As talented as the / girls soccer teams are, and, as personal as the rivalry is, anyone attending a match not planning ahead for overtime is probably kidding themselves.
The two DuPage Valley Conference rivals played a typical Central/North game Saturday afternoon, finishing in a 1-1 tie after regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime frames.
The tie leaves both teams at 3-0-1 in DVC play and in position to eventually share the conference crown when it’s all said and done.
“Every time, it doesn’t seem to matter,” North coach Brent Terada said. “It always feels very, very even when it comes down to it. The kids bring maximum effort. They take a lot of pride in this rivalry. Neither team wants to end up on the short side of it. That’s what you get, games like this.”
After a scoreless first half, North (6-3-1 overall) took the advantage at the 35:30 mark of the second half. Christa Szalach got a head on another masterful long throw-in from senior Kirsten Anderson and got it past Central goalie Jill D’Amico for the 1-0 lead.
“That was a great throw by Kirsten, right to me,” Szalach said. “It was picture perfect. I didn’t look at Jill, but I already knew that she was in the center (of the net). I flicked it far and hoped it would go in.”
Central (9-4-2) didn’t wait long to respond. The Redhawks’ equalizing goal didn’t seem to be a legitimate scoring chance at all. Krissy Many had the ball 45 yards away from the goal. But she lofted a shot toward the goal, got a great bounce and saw it wind up in the back of the net to tie the game with 28:06 left in the second half.
“Give Krissy credit,” Central coach Ed Watson said. “She didn’t know that it was going to do what it did, but that was her intent. She was trying to make the goalkeeper save the ball. A lot of times people say that’s a garbage goal. That wasn’t a garbage goal. The game plan was to make their goalkeeper touch the ball.”
Central never really threatened offensively again, but North had a chance in each overtime period. The most significant chance came from junior Hunter Drendel with 5:20 left in the second OT. Her direct kick from 15 yards out looked to be placed perfectly, but it nicked the bottom of the crossbar and went straight down, keeping the game tied.
“My thoughts on that couldn’t be written in the paper,” Many joked when asked what her reaction to the play was at the time. “We trust Jill back there. We got lucky that she hit the crossbar, but everybody was back there defending.”
The Huskies’ other solid chance came 1:50 into the first overtime when D’Amico saved another Szalach header off an Anderson throw-in.
Despite the physical nature of the game, players who come together to play for various club teams in the off-season embraced on the field, friends again after 100 minutes of battle.
“It’s definitely frustrating because you want the upper hand, but a tie is really the best result that suits both teams because we both want to beat each other,” Many said.