New Trier coach Jim Burnside knew the importance of seizing the momentum early on. Playing against Loyola Academy -- whose defense had 23 shutouts coming in to the sectional final -- getting the first goal was going to be critical.
So when Loyola’s Carrie Schoeneberger put the Ramblers up 1-0 with an 18-yard strike less than five minutes into the first half, Burnside knew the Trevians were going to fight an uphill battle.
Loyola added another goal near the end of the first half and the New Trier offense never generated a consistent attack as the Ramblers finally found some redemption, winning the IHSA Class 3A Evanston Sectional, 2-0, on Friday night.
“It was certainly a focal-point game for us. We’ve got knocked out the last few years, we’re sitting there the day after the season saying we want to get back in 365 days to play New Trier in this game,” said Loyola Academy coach Craig Snower, whose team lost to New Trier in the sectional final the past two seasons. “To be honest with you, we wouldn’t have wanted an upset anywhere on the line.”
After a handball just past midfield, Loyola played a ball into the center at the top of the box. It bounded out to Schoeneberger who volleyed it from 18 yards into the upper-right corner, possibly off a deflection.
Later in the half New Trier started to get a little offensive push. Rachel Shellenback sent a ball across the box, but Loyola goalie Carly Stevens was there to corral it easily. A minute later Jessie Berman played a ball across, but it was cleared away by the Loyola defense.
New Trier’s best scoring opportunity of the game occurred Emily Miller found Haley Rosen with a through ball near the top of the penalty box, but Stevens got to the ball before Rosen could put a touch on it.
“We got rolling a little bit once we started to connect some passes,” New Trier coach Jim Burnside said. “Once we calmed down, we moved the ball pretty well the last 20 minutes of the first half.”
But just when it looked like the Trevians had Loyola on its heels defensively; the Ramblers’ Meeghan Smith dribbled down the right sideline and chipped a shot on goal from about 25 yards out. The junior forward caught goalkeeper Laura Martorana off her line and the ball bounded off Martorana’s finger tips, barely crossing the goal line for a 2-0 Loyola lead.
“That changes the whole complexion of the game because we’re looking at a one-goal lead, they come out hard and anything can happen,” Snower said. “We tighten up with a one-goal lead, but you’ve got a goalie like Carly who has given up three goals all year…getting two is really impossible.”
Down two goals and playing without senior midfielder Zoe Hawks during the second half, New Trier made some adjustments, sending more people forward. Still, Loyola’s defense didn’t budge.
“Our defense has been great all year,” Snower said. “What’s really amazing is we lose Jill Stevens, who’s one of the best defenders to an ACL a week ago and we throw in two freshmen [Elie Zadina and Tori Iatarola] out there, playing New Trier and they don’t buckle at all.”
Loyola moves on to play Conant in the Elk Grove Super-Sectional on Tuesday.
Even with the loss to Loyola in this year’s sectional final, New Trier’s 12 seniors accomplished a lot during their four years, including back-to-back sectional championships the last two seasons.
The Trevians will return five starters from the sectional final to next year’s squad, but the impact of this year’s class won’t be forgotten.
“The relationships with all the girls and the coaches are what I’m going to miss the most,” Rosen, a senior, said. “Soccer’s a great part, but it’s more the relationships you gain with the people and coaches.”