to the lineup after being sidelined with a severe concussion, blocked two Trevian shots and also saved a potential goal in the 32nd minute. Post was caught off her line and the ball ricocheted off Mulford toward the open net, but Kremin closed quickly on the ball and nudged it out of danger.
“I thought Kate did a fantastic job tonight,” Grillo praised. “Our center back and left back had to keep switching marks, and that could have been confusing, but they played very well. I thought we played a fantastic game on defense.
“The Catch-22 for us tonight was, how do we push up (on offense) without opening up the midfield for New Trier? So instead of our (possession) passing style, the idea instead was for us to try to connect with Maia Cella on some long passes.”
Cella was involved in two separate scoring chances that didn’t produce goals for the Wildkits. She was knocked to the ground five minutes into the second half, but only earned a free kick instead of a penalty kick, and the New Trier defensive wall smothered an attempt by Maureen Kerr.
With four minutes left in the game, Cella was decked again, but no whistle blew.
“On that first one, I thought that should have been a red card and a PK,” Grillo said.
Evanston’s best chance in the first half came in the 12th minute, when a long drive by Tess Hoopingarner glanced off the crossbar from 35 yards out.