Wheaton Warrenville South is going to do a lot of learning on the field this season.
The Tigers might collect far more wins than losses when all is said and done this spring, but they're likely to suffer their share of setbacks and losses too.
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Playing for just the third time this spring, the Tigers hosted defending Class 3A champion Naperville North on Thursday in a DuPage Valley Conference contest in Wheaton.
Although they battled to a scoreless tie to halftime, the Tigers surrendered a pair of late second-half goals and dropped a 2-0 decision.
"I thought for the first 20 minutes we stood toe to toe with them," Tigers coach Guy Callipari said. "But then they got intimidated. (Naperville North) started coming over the top a bit, coming in late, bouncing us and kicking up high and our kids didn't want a piece of that."
The Tigers had as many as four freshmen on the field at one time and feature a roster of 10 underclassmen.
Naperville North (2-0-1, 2-0-0) was without its star offensive player, Zoe Swift, who is nursing a sprained ankle. Still, the Huskies created their share of scoring chances. They didn't deliver until they were blessed with a second consecutive corner kick with 26:38 left in the contest.
Senior Christa Szalach's initial header from Cora Climo's corner kick was batted away by Tigers freshman defender Allie Harvey and junior goalkeeper Abbey Fuster. Climo's second corner kick came from the opposite side of the north end of the field and was placed perfectly for Szalach.
Szalach maneuvered through a crowd, dove head first and rocketed the ball clearly out of the reach of Fuster.
"It's one of those things I work on a lot so I was glad to see one of them pay off," she said. "Cora fed such a great ball that I had to make sure to get my head on it."
Wheaton Warrenville South (1-2-0, 1-1-0) didn't have any success in countering with the equalizer and was unable to challenge the Huskies in dangerous areas of the field.
"Once they got the lead there it was a tough challenge for the kids," Callipari said. "We didn't stop fighting, though, so I was happy with how they worked until the very end."
Claire Hilburger sent a cross to Abbie Boswell with less than 13 minutes left to give the Huskies an insurance goal, which they ultimately wouldn't need. It was Boswell's third goal of the week.
"I know I have to step up and score more goals with Zoe out," she said. "I just hope to do better than last year."