Tyler goal lifts Wheaton North past Geneva
Wheaton North made its lone second-half shot on goal truly matter Friday night.
The Falcons' Monica Tyler blocked a Geneva clearing attempt and fired home an 18-yard off-footed blast to the upper-right corner of the Vikings' net to break a scoreless tie in Wheaton.
With its 1-0 victory at home over Geneva in pool-play action of the Naperville Invitational girls soccer tournament, Wheaton North improved to 6-3-1.
Geneva, which had far more legitimate scoring opportunities than Wheaton North, fell to 5-7 as the teams battled barely above-freezing temperatures, a biting wind and occasional snow showers.
"We were really excited (about this match)," Tyler said. "I tried to make the most of my opportunities. The outcome was successful. I really wanted (the score and win)."
The only score of the match came 12-plus minutes into the second half as Wheaton North not only braved the elements but also continued to lose starting players at an alarming rate.
Starting Wheaton North goalkeeper Jessica Kiely, who had the save of the match midway through the first half to deny the Vikings' Courtney Lardas, did not return after suffering an apparent shoulder injury as time expired at the end of the first 40 minutes of play.
Defender Emily Barry performed the Falcons' goalkeeper duties in the second half, but fellow back Linnae Giuliano also did not finish after leaving with a lower leg injury.
Top offensive threat, sophomore Lexi Pelafas, is still recovering from an ankle injury for the Falcons.
"It is to the point where I didn't know if we had enough players to come in off the bench," Wheaton North coach Tim McEvilly said. "(The starters and replacements) responded to the challenge extraordinarily."
Wheaton North had two quality scoring chances in the opening 90 seconds of play, but it was Geneva that would dominate time of possession in the opening half.
The Vikings had 7 shots before Wheaton North offered its first attempt; Amanda Lulek and Lardas, meanwhile, had golden opportunities for Geneva to break the scoreless first-half tie.
But Kiely saved four of Vikings' 10 first-half shots; the senior deftly punched away a rising rocket by Hope Goodman and denied Geneva once again only moments later on the subsequent corner kick.
"It's hard because we dominated a lot of the game," Lulek said. "Overall, our work ethic was great."
Time and again, as well, players from both teams found the synthetic surface, worsened by the precipitation, exceedingly difficult to navigate as the ball skidded unpredictably when attempting to pass.
"You have to be gentle on your touches," Lulek said.
Following the Tyler score, Lulek had a pair of excellent scoring chances fail to answer.
The first was saved by Barry, and the ensuing rebound went narrowly wide right.
"We need to finish (better)," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "We have to show up on the scoreboard."
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