SOCCER — Bodies flew all over the field in a physical sectional final between two rivals.
No. 1 seed Loyola (24-0-3) defeated No. 2 seed New Trier (18-3-6) 2-0 in the Evanston Sectional championship Friday night.
The Ramblers continued their undefeated season, but it hasn’t been easy focusing on their opponents rather than the blank space in the loss column.
“You’ve got to push aside all of the emotions especially coming into this game because we all had emotions since we know all of the players,” said Loyola junior striker Meeghan Smith. “You just have to block that out and focus on yourself and your game.”
Loyola kicked things off in the first half with an upper 90 strike from senior midfielder Carrie Schoenberger.
Sophomore defender Corey Burns placed a free kick into the box, which was then cleared to the top of the box where Smith fed the ball off to Schoenberger.
The Ramblers dominated play for the better part of the opening half and New Trier only had one scoring chance.
In the 38th minute, freshman midfielder Emily Miller almost got in on goal from a ball played over the top, but was denied by Loyola keeper Carly Stevens.
The Ramblers extended their lead in the 39th minute as Smith unexpectedly floated a ball from the corner of the 18 to the upper 90 just past the hands of senior keeper Laura Martorana.
“That puts you on your heels,” said New Trier head coach Jim Burnside. “They got that first goal and we had to start making adjustments and then (midfielder Zoe Hawks) gets hurt and then we had to make more adjustments. It takes us out of our game, but they’re a good team so those goals were tough.”
The second have provided more of the same from Loyola’s defense.
Stevens was forced to only make one save in the final 40 minutes, while the Trevians’ best chance came from a ball that was knocked out of Stevens’ grasp into the net, which was then overturned.
The Ramblers best second half opportunity came in the 71st minute as freshman phenom Lia Baldo struck a shot off of the top of the crossbar.
Loyola will next meet up Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Elk Grove Supersectional against Conant.
“If we prepare the same way we prepared for this game, such as practicing extra hard and we need to come in knowing what the opponent expects of us especially after a big win like this,” Smith said. “We can’t let ourselves get down just because we won one game especially since the next team will probably be a lot better.”
New Trier may not have closed out its 2011 campaign with a win, but its final contest does not define an entire season.
“I had a great group of kids,” Burnside said. “As I just said to them, a season is not encapsulated in one game, it’s encapsulated in five to eight months of effort to get to this point and we’ll walk off this field proud to be a team and proud to be from New Trier.”
The Trevians will be losing six of their 11 starters to graduation and 12 of the team’s 22 players. Besides Martorana in goal, New Trier will miss the skills of defenders Kirstin Takaki and Anne Marie Thomas, midfielders Morgan Steinberg and Hawks and striker Haley Rosen.
“The coaches are amazing and the girls are amazing with the relationships you make and that’s what I’m going to miss the most,” said Rosen. “Soccer is so much fun, but I’m going to miss the most the memories with my coaches and the girls.”