Jacobs' long rip dooms Gators in FVC showdown
CLICK HERE FOR GATORS' TEAM PAGE
By Gary Larsen
Through 57 minutes of play on Tuesday, Jacobs was unable to put a single shot on frame against host Crystal Lake South in their Fox Valley showdown in Crystal Lake.
But when junior Cassidy Sherman was finally able to find a rare scoring chance for the Golden Eagles, was it ever a doozy.
Cassidy’s 30-yard strike with the wind at her back left Gators keeper Elizabeth Quinn with no chance, as the shot tore under the crossbar as the game’s lone goal.
“A lot of times in girls’ soccer, that 30-yard shot is a floater,” Jacobs coach AJ Cappello said. “But that thing was just driven. That was as well as you’re going to strike a ball, with your left foot, from 30 yards.”
Sherman chose the path of humility in describing her game-winning shot. “I was just trying it out and seeing if the wind would help,” she said.
Windy, cold, wet – Tuesday’s game had all the charm of nearly every other game in a wicked season of weather for girls’ soccer this spring. Which left both teams with little chance of playing much “pretty” soccer.
“It was sloppy,” Sherman said. “Just come in hard, physically, and try to win every ball. They’re a really good team and we knew we had to come out hard. I feel like this should give us confidence. They were really physical on fifty-fifty balls, they got chances, and we had to stop them.”
Host Crystal Lake South (10-7-2, 5-2) and visiting Jacobs (13-5, 4-1) traded a pair of shots each through 15 minutes. The only shot on frame among them came when South’s Kali Loescher ripped a ball at the post that Jacobs keeper Megan Minogue fielded cleanly.
The teams tried to trade punches through the first quarter-hour; a Jacobs corner kick went for naught, Minogue raced off her line to cut off a through-ball, and South’s Emily Schoenfeldt sent in a shot that Minogue handled from distance.
At 24 minutes, Jacobs’ Payton Berg reached the endline but Gators keeper Elizabeth Quinn charged off her line to cut it off, and Loescher reached the endline on the left side a minute later but her cross was cleared out.
The Golden Eagles spent three steady minutes deep on South’s end just before halftime, but through 40 minutes the host Gators earned a 4-0 edge in shots put on frame. Still, the teams arrived scoreless at halftime.
“We got out of the first half with them going at us with the wind, which was really a good plus for us,” Sherman said. “And we knew we had to capitalize when we had the wind. We had to go at them and try to keep them locked in.”
Even though Jacobs had the wind at its back in the second half, shots remained hard to come by.
“It seemed like we started to panic a little bit in the first 15 minutes of the second half, because we weren’t getting the chances we thought we’d get,” Cappello said. “We didn’t create as many opportunities as we would have liked, by any stretch.”
Playing into the wind, South created arguably the day’s best scoring chance when Loescher reached the endline on the right side at 51 minutes. Her serve across the goalmouth found the far post but a prime shot for the Gators went wide.
“When you put balls across the six you’ve got to bury them, no matter how wet it is, or it comes back to bite you,” South coach Brian Allen said. “I thought we played good soccer and it was a fun game to watch. It’s a fun rivalry and it had a bit of a playoff atmosphere to it. We needed this because in the playoffs, you’re going to get six chances so you’d better make the most out of those two or three really good chances that you get.
“We didn’t do that today, Jacobs did, so credit them with the ‘W’. They played a very organized game of soccer.”
Quinn's first save of the game came at 57 minutes when Jacobs' Margaret Rivera hit a thunderous shot from the around the midfield stripe. The wind helped drive it to the goalmouth, where Quinn snared it on the fly.
After Sherman took a feed from sister Catie Sherman and launched it into net, Loescher continued to provide danger for the Gators, firing from inside Jacobs’ penalty area just two minutes later. Her shot was disrupted by a Jacobs defender and Minogue made the save.
“(Loescher) is starting to hit her stride up top,” Allen said. “She’s just a handful for teams, she creates, she’s able to get loose from her defender and get services. Her teammates need to step up and bury those chances.”
In addition to the wind and a slightly wet grass field, both teams’ defenses helped keep play compressed largely between the penalty areas. Two of the best center backs around in Jacobs’ Rivera and the Gators’ Vivian Qian kept their backline teammates organized throughout.
The Gators have 8 shutouts on the season and have only given up 10 goals in their last 16 games. The Golden Eagles earned their 7th shutout of the season on Tuesday.
“Megan (Minogue) kept her composure and did a real nice job,” Cappello said. “I thought
both Grady sisters (Lauren and Shannon) were working their tails off. Even though they didn’t create any great chances, they did a nice job just roughing it. Erin Flores and Catie Sherman in the midfield were winning a lot of balls, and of course Margaret (Rivera) in back.”
Cappello also applauded the day’s work put in by outside backs Jess Tennant, Molly Leopold, and Danielle Blanchard, in battling a gritty Gators squad. “When they stay aggressive, we can attack,” Cappello said.
“This win is huge for us, mentally. We’re still a team growing and building. We still have a long way to go but it’s great to set the mentality.”
While Allen was disappointed in his side’s inability to capitalize on a handful of dangerous scoring chances, he was pleased with efforts received from around the pitch.
“Vivian has been terrific. She reads the game so well,” Allen said. “Today she needed to do that and she cut out some of those dangerous through-balls that Jacobs had.
“Jacobs has 5-foot-11 girls all over the field but the girls showed today that they’re not going to back down from anyone. Mackenzie Taldone in the middle is probably one of the smallest girls on the field but she plays 6-foot. That’s why I wouldn’t trade her for anyone in the center of the park. She’s tenacious and she’s not going to back down from anyone. And that’s what we need more of, all the way around. We see it from five or six of the girls but we need to see it from all eleven that are on the field.”
Allen ended with a tip of the hat to his right outside mid. The thankless and mostly anonymous work of an outside midfielder involves running, more running, and yet more running still, and the Gators have been getting that and then some from Emily Schoenfeldt.
“I’ve asked a lot out of her,” Allen said. “She’s been going hard at people. She’s got some work to do on the technical side but I can’t ask any more out of her, with her heart.”