After beating Benet Academy in the regular season finale, the Evanston Township High School girls soccer team hoped to carry the momentum gained in that victory into a matchup with Von Steuben on May 14 in the first round of the Class 3A Evanston Regional tournament at the high school’s Lazier Field.
The Kits were able to do just that, prevailing 2-0. In that game, freshman Brealyn Viamille gave the Kits a 1-0 lead with 12:05 remaining in the first half. From there, junior Callista O’Connor scored to extend the Kits’ lead to 2-0 with 5 minutes and 57 seconds to go in the first half. That lead turned out to be more than enough, as the Kits went on to capture the victory from there.
With the victory, the Kits advanced to take on Lane Tech in the Regional title game on May 17. In that game, Brealyn was at it again, scoring with just over a minute to go in the first half to give the Kits a 1-0 lead.
That goal ended up being the only goal of the game, as the Kits came away victorious by a score of 1-0. The Kits improved to 14-5-2 overall with the victory. The victory also gave the Kits their sixth straight Regional championship.
In winning the Regional, the Kits advanced to the New Trier Sectional round and took on Glenbrook South in the semifinals on May 21. But unfortunately, the Kits came up short against the Titans by a score of 2-1.
In that game, Brealyn gave the Kits a 1-0 lead when she scored with 30:23 remaining in the first half.
The score remained 1-0 into the intermission. Early in the second half, the Titans had several chances to score but Kits’ sophomore goalie Caitlin Fitzpatrick turned each of those away to help retain the lead. But the Titans eventually tied the score at 1-1 with 8:46 remaining in regulation time.
From there, neither team was able to score another goal in the remaining time, which meant overtime.
After two scoreless 10- minute overtime periods, the contest had to be decided with a round of penalty kicks. The Titans scored three penalty kicks and the Kits scored only one, off the leg of Callista, allowing the Titans to come away with the victory and ending the Kits’ season on a sour note.
“Overall I thought we fought hard. The girls did what we asked of them,” said head coach Stacy Salgado about her team’s performance. “We made a little mental mistake when they got their goal, and [GBS] obviously found a way, but overall, I thought we played pretty solid.”
When asked to evaluate Brealyn and Caitlin, who each had very strong performances in the postseason, Coach Salgado said, “Brealyn really stepped it up toward the end of our season quite a bit just using her speed and her ball skills and her awareness on the field.”
The Coach said of Caitlin, “The last couple games, she had quite a few great saves for us. She has taken a beating especially since her hip is quite tight. So she pulled out some amazing goal kicks and free kicks even though she was a little bit sore.”
With the defeat, the Kits finished the season with an overall record of 14-6-2.
When asked how she felt the season went overall, Coach Salgado said, “I think we did really well. I think we started off very, very strong and had a little slump in the middle.
“So we worked on a couple things, mostly confidence, and I think towards the end of the season, we were really on the upward with our play and work effort and all of those pieces.”
Coach Salgado continued, “I am very happy. I am very proud of these girls. We had a really young group and I think our upperclassmen did a really nice job including [the underclassmen] and making them feel like part of the group too. Overall, it was a great group. They were very supportive of one another, and they really connected on and off the field, and I think that really helped with the dynamic and depth of our team.”
If all goes according to plan, fans can look for the Kits to learn from their experiences this season and be in position to advance to the Sectional semifinals or farther next season.