By Brad Spencer
With both teams jumping off to favorable starts in their respective seasons, it was only fitting that the annual clash between OPRF and Fenwick girls soccer last week would end up a nail-biter.
The two teams squared off on Thursday at Oak Park Stadium with Fenwick holding off the Huskies for a 3-2 victory and village bragging rights. The win pushed the Friars' record to 7-0-1, while OPRF's win-streak was halted at six games.
The Friars scored two goals in the first half and one early in the second half to stake a 3-0 lead before OPRF made the cross-town match-up interesting by finding the net twice in the final 15 minutes of action.
Tess Trinka and Lauren Wilkes scored OPRF's late goals off corner kicks, with assists by Ruby Gonzalez. Wilkes currently leads the team in scoring with six goals on the season.
Fenwick's early game dominance was, in part, due to the play of Cali Pyzdrowski, Bridget Hillsman, Sydney Jensen, Lauren Frank and goalkeeper Jesse Cwik. Pyzdrowski and Hillsman each scored a goal and dished out an assist apiece in the win. Frank had an assist, while Cwik finished with eight saves.
"Jesse Cwik has played outstanding (this season), especially against OPRF, making some huge saves to help preserve the victory," said Fenwick head coach Robert Watson of his goalkeeper. "She won Goalkeeper of the Tournament in the Windy City Classic and has four shutouts."
OPRF head coach Ignacio Ponce called the game "a good loss."
"Both teams came to play and (this time) Fenwick came out with the victory," he said. "Our team continues to improve and I think this is a good wakeup call for us. We cannot get too comfortable and expect to win every time. Our season challenge is to continue to improve and make an impact for the postseason."
OPRF's offense has spread the wealth in its first eight games with eight different players scoring goals and seven different players contributing with assists, something their head coach couldn't be more satisfied with.
"Overall, I am very pleased with the start of the season," said Ponce, whose squad before the Fenwick game was coming off a 1-0 overtime win against Glenbard West where Meredith Blatner found the net with 36 seconds left in the extra period. "We are more mature than last year and have more skill on the ground. We play a possession game and are learning to attack with different options."
Prior to Thursday's loss, the Huskies hadn't suffered a defeat since their season opener against Naperville Central on March 12, a 2-0 shutout at home.
Both teams kicked off the Pepsi Showdown Tournament on Saturday. Fenwick edged Stevenson 3-2 in overtime. Jackie Mannion scored the game winner two minutes into the extra period. Hillsman scored two goals for the Friars in the second half. OPRF suffered a 5-1 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South in the opening round at Olympic Park in Schaumburg. The teams continue to compete in the tournament this week.