With the focus on a defense that has posted 9 shutouts so far this season, sometimes the fact that Evanston’s offense hasn’t exactly been prolific hides want could be a potential problem for coach Maurizio Grillo’s squad.
Grillo isn’t worried yet. The Wildkits found enough offense Thursday night to score a 2-0 victory at Maine South, setting up what should be a winner-take-all Central Suburban League South division battle with unbeaten New Trier at Lazier Field next Tuesday.
Maureen Kerr scored her 4th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 20th minute, and Alex Berkley added a goal on a free kick 10 minutes later as Evanston improved to 9-2-1 overall and 2-0 in CSL South play.
The host Hawks, however, had far more scoring opportunities and forced ETHS goalie Sheridan Cleave to record 5 saves for the winners.
Thursday’s score was the same as Tuesday’s versus Glenbrook South, but there was really no comparison in Grillo’s eyes. And the fact that the Evanston coach is constantly substituting has led to a decrease in the flow of the attack, as he refuses to leave in starters just to run up the score and pad the team’s goal total.
Against Maine South, he used 20 players in the first half.
“I’m rotating a lot of players right now, and I know that has an effect on the (final) score,” Grillo said. “But these girls have to play if it’s an easy game, and they have to play if it’s a hard game. I usually keep a smaller squad (instead of the 25-girl roster currently in place), but the young kids we have are talented, especially the freshmen, and I want to be able to give them some time against varsity competition this year.
“I am a little concerned that we didn’t score more tonight. I’m not sure if we were a little complacent or if some of the girls were a little tired. I’m not happy with the way we played, but a win is a win. I thought we’d continue to play tonight like we did against GBS, but we didn’t see that today. But I’ll take a 2-0 win all day.
“Right now the defense is getting the job done for us. Maine South put a lot of pressure on us — they were relentless — and we’re just lucky the defense was at the top of their game.”
Kerr’s playmaking in the midfield helped keep the Kits out of danger and the Creighton University-bound senior got a rare opportunity to score when Maine South was whistled for a hand ball violation midway through the first half. She buried the kick, then used her high soccer IQ to foil double-team tactics by the Hawks just about every time she touched the ball.
“We’ve asked Maureen to make a sacrifice and be more of a playmaker this year, and she’s really bought into it and delivered what I’m asking of her,” Grillo said. “Even before I said anything to her, she knew that they were double-teaming her and that she should just use two touches. She’s a brilliant player and a lot of teams are double-teaming her this year. I’m OK with that, because that just gives Alex (Berkley) more room on the other side.”
Sophomore Maia Cella created the scoring chance for Berkley when she was fouled at the 20-yard line. Berkley then drilled a free kick through the hands of South goalie Claire Vinopal for an insurance goal.
On defense, Julia Kenney blocked three shots and Ruby Siegel thwarted the Hawks with a blocked shot in the last 4 minutes to help preserve the shutout for Cleave.