Girls soccer: Laney Stark’s early goal is difference maker as St. Charles North takes down St. Charles East

St. Charles North’s Kayla Floyd (left) celebrates with teammate Laney Stark (right) after Stark’s goal during a Tri-Cities Night game against St. Charles East at St. Charles North on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

SAINT CHARLES – All St. Charles North needed was seven minutes for a goal.

After that, it was a fight to make sure the lead never wavered.

The North Stars stifled St. Charles East’s hot offense with a 1-0 victory over their crosstown rival during Tri-Cities night Tuesday.

The North Stars were coming off of a 3-0 loss to Waubonise Valley on Saturday. North coach Brian Harks said that the win over their crosstown rival was a complete team effort.

“I think the team showed a lot of trust in one another and they bought the effort and energy the entire night,” Harks said. “I mean, you knew there was going to be a lot of energy just because it’s a crosstown classic, but the girls stepped up and executed when necessary.”

Laney Stark scored the game-winning goal in the seventh minute of play. After a foul put the North Stars in the left corner, Juliana Park found Stark in the box, and the Wisconsin-Green Bay commit redirected the shot with her stomach and put the ball into the back of the net to give the North Stars the lead.

“I think the goal changed the momentum right from the beginning because we’ve been having trouble scoring lately,” Stark said. “I think that goal right away gave us that mentality that we could win the game.”

After the early goal, North (8-2-4, 2-1-1 DuKane conference) had the simple goal of making sure East didn’t tie the game in the final 73 minutes. Harks said that while winning the 50-50 balls and controlling the air game was a big key to the win, it was the defense and goalkeeping that ultimately secured it.

“Our backline and goalkeeper were super disciplined and composed throughout the night,” Harks said. “Even when there were a ton of bodies in the box, our goalie went out to make the simple play, and I thought that was nice.

East (12-2-3, 2-1) suffered its first loss since a 3-0 loss to Crystal Lake Central on March 19. During that streak, the Saints went 10-0-2.

“We competed today, but I think they just outworked us overall,” Saints coach Vince DiNuzzo said. “We took a step back today, but that game could have gone either way. I think they outplayed us, but the game wasn’t night and day.”

DiNuzzo said that while the lossless streak came to an end against their crosstown rival, a lot of his starters got their first taste of playing against the crosstown rival.

“You don’t realize how big of a moment that is for these kids, but it means a lot to them,” DiNuzzo said. “These minutes will help these younger starters down the road when we hopefully see them again.”