For over an hour Monday night, Glenbrook North and Deerfield were goalless and neither looked like scoring.
Then, suddenly, the host Warriors pounded a pair of shots from outside the box into the net and picked up the 2-0 Central Suburban League North win.
A Spartans’ win would have given them a share of the CSL North. Instead GBN (19-4-2, 3-1-1) has just one win in its last four matches and will have to regain its confidence before next week’s regional.
On the opposite end, Deerfield (12-8-2, 4-1) has won five matches in a row, all shutouts, and moved up to second place in the conference.
“We’ve been talking about this game for so long,” Warriors’ sophomore Samara Haas said. “First it was Highland Park and then it was just to come out here and beat GBN. We knew that they were going for the conference title and we wanted to be up there in conference.”
Neither side threatened early on. The first half went by with only five shots on goal from the two teams.
GBN’s best portion of the match came at the beginning of the second half, with Ashley Kamin playing a role in most of the chances. However, Deerfield broke the deadlock in the 65th minute.
Audrey Rabushka found an open Leah Heller, who blasted a curving shot from almost 30 yards out over a diving Jen Liberman (7 saves).
The Warriors celebrated the lead with an extra excitement and added another goal less than ten minutes later. Haas nailed a low shot from outside the box that hit the inside of the post before going in.
“When we got that first goal we knew we were gonna get going and keep finishing,” Haas said. “That was the main turning point.”
Both goals came off quality finishes, something Heller said they lacked earlier in the season.
“We’ve got our group together and we know how to play well,” Heller said. “We’ve got our defense really solid and our offense has been working really hard to start finishing because that was our issue at the beginning of the season.”
The Spartans went into the match with starters Montana Paley, Maggie Doar and Stephanie Murthey all injured. Casey Kurz also picked up a knock on Monday and left late in the game.
Paley, Doar and Murthey are not expected back for the playoffs, meaning the team’s depth will be put to the test. GBN’s coaching staff is already shifting the lineup to see how the remaining players can best play together.
“We’re trying to make adjustments where necessary on our defense and on our offense,” assistant coach Maureen McDonaugh said. “Just trying to figure it out and get the girls to jell together in new positions.
“I think we just need to build our confidence back up.”
Samantha Lallas and Rachel Hirshman played up top with Kamin coming forward from the midfield. Despite a few forays into the box, the Spartans were unable to force Deerfield goalkeeper Skyllar Hughes (3 saves) into any tough saves. Warriors’ defenders Claire Mulert and Hayley Otto frustrated the Spartans all game long.
Deerfield is playing a lot better than the No. 15 seed they were given in the upcoming Glenbrook South Sectional. Frustrated with how his team was playing, coach Rich Grady benched a lot of his usual starters in a game against Warren April 29 and the Warriors haven’t lost since that game.
“I’m happy with how we played tonight,” Grady said. “Obviously, they were not at full strength. There’s a reason they’ve won as many games as they’ve won. I think any team would struggle when you’re missing the quality of players that they were missing tonight.”