Saint Viator tops Fenwick 3-1
Click here for photos from Wednesday's game
By Gary Larsen
March soccer is always a dicey proposition but from the opening whistle to the end of regulation, Saint Viator seemed to play better and better against conference foe Fenwick on Wednesday.
Lions coach Mike Taylor confirmed the suspicion after his girls won 3-1 over the feisty Friars.
“We’re progressing,” he said. “As we said to the girls, it’s trying to find a system and trying to find where girls can play. You can practice all you want, but you need to play games to see where girls can play.”
Junior Taylor Skala had a hand in every goal in Saint Viator’s win against its East Suburban Catholic foe, in a game played at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.
The junior scored twice and assisted on a Katelyn Hammerlund goal, helping the Lions to their first win of the season. Viator lost 2-1 to Buffalo Grove on Monday.
“We know we’ve got two horses up front with Taylor and Katelyn,” Taylor said. “We know once we get them going and we can get balls to them, they’re dangerous.”
Without injured starting midfielders Molly McMahon and Ariana Kuliczenko at his disposal, Taylor had to slide a few players around to compensate for their absence, including Erin Malone and Katie Gavin.
“When you’re missing your two starting center midfielders, that’s a huge link that settles things down,” Taylor said. “Once we get them back after (spring) break, I think we’ll be fine in the middle.”
McMahon and Kuliczenko will return from injuries suffered during Monday’s loss to Buffalo Grove.
The Lions’ first goal on Wednesday came early in the first half, when Skala intercepted a goal kick at the 18 and busted in alone on net. Fenwick tied the game on a Megan Frank goal from 25 yards out on a feed from Alyssa Giaccolone, but Viator regained the lead less than a minute before halftime.
After a serve into the box, Taylor located a loose ball and slid a pass over to Hammerlund, who buried it from point-blank range for the 2-1 lead.
The Lions’ back line on Wednesday featured center back Meghan McGrath and outside backs Andree’ DiVito and Kathleen Kane, who did a fine job in holding Fenwick mainly to sending long balls sent on net. Viator senior keeper Stephanie Shanahan stayed in good position throughout in fielding those long shots successfully.
“They’re all three veteran defenders so you expect them to come through,” Taylor said. “Meghan and Kathleen played together last year. We’ll keep them in there and see how they do, but I thought they all played well today... (Shanahan) is a steady, solid keeper."
As the second half wore on it became apparent that Saint Viator had a little more left in its gas tank than the Friars. Skala scored in the second half on a breakaway up the right side into the box, providing the final 3-1 victory margin.
Fenwick fought the good fight throughout but Saint Viator’s energy ultimately won the day. “This was our first game and we’ve only been outside for two days of practice,” Fenwick coach Daryl Shore said.
“We kind of died a little bit in the second half. And we made three mistakes and they scored three goals. We worked hard for our goal but when you make mistakes you’re going to get punished. They have a couple good forwards up top and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
Taylor was impressed by what he saw from Fenwick.
“They’re a good ballclub,” Taylor said of the Friars. “It’s their first game and that’s always rough. You get out, run, play against an opponent, and then you change things. I’m sure they’ll come out next game and get stronger and stronger. They’re dangerous.”
The Friars’ best play came in the first 40 minutes.
“We were moving the ball quickly and that creates good possession, and then we were able to get forward with the ball by moving it quicker, playing it wide, and getting our forwards involved,” Shore said.
“Our three central midfielders in the first half did a good job of moving it quick and getting forward. We feel like we’ve got a good group and we can play soccer this year.”
Jane Tedesco, Molly Sutton, and Megan Frank all played exceptional soccer for the Friars through the midfield on Wednesday.