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The threat of rain had pretty much passed by the time the New Trier and Evanston girls soccer teams kicked off in a Central Suburban League South division rematch Wednesday night.
But lightning still struck for the Wildkits in Northfield.
A 40-yard laser shot by Nahla Dominguez smacked into the upper right corner of the net and stunned the host Trevians, as Evanston rallied for a 1-1 tie with 1 minute, 25 seconds remaining in the contest.
Dominguez’s goal came off a free kick restart and marked the first time since 2016 that ETHS has scored in the head-to-head rivalry. Not coincidentally, that was the last time the Wildkits defeated the Trevians.
You could even make the case that Evanston “won” a 1-1 tie, although moral victories aren’t part of the game plan for ETHS head coach Stacy Salgado.
Instead, Salgado lamented the fact that the Wildkits had an apparent goal disallowed by an offsides call — in the goal mouth — exactly 60 seconds prior to the actual score by Dominguez.
“It’s not a win, even though in my book, we won that game 2-1,” said Salgado after her squad partly avenged a 2-0 loss to New Trier last month. “I’ll have to check the video (about that offsides call). But the heart was definitely there for us tonight. We had a lot of girls who played major minutes, and they were tired, but they kept producing and fought until the end.
“I’m not ever satisfied with a tie, but I happy with the way we came back and fought. The only other team we’ve been down against all season was GBN (Glenbrook North), and we came back and won that one.”
Dominguez pushed a shot just left after a potential scoring run in the 80th minute, with New Trier keeper Wynne Hague partly deflecting the attempt with one hand. But she didn’t miss the next time she had an opportunity.
Lined up in front of the stands where Trevian fans were seated, she didn’t let some taunts get to her with the game on the line.
“I was a little nervous when I took the shot, because I had the same scenario when we played GBN,” recalled the junior midfielder. “They were yelling things at me from the stands and I shanked the kick. This time I just told myself calma, calma, stay calma even though they were screaming at me. I just aimed for the back post and kicked it in.
“We’re a very good team and we showed up to play today. I think we were able to win more possessions than New Trier in the second half.
“ I was talking with the other girls (teammates) about how this is the kind of game where you can be a hero, or not. That was a hero moment!”
Dominguez’s team-high 11th goal of the season moved Evanston to 11-1-3 on the season. The Wildkits would need a lot of help to catch New Trier in the conference standings now, but the tie on the eve of seeding for the Illinois High School Association sectional tournament should solidify the Kits’ position as no worse than No. 2 in the voting behind New Trier.
New Trier grabbed a 1-0 advantage in the 20th minute on a goal by Caroline Finnigan, but ETHS keeper Caitlin Fitzpatrick (7 saves) didn’t give up anything after that and the Wildkits didn’t give up as a team.
“To pull through like we did at the end like that was really big,” Salgado said. “We played better against them this time. We just had to remind ourselves how we play, to be hungry for the ball and to anticipate those first and second balls. We just wanted to play our game.
“Nahla has come up with a lot of big goals for us this year. She’s a talented playmaker and she’s really starting to take over a leadership spot for us in the midfield area. We got to the point tonight where you can stop playing, or keep on pushing, and they all kept pushing.”