Girls Soccer: Carmel comes oh so close in regional final
Maggie Karich of the Corsairs (left) tries to fend off Mundelein's Kelsey Hiegel during last week's regional semifinal at Glenbrook South. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:43AM
It could have been a game-changer. Instead, the ball drew iron.
At the 80-minute mark of Saturday’s Glenbrook South Regional title game between Carmel Catholic and the host Titans, the Corsairs’ Bri Carlson took a ball just in front of the GBS goalie box. She launched a strong shot that had just enough elevation to bounce off the crossbar. In the ensuing scramble, Glenbrook South controlled the ball, and the Corsairs’ attack was thwarted.
The exchange summed up the day for Carmel — close, but not good enough — as its season ended in a 2-0 loss. The Corsairs reached the title tilt by defeating Mundelein 2-0 in the regional semifinal on May 15.
“We could have easily gotten one back and made a go of it,” said Carmel coach John Halloran. “Then they start panicking a bit, and our energy goes up, and we start pushing for the second one. But it just wasn’t our day.”
But it easily could have been. Carmel almost got that elusive first goal twice in the game’s opening minutes, the other coming on an attempt by speedy forward Ashley Orth.
After surviving the Corsairs’ early charges, the Titans converted on the offensive end, making it 1-0 when Keeley Nolan blasted a ball past Carmel goalie Jenna Bauer in the game’s eighth minute.
Carmel was then forced the play from behind, a scenario not favorable against Glenbrook South’s deep, athletic midfield.
“They were fantastic in the middle on 50/50 balls. Almost every goal kick and punt we struggled with,” Halloran said. “Shaking hands with them at the end, almost half their team is taller than I am.”
Added Orth: “They had a lot of speed, we had a lot of speed, they were amazing in the air. That’s what caught us. We couldn’t keep up.”
After the Titans scored their second goal in the 46th minute, the Corsairs were in for a fight to save their season. Evoking the personality of their school mascot, a swashbuckling pirate, Carmel kept pressuring until the final whistle.
Still, the Corsairs reached new heights in wins this season (14), which raises expectations. Seniors Orth, Sarah McHugh, Maggie Karich, Shannon and Caitlin Jung leave a legacy of excellence, camaraderie and teamwork.
“We got this program back on track,” Orth said.
“They should walk out with heads up,” added Halloran. “In 16 years of coaching varsity soccer, it’s been one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had.”
Promising future: Among 18 roster spots, only five were filled by seniors in 2012, so the Corsairs should be deeper and more experienced next season. They will also have their coach full-time, as Halloran left the boys program to concentrate on the girls team.
“I’ll be able to put a little more commitment into it,” Halloran said. “I felt like I wasn’t giving 100 percent to either program. I think we’ll have a great summer. We’ll reload a couple of spots and be ready to rock.”