The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls soccer team came into a key West Suburban Silver match May 3 against Lyons Township High School hoping to snap a three-match losing streak.
But the Huskies saw the streak extend to four as Caroline Mortonson’s two second-half goals gave the Lions a 2-0 victory at Oak Park Stadium.
“We had our moments and played well in the first half against a top contender in our conference,” said OPRF coach Christie Johnston. “But we need to keep focusing on what we’re trying to accomplish and stick to our plan. We had opportunities, but just couldn’t capitalize and finish.”
OPRF (10-7, 3-3 in West Suburban Silver) and LTHS played a scoreless and competitive first half. Huskies goalkeeper Lilah Gery came up with a pair of huge saves on the Lions’ Katie O’Malley and Eleanor Musgrove within the first 10 minutes of the second half as LTHS (16-1, 5-0) started to dominate possession.
“We got a little tighter in the midfield and talked about winning 50/50 balls,” said LTHS coach Bill Lanspeary of the second-half adjustments.
OPRF sophomore forward Lilah Malik had the team’s best chance to score six minutes later but was denied by LTHS goalkeeper Izzy Lee, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign signee.
“Lilah just returned from an injury suffered in the first match of the season,” Johnston said. “It’s great to have her back with us. We can use her speed and length up top.”
Lee’s save was pivotal because with 21:22 left, Mortonson burst up the middle and beat Gery for a 1-0 lead the Lions would keep the balance of the match.
“She’s come up huge for us this year,” said Lanspeary of the freshman, who has nine goals and four assists.
The Huskies started bringing numbers forward in an effort to generate more offensive chances against a stout LTHS defense. But they were unsuccessful, and Mortonson’s second goal with 4:46 left sealed the outcome.
“They pushed us for sure,” Lanspeary said. “They were quick in transition and dangerous. It was a tough battle.”
On May 5, OPRF was blanked by host Glenbard West 4-0 to extend the losing streak to five. Johnston knows the Huskies are in a difficult stretch, but she’s also confident they can get out of it soon.
“It’s going to take us sticking together and knowing we are a good team,” she said. “All we can do is worry about the things we can control during every single practice and game.” OPRF will have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments. The next match for the Huskies, who are seeded fourth in the IHSA Class 3A New Trier Sectional, will occur on May 18, when they host Niles North in a regional semifinal. Should OPRF prevail, fifth-seeded New Trier is the likely opponent for the regional title May 20.