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Article from Naperville Central Overtime Thriller

posted Apr 22, 2014, 12:02 PM by Aaron Press   [ updated Apr 22, 2014, 12:02 PM ]

By Darryl Mellema

The word “will” kept coming up after Monday’s thrilling Wheaton-Warrenville South victory over Naperville Central.

That word had been one of the focal points of Tigers coach Guy Callipari’s pregame team talk. The way the 81 minutes of play unfolded, the team needed every ounce of “will” it could muster.

Ultimately, the force of Wheaton-Warrenville South’s will paid off 18 seconds into the first sudden death overtime when Anna Fank moved past a defender, drove the ball into the net, then turned to meet her onrushing teammates in a happy huddle in the center of Red Grange Field.

“The whole game, that defender was grabbing and our coaches just told me I had to push through it and have will, which was our word for this game,” Fank said. “I just turned her fast and didn’t even fight with her. We were all determined to finish this game fast. I had the goal open, so I just took the shot.”

The DuPage Valley Conference victory was critical for the Tigers (5-4, 1-1). Having lost to Wheaton North already this season, a second loss would have severely dented hopes of competing for the conference title.

“It was a great feeling, especially because this was our second conference game,” Fank said. “We needed to win it to stay in the conference and to have a chance of winning it. We all knew we had to push through and when we saw the ball go in, we were all very enthusiastic.”

The match was a struggle for Wheaton-Warrenville South against one of the perennial powers in the DVC.  The Tigers fell behind 1-0 in the sixth minute of play when Naperville Central’s Abby Joyce moved infield and unleashed an unstoppable shot. While the Redhawks seldom threatened to add to their lead, it took Wheaton-Warrenville South time to push forward.

“We were playing well,” Wheaton-Warrenville South coach Guy Callipari said. “We were controlling the midfield and we were knocking it around. I told them to not play the clock, but to play Naperville Central, that they were in control and good things would happen.”

Eighteen minutes into the half, Erin Madigan went on a driving run into the Redhawks’ defense, and that move seemed to move the Tigers into a higher gear. Playing on the left side of the midfield, Madigan’s presence helped balance the team’s attack.

“I feel like we just got more relaxed and we were able to play the ball around their defense,” Madigan said. “Once our team gets relaxed and plays the ball and doesn’t hurry, we are able to open them up.”

As the match progressed, space began to open throughout the midfield as the distance between Naperville Central’s forwards and midfielders increased.  At the midpoint of the half, Wheaton-Warrenville South attacked with a sweeping move that began with Nicole Moline, Madigan and Alexis Jakuszewski combining with Caroline Holmes and Fank in the midfield. Eventually, Frank sent the ball to the right wing to Holmes, who crossed for Jakuszewski. Naperville Central’s defense cleared that chance – but the multi-player movement and the space allowed for that movement increased as the match progressed.

“(Callipari) changed the formation a bit and our centers were open the entire time,” Madigan said. “Once we started playing it in, we started getting shots. We were more free.”

Holmes was one whose role shifted through the match. She played as an attacking midfielder in the first half, but moved to play striker some in the second half. In both roles, she found time and space in which to move.

“(Naperville Central) is a great team, but they didn’t defend us as hard as I thought they would,” Holmes said. “We had room to turn them and play it wide. It was nice to be able to move around and to have the freedom. I’m a player who likes to be able to run. To be able to have that space to go in there was nice.”

Holmes was also dangerous from corner kicks, such as the right-sided kick she took 13 minutes before halftime that forced a goal line clearance.

As the second half progressed, despite trailing, the Tigers began to do most of the attacking. Twelve minutes into the half, Jakuszewski had a shot deflected. Minutes later, Holmes fed Fank, who shot narrowly wide.

With the midfield working into advanced positions, defenders such as right back Julia Hildebrand were able to move into attacking positions. She linked with Holmes and Jakuszewski frequently on the right wing and further pushed Naperville Central into a defensive posture.

“We knew this was going to be an intense game,” Hildebrand said. “Naperville Central’s a great team. But our word for the day was ‘will’ and I think we really pulled through with it. It’s great when we start to get space to play. I love how the team is shaping up.”

If Hildebrand moved forward, other defenders needed to remain in defensive positions, and Allison Harvey performed her central defensive role solidly. A sophomore, Harvey partnered another sophomore, Ava Fickle, in the heart of the defense in front of keeper Abbey Fuster.

“(Harvey) is so comfortable,” Callipari said. “She didn’t play the last two games. Her ankle’s been black and blue. Today, it’s better, but I was surprised with her mobility. And (Fickle) secures her. Those two qualify as a pretty good tandem centrally for us, even as young as they are. And then (left back) Rachel Erdman, despite being a freshman, doesn’t seem to be fazed in a game like this.”

Even holding midfielders such as Tori Adomshick were able to move into a more attacking role as the Tigers searched for the game-tying goal.

“They were more concentrating on (Jakuszewski) through the middle, and she was playing mainly as an offensive midfielder,” Callipari said. “Trying to get (Jakuszewski) off their best player and getting her to play higher. That left (Adomshick) with a lot of space and she had a great second half. She made some great decisions. She did less with the ball and more with the ball in terms of letting the ball do the work.”

With time beginning to become an issue, Wheaton-Warrenville South tied the match with 10 minutes left in regulation time. Rachel Erdman passed to Homes wide on the right side of midfield. Holmes sent Jakuszewski free on the right wing, then moved into the central penalty area. Jakuszewski sent the ball back to the middle toward Holmes, who scored.

“It was really difficult to go down 1-0 in the game,” Holmes said. “But we kept our concentration up. We definitely had the will to win and the desire to go for it. Even though it took us a long time, we deserved the goal that we got.”

The Tigers had chances to win the match in the final five minutes. Nicole Molino fed Jakuszewski for a strong shot; Madigan took a long shot and won a corner kick and Jakuszewski fed Madigan, who shot over the crossbar.

Then Fank scored 18 seconds into overtime and the Tigers celebrated. Wheaton-Warrenville South’s next match is Thursday against Neuqua Valley in group play in the Naperville Invitational. The teams kick off at 7 p.m. at Naperville Central. The Tigers second group match is also at Naperville Central, a noon contest on Saturday against Conant. The Tigers return to DVC action on Monday at home in a 6:30 p.m. match against Lake Park.

“We talked about how you can’t lose two games and be DVC champion,” Callipari said. “We mentioned coming into this game that, if we run the table, we still control our own destiny.”