The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls soccer team rallied for a 2-1 victory over Fenwick High School in a Crosstown Showdown March 16 at Concordia University.
Junior forward Grace Kapsch gave Fenwick (0-2) the lead in the first half with a header off an assist from junior Susie Shank, but OPRF (1-0) tied things with 16 minutes left on a goal by junior midfielder Keira Kleidon off an assist by senior forward Kiki Leman.
Then with about 5 minutes to play, Huskies’ senior midfielder Cate Ryan scored the game winner.
“It was the first game and we had to get the jitters out,” OPRF coach Christie Johnston said. “After some adjustments, I think we dominated the second half.”
OPRF has 10 seniors on this year’s team. The Huskies’ top returnees besides Kleidon and Ryan are sophomore forward Addison Bliss; junior forward Lilah Malik, who missed most of last season due to injury; seniors defenders Kylie Houghton and Tess Wright; and Leman, who scored nine goals in 2022.
Hoping to make an impact for OPRF are midfielder Abby Cockerill and forward Genevieve Simkowski, both sophomores.
“The goal is to have a positive environment and have fun while doing so,” Johnston said. “We had a great start to the season and are excited for what’s to come.”
OPRF’s match at Niles West on March 18 was postponed due to cold weather. The Huskies are scheduled to return to the pitch against visiting Nazareth Academy on March 28.
“Having this time off allows us to tweak the things we need to focus on more,” Johnston said.
While disappointed with the loss to OPRF, Fenwick coach Craig Blazer thought his team put in a solid effort.
“The girls came out and started well,” he said. “We showed a lot of improvement, and that was very encouraging. We defended pretty well. We just didn’t finish our chances offensively.”
Having lost 11 players from last year’s team, which finished fourth in IHSA Class 2A with an 13-8-2 record, the Friars figured to have a bumpy start this year. Fenwick also lost its season opener March 14 at IC College Prep 3-0.
Among Fenwick’s returnees are Kapsch, junior midfielders Fiona Roche and Maddie Rogowski and senior defender Ellie Dvorak. Top newcomers include Shank, a midfielder/forward, along with three freshmen, midfielder Mary Brunick, defender Lola Martinez and goalkeeper Margaret Price, who made nine saves against OPRF.
“Margaret is an athlete and competitor,” said Blazer. “She’s learning quickly and going to improve game to game.”
Fenwick’s match against visiting Downers Grove North on March 18 was also postponed due to weather.
Trinity matches 2022 win total in first game
Trinity High School started the season with a 6-0 shutout of Rauner College Prep of Chicago on March 16. Freshman forward Grace Ramel scored three goals, while classmate Natalie Linares added two.
The Blazers’ outburst was a welcome sight for second-year coach Alex Hurtado, who believes more consistent scoring would go a long way in improving last season’s record of 1-12-1.
“Our team had a high number of chances on goal [last year], but we failed to convert several of these chances into goals,” he said. “We need to keep our composure and improve our finishing.”
Sophomore Lesly Guerra, who scored against Rauner, had six goals last year for Trinity. With seven freshmen and 15 sophomores on the roster, continued development is the Blazers’ main goal this spring.
“This is a team with a youthful foundation and desire to win,” Hurtado said. “They will only continue to improve as they gain continuity playing with one another.”