Girls Soccer: Stalwart Liz Clark, Lake Forest stun Plainfield North
Updated: April 21, 2012 9:40PM
Liz Clark never felt so sure about something. “I just knew that I was going to get at every ball that came to me,” she said.
The junior Lake Forest keeper made a series of spectacular saves that repeatedly stymied Plainfield North’s high-powered attack as the No. 14 Scouts stunned the No. 4 Tigers 1-0 in a Pepsi Showdown semifinal Saturday at Olympic Park.
“That’s the greatest play we’ve ever had from her,” Lake Forest coach Ty Stuckslager said.
Lake Forest, an unheralded sixth-seed, advances to meet defending champion Loyola in Sunday’s final at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
Plainfield North controlled possession and created most of the match’s scoring opportunities. It was a freshman, forward Carly Hoke, who produced the only offense the Scouts (9-2-1) required.
With time running out in the first half, Hoke found herself in prime position to score. After senior forward Catherine Traut smashed a left-footed ball, Hoke alertly jumped on the ball and directed it in with a soft header.
The goal came in the 39th minute of the first half, with less than 15 seconds until halftime. “Catherine made a great cross to me, and I just had to make the play,” Hoke said. “Fortunately I was in the right spot and I made the play.”
Lake Forest’s other star performer was senior defender Marina Katz. She saved one goal in the first half by deflecting a header directly in front of the Scouts’ goal off a Plainfield North corner. Seemingly every time Plainfield North mounted a scoring chance, Katz disrupted the play.
“Marina Katz was outstanding,” Stuckslager said. “Her one-on-one defense was one of the differences in the game.”
Plainfield North coach Jane Crowe lamented her team’s sluggish first half play. “We were very flat in the first half, and we played better in the second half and created some scoring opportunities that we just did not do a good job of finishing,” she said.
Katz said the Scouts did not strategize to deny Plainfield North star Callie O’Donnell. “We didn’t want any of their players to get the ball,” Katz said. “If they did, we were going to stop them, and we knew that if any of them got behind us, Liz was there to stop every ball.
Clark did the rest. She made eight saves in the second half as a tired and mentally exhausted Scouts’ team clung to the narrow lead and Plainfield North (11-2-1) assumed an edge of desperation. She deflected a O’Donnell shot and pushed it wide right of the goal. In the 70th minute, she re-directed another point blank one-on-one shot. In posting her fifth shutout of the year, Clark made every deflection, block and save matter.
“Absolutely, I think it was the greatest game I’ve ever had,” Clark said.