Back to the place where he cut his coaching teeth, first-year head coach Jeff Bishop enjoyed a homecoming of sorts after watching his team from Maine West roll over Maine East 6-0 on a cold, rainy Tuesday afternoon in Park Ridge.
The visiting Warriors (4-7-1) shrugged off a slow start and stormed into the lead with consecutive goals from Alice Faraone. Maine West used another by Alexia Prosperi at the half-hour to put away its crosstown rival for good.
Contact information ( * required )
"East was playing without a couple of key players, including their starting keeper," said Bishop, who assisted for five years in Maine East boys program before taking over at West for the spring season. "But I thought Stephanie (Nikho) did a good job in there, and I thought they played hard for 80 minutes. To be honest, this might have been our most complete overall effort of the season.
"I have a lot of respect for Julie (Dickinson) and what she does as the head coach here at Maine East, so I knew that they would be ready for us today. But we finally finished our chances, which is something we've had a tough time doing thus far."
The Blue Demons (0-7-1) threatened in the early stages by playing through both Kathy Janik and Aornina Abram, with both players having a go on keeper Taylor Iaculla against the run of play.
However, when the Warriors backline led by veterans Bridget Burger and Kelsey Webb helped clamp down on the Blue Demons' striking duo and Maine West began to win balls at midfield and find Joanne Stanfa and Faraone on a regular basis, it became mostly one-way traffic for the visitors.
Faraone set the tone when she thumped a header into the back of the net after Stanfa and Cyndi Delgado helped set the sophomore up in close. Some 10 minutes later, Faraone doubled the lead after Nikho's initial save led to a rebound goal.
The Warriors poured forward as the force of the rain picked up, and came close to making it 3-0 after a nice 1-2 combination from Sandra Reyes and Faraone was sent wide. Gina Mando got free and in on Iaculla, but Burger tracked back smartly and blocked the low drive before it got on frame.
Moments later, Prosperi took advantage of Nikho's inexperience between the sticks and chipped over the Blue Demons keeper, who'd wavered far off her line.
"It was great to see the girls create a lot of opportunites and put a few of them into the back of the net," said Bishop. "The same thing happened recently against Waukegan and Niles North, and we couldn't finish then -- so maybe putting a few of these in will help our confidence next time out."
Kelly Adamek, Burger and Stanfa would add to the Blue Demons' woes after the break, with both Burger and Stanfa each stinging the gloves of Nikho with near post shots that found their way over the end line.
Bishop brought off many of his starters after Stanfa's goal at 62 minutes, and give his bench nearly 20 minutes to finish things up and preserve the shutout.