You can throw out the season records when cross-town rivals Grayslake North and Grayslake Central meet in any sporting event. Because you are going to see two teams get after it with their best efforts. The Knights were looking to upset the Rams and played the game of their lives for 120 plus minutes. After 4 scoreless overtimes, many of the fans stood up and applauded the incredible effort and stamina of the girls on both teams.
Now the game was going to be decided by a shootout. Each team would pick 5 members to kick from the PK distance while each team’s goalie would take turns defending. What goes through a goalie’s mind at this point of a match?
Here’s what Central’s Kat Dickson had to say, "I was thinking that as seniors we’ve been to this point 3 times before and lost. Not this time. There is no way that I am ending my high school career with a loss in the Regional Championship."
After the officials had clarified the rules and procedures for the shootout, North’s Kim Shurtliff calmly strode forward and struck a clean ball that blew by a charging Kat Dickson and into the net.
The Rams Skyler Jessop blasted a shot past the diving arms of North’s Brooke Sauer. North defender Katie McGrath blasted a shot that Central’s Kat Dickson miraculously stopped. Rams fans were going wild, until Kelly Jay hit a rocket that bounced off of the left post and back across the goal line without crossing it. The shootout was tied again 1-1.
North Freshman Kendall Detweiler laced a blast that Kat Dickson reacted to with uncanny reflexes in another incredible save. Colleen Daly of the Rams powered a shot that Brooke Sauer stopped showing her own acrobatic agility as a goalie.
The Knights Liz Steinhoff was stopped by Central's pouncing Kat and then Allie Black of the Rams found an opening with a strong kick past Sauer. The Rams are up 2-1. In comes junior defender Andrea Lamb, who had played like a lion. Taking a breath she made her approach and sent the tying goal past Kat Dickson.
It all came down to Savannah Mudd of Central and goalie Brooke Sauer of North. Mudd hit her shot to the left and it just went past the outstretched fingers of a diving Sauer as the Lady Rams won their first ever Regional Championship.
While the Rams were piling on to each other, Sauer’s teammates immediately came up to congratulate her as the pent up emotions and energy of the match burst forth. Every single one of her teammates put an arm around her or hugged her or told her that they were proud of her efforts. No one blamed her, but rather they exalted her. The North girls clearly showed the team chemistry and support for each other that led them to this incredible match.
Melissa Hohensee, Kendall Detweiler, Andrea Lamb, Lyz Steinhoff, Chelsea Olson, Katie McGrath, Kim Shurtliff, Chloe Basa, Jaclyn Brennan and Katie Lahera played hard, aggressive, clean defense that stymied every attack of the Rams. They challenged every loose ball, every ball in the air for 120 minutes of all-out, take-no-prisoners soccer.
"You have to give North their props, especially on defense. They never gave us anything and contested every ball," said Central’s Dickson.
The conditioning and competitiveness that the girls on both teams displayed last night was simply amazing. Many a fan was saying that was the greatest high school soccer match they had ever seen. Fans just shook their heads at the effort of every single player to compete for over two hours under playoff pressure.
"It was a complete team effort tonight. We couldn’t have done it without the depth of our bench. Those girls came in and gave us valuable minutes and brought the energy that we needed. These girls play for each other and they are so supportive of each other," said Central assistant varsity coach, Bethany Russ.
"What an exciting match!" said Central’s Coach Mike McCaulou. "Now you know why my hair is turning gray and I’m going bald! North did the job against us defensively. We just could not finish our opportunities and we had so many of them. But we’re moving on."
"It was a physical game, but those are the exciting ones. North never gave up. I give them a lot of credit because they played hard and pushed our girls to their limits," said Russ.
The Rams move on to the Lakes Sectional and play on Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of today’s Lakes-Richmond Burton match.