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Seniors who keep their focus can always make a big difference in high school athletics.
You don’t have to tell that to Evanston field hockey coach Jenner Johnson. She saw it firsthand as the Wildkits closed in on the school single-season record for victories with a 3-1 win over Antioch on a rainy Thursday night at Lazier Field in the Oct. 7 regular season home finale.
Evanston’s 11 seniors didn’t let the distractions of Senior Night or a 30-plus minute lightning delay affect them as they improved to 7-5 on the season.
A win Saturday at Chicago Latin would tie the single-season mark of eight wins set by the 2019 squad, with postseason play also offering more opportunities to add to that record.
Thursday’s triumph – behind goals from seniors Annie Hogan, Madilynn Clark and Grace Johnson – likely secured a top-eight seed for the Kits for the State tournament series. Those pairings will be announced Oct. 13.
Hogan and Clark scored within two minutes of each other after play resumed early in the second quarter, an outburst that came in more suddenly than the bad weather that halted the game briefly. Antioch, which entered the game with a 3-7 won-loss record, had played the hosts even up until the delay.
“They really kept their heads in the game tonight,” Johnson said. “There was a lot going on. We were able to come back out [after the delay] and not get too excited over the events of the night. They really kept their composure all night.
“We have 11 seniors who are teachers for the underclassmen in the program, and they’re showing them how we want things to be done. Tonight we were able to keep the pressure on Antioch, and then after we let them score, we got right back after them and scored again.”
Antioch scored with about three minutes left in the third quarter, but Johnson answered with 23 seconds showing on the clock. Neither team really threatened in the final period, although the visitors did have a couple of corner opportunities but couldn’t put a shot on goal.
Three of Evanston’s losses this season have come in overtime and Johnson expects to better another record, too, before the 2021 campaign is over. The fledgling ETHS program has only scored one postseason win to date but the current crew is aiming higher.
“We are a very good team and we deserve one of those top rankings,” Johnson said, regarding the tournament seeding. “I’ve already told our girls that they’re the team that no one else will want to play now. We’re going to upset some teams, regardless of where we’re ranked. We’re here to disrupt.”