New Trier had Libertyville on the ropes for a full 100 minutes of soccer Tuesday night in Northfield but couldn’t land the knockout blow.
Instead, the Wildcats (18-2-2) provided the final strike with their fifth straight converted penalty kick to clinch the decisive shootout and eliminate the Trevians (23-3-1) a game shy of the state finals.
“Nobody wants it to go to penalty kicks unless you win. It’s a tough way to end,” New Trier coach Jim Burnside said. “It’s not on anyone’s shoulders. You go out and play 100 minutes and do the best you can. … I’m really, really proud of our girls.”
Sadie Grace Richardson (16) wins the ball in the air for the Trevians in the supersectional.
The penalty-kick session was a game of inches. While each team made its first shot, New Trier’s second attempt banged down off the crossbar and landed just in front of the goal line.
Trevians goalie Caroline Hague also got her hands on one of Libertyville’s attempts, but the ball bounced into the side netting.
The Wildcats flawless penalty-kick performance secured them a supersectional victory on May 30 and one of four spots in the IHSA Class 3A finals on Friday-Saturday, June 2-3.
New Trier’s season comes to a close with regional and sectional championships and as one of eight teams remaining in IHSA Class 3A. The finish was a two-round improvement from last season, when the Trevians had their lowest win total since at least 1997.
“It was a great season. I don’t think anyone thought we’d have this type of season after last season,” Burnside said. “Kids stepped up all over the place. I’m so so proud of each individual, all 23 kids, whether they saw 5 games or 29 games.
“They are now a great team that New Trier and we will remember for a long time.”
New Trier junior Charlotte Dellin (15) fights off a Libertyville defender.
After successive shutout wins in sectional play, New Trier’s defense was again up to the task against Libertyville.
While the Trevians controlled early action, the Wildcats the final 20 minutes of the first half, which include missed shots off the post and crossbar.
In the second half, the matched turned more physical as the time on the clock waned. Each team was called for five fouls in the half. Overall, New Trier was called for 12 to Libertyville’s six.
The Trevians also created more chances in the second half, earning five corner kicks in the half. On the Trevs’ best chance, Sadie Grace Richardson headed a corner ball off the turf and just over an open net on the far post.
Speaking generally, Burnside said the Trevs did not have the magic touch Tuesday night.
“Bottom line is (Libertyville is) a good team. They are a good, athletic team, so it’s going to make it harder to create those chances,” he said. “I thought we did a good job and we had to make that final touch and it was hard for us. It was a battle. Those chances don’t come that often against good teams.”
In overtime, with both teams clearly tired from the physical and high-level soccer, chances were few and far between, and each team put out their five for penalty kicks.
Sadie Grace Richardson looks to pull away from a Wildcats defender.
After it was over, with Libertyville not missing a shot, New Trier senior Lida Dodge was proud of how her team went out.
“We just kept trying to do everything we could,” she said. “We gave everything we had to try to win. I think we played our best. We all love each other so much and we just wanted to keep going and play next weekend.”
Dodge, who is off to Purdue University next school year, said New Trier soccer has made a special impact on who she is “on and off the field they’ve helped me grow as a person.”
Burnside said that Dodge and her fellow seniors — such as Richardson, Nora Westol, Clara Deliduka and Lauren Caldwell — left a mark that will remain on future classes of Trevians.
“This senior class has just done an amazing job of setting the tone for soccer but setting the tone for NTGS culture,” he said. “And they bought into it. We will miss these seniors. It’s an intangible. You don’t see all of them out there starting, you don’t see all of them getting great minutes, but they are all great teammates.”
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