It was an evenly matched affair Friday night between the Oak Park and RB soccer teams, and the result indicated as such as the game concluded in a 2-2 tie.
The RB underclassmen were determined to help the seniors in their final home game; and sophomore Lia Sanchez aided the cause by putting in the game-tying goal on a free-kick with 26 minutes left in the game.
“I wasn’t expecting (the free kick) to go as well as it did,” Sanchez laughed. “We had determination in this game because it was senior night, so everyone was motivated to do something better. We were a little intimidated by Oak Park because they’re known for being a good team, but today we had the motivation to just go out there and play our best.”
Sophomore forward Tess Trinka accounted for both goals for the Huskies (9-8-3, 4-2), the first on a shot from the right side with 15 minutes left in the first half, and the second coming off of a play after a throw-in by senior defender Katherine Skrine to put the Huskies ahead 2-1 with 35 minutes left in the second half.
“Our coaches have gone through runs with us, especially on a throw-in in such a dangerous position; so I did the runs that they taught me,” said Trinka of her second goal. “(The first goal) came from heavy pressure from our forwards, which made the (Bulldogs’) defenders hesitate and wobble with the ball; and I was in the right place at the right time.”
Senior Alleigh Vandemerkt put the Bulldogs (7-4-4, 4-2) on the board with eight minutes to go in the first half, as she broke through three Huskie defenders to score and tie the game at 1-1.
Bulldogs senior goalkeeper Elena Duve (10 saves) and Huskies senior goalkeeper Katy Oldach (9 saves) each came up with huge stops in the second half to keep the score tied 2-2. And their coaches know that better than anyone.
“(Duve) was hot tonight,” said Bulldogs head coach Danny Makaric. “She came in mentally strong today; she was really great for us. If she plays like this in the regional, we have a big chance to win.”
“(Oldach) is an unbelievable keeper,” said Huskies head coach Ignacio Ponce. “It was a 50-50 chance on that first goal, and it was just unlucky that she didn’t expect (Sanchez’s free kick) to hit the front post. She kept us in it and our girls had a fire to start attacking in the last 10 minutes of the game.”
The Huskies did dominate possession in the final 10 minutes, but Duve stopped them in their tracks when it came to scoring chances.
“We definitely picked up the intensity, and were playing a lot faster than before,” said Trinka of the Huskies’ late second-half efforts. “We had one-two touches and were switching the ball. It was really good movement, but we just have to convert now.”
Makaric knew that the Huskies would bring some intense competition, and was happy with how his Bulldogs handled the challenge.
“We know that Oak Park is going to be a tough team,” he said. “We just needed to be smart and try to win the ball in the middle. We tried to play our forwards from the side, because we have a better chance to attack from the side. It was working very well; it was a very interesting game.”