Woodlands Academy of Lake Forest made a late first-half goal hold up to earn a 1-0 victory over Christian Liberty Academy Friday afternoon in a nonconference soccer match at the Chargers' stadium in Arlington Heights.
Freshman Meaghan Lanctot finished from close range at 36 minutes when a ball from out of the back was dropped into the area from the back line of the Wildcats (3-4-0).
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"It was a great effort out there from a team which is obviously showing the effects of playing three games this week, and a short bench, which doesn't really allow us to give many players a few minutes of rest," said Chargers coach Aaron DeRidder, whose club lost on the road at Rockford Christian Life on Thursday (2-1) after defeating Lake Forest Academy's second team (4-1) earlier in the week.
"Despite the loss today, we've come a long way in just a couple of weeks. And if you remember that we are so young, I can tell you I am very proud of the way we played this week, and during the last several games as well."
The visitors gave the hosts plenty of trouble in the opening quarter hour of play thanks in part to junior Morgan Kohlmeyer, who ran the attack from from the middle, and teammate Charlotte McMenamin-Walshe, who as a natural left footer on the outside provided terrific service and a quality shot from her spot on the left side.
Chargers keeper Cassie Swiderek, who continues to get better with each outing, was called into the action to save shots on frame from both players mentioned above, including including a nicely struck ball from Kohlmeyer at 28 minutes.
The best chance of the first half for the Chargers fell to Alysia Jeffery, who watched Woodlands keeper Jen Slaughter use her exceptional height to pull down a drive from 25 yards.
"We looked a little tired toward the end of the first half, but we came out and played so much better in the second half, especially in the back where Sophie (Beal) and Cassie were just great, and Danielle (Chaires) and Eve Rho did so well, which helped me get into the attack a lot more," said sophomore Maddie Bennett, whose pace and energy during another 80-minute performance was all the more impressive when you consider the Chargers co-captain played every field position for her club.
"I was a little tired today for sure," said Bennett, "but even though we lost, I am so proud of the way we played. We're so young and inexperienced, but I can see the improvement from everyone, and it's just a great team to be a part of."
When Bennett was moved into the middle, the attack came alive for the Chargers (5-3-0).
Sam Amedin got free up the left side and forced a save from Slaughter at 51 minutes. Minutes later, Bennett beat two defenders -- but not Slaughter, who came off her line to stop a potential equalizer.
Swiderek's best save of the day turned a wicked drive from Maddy Morris up and over the bar in the 69th minute to help keep the Chargers within range.
A final chance to get even came with three minutes remaining in regulation, when Amedin ran onto a ball over the top from Rho -- but the Woodlands back line did well to close in on the hard-running sophomore.
"We probably should have scored a few more times today, but it was a good win in a very competitive game," said Woodlands coach Matt Wilen. "We were regional champs last year but lost many players from that roster. But I feel this group has as much talent, if not more, than any other group I've had since taking over five years ago."
Next up on the Chargers' schedule is Schaumburg Christian, on Monday.
"We've got another busy week coming up with three more games, so we've got to get our two injured players back and just keep on playing and improving like we have been," said DeRidder.