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The only real trophy available to the Evanston or New Trier boys soccer teams in this pandemic season is the fire hydrant that for years has been awarded to the winner of the rivalry game between the two schools.
So far, New Trier has the upper hand.
A talented and disciplined Trevian squad blanked the Wildkits 2-0 Tuesday night in Northfield and pulled even in the all-time series between the two rivals. In one of the State’s longest running — and tightest — rivalries, Evanston and New Trier have each posted 43 wins in the head-to-head matchups and the two schools have tied 22 times.
A rematch is guaranteed for the final game of the 2021 regular season since the Central Suburban League will participate in “pod” tournaments, as no Illinois High School Association State series will be held.
First-half goals by New Trier’s Collin Donnelly-Maine and Dante Mitchell and the acrobatic play of goalie Aidan Crawford (seven saves) kept the winners unbeaten in nine games and helped them regain possession of the fire hydrant that the winners take turns painting their school colors. Evanston fell to 4-3 on the year.
The Wildkits actually outplayed the winners over the last 20 minutes, ramping up the offensive pressure, but it was a case of too little, too late for ETHS.
“They’re good, they’re good. Too bad there’s no State championship [this year],” said Evanston head coach Franz Calixte. “That’s a solid, solid team. They moved the ball so well against us in the first half and we were just trying to ride out the storm and make it 1-0 at the half. But they got the second goal and that was a big one.
“We didn’t use three forwards in the first half — we tried to crowd the middle of the field instead — so we didn’t put much pressure on them. We found ways to put more pressure on them in the second half, and I thought we communicated better, too.”
Dante Mitchell’s goal, with 3 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half, turned out to be the back-breaker for the Wildkits. The persistent Trevian senior refused to take no for an answer from the ETHS defense and finally beat goalkeeper Ben Weyman with a low shot after the Kits couldn’t clear the ball out of their own end.
“That was a soft goal,” Coach Calixte pointed out. “We had poor clearance and it was just a soft deflection off one of our backs. He [Dante] was all by himself and he still got off two or three shots. All we had to do was get one good foot on the ball, but their guy wanted it more.”
Evanston mustered only one shot on goal in the first half, on a restart by junior Sebastian Schultz in the seventh minute, but tested Trevian goalie Crawford frequently in the second half. Junior Will Travis’ attempted scoring run in the 51st minute climaxed in a bullet left-footed shot that Aidan stopped, and eight minutes later Will whistled a shot just left of the corner post following a New Trier turnover.
Will was thwarted twice more by the New Trier keeper and ETHS endured its first shutout loss of the season.