Girls soccer notes: Morton, even without its one-two punch, piecing together win streak

Mustangs have won three straight heading into WSC Gold match with Addison Trail

Morton's Carisma Rosales (21) chases the ball down the sidelines during soccer match between Morton at Willowbrook.  April 15, 2024.

So much in life relies on good timing and that includes girls soccer.

Morton lost standout senior center midfielder Carisma Rosales with an ankle injury to open the season. When Rosales finally returned in the team’s sixth game, senior forward Aaliyah Leanos went down with a stress fracture.

Ouch. Ugh.

“So we haven’t had our one-two punch yet,” Morton coach Jim Bageanis said. “[Leanos] is due back possibly this week. She goes to the ortho this week, but I’m not holding my breath. She’s been running on it, but doesn’t go full speed yet so she has a bit of a road back.”

Morton (10-6, 3-0), which compiled a 17-6 record last season, has pieced together a nice six-game winning streak including a 2-1 victory over Addison Trail on April 23.

With multiple players usually blanketing her because of how dangerous she is, Rosales is carrying a huge load as a senior leader for a young team while trying to overcome the injury.

“She’s getting a little better each game,” Bageanis said. “Our younger players are trying to improve. It’s been a process. I think we still have potential to do well, to do better in conference. A big goal of the girls is to win conference.”

Junior defensive midfielder Stephanie Salmeron and sophomore Katina Estrada are a couple of players who have stepped up for the Mustangs.

“We’ve had [Estrada] playing back line as center back and up top as forward,” Bageanis said. “She’s had to move around wherever we need to and is very coachable, accepting any role we give her.”

Salmeron is in her third year with the Mustangs.

“She’s kept the defensive midfield intact for us,” Bageanis said. “She’s doing well. We’re hoping we can get her some help in possessing the ball. We’ve been out-possessed.”

Records aren’t everything

St. Francis (3-5-2) defeated host Mother McAuley 4-1 on April 23.

The Spartans have shared the field with some big schools and perennial powers. Losses have come to Evanston, Fenwick, Libertyville, Naperville Central and Naperville North.

The Spartans dropped all three of their games in the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic.

“We played St. Ignatius before those games and tied 1-1 (April 4),” Spartans coach Jim Winslow said. “We played very well. We outshot them but just didn’t put away opportunities and then we lost in the last minute and a half to Naperville North.”

A stomach bug invaded the team, which made playing all the more challenging.

“The irony is one of my kids left practice on [April 5] because she wasn’t feeling well and my son goes there [to St. Francis] and he came home and said there’s a stomach bug and everyone is going to get this,” Winslow said. “We had two or three kids on [against Naperville North] that didn’t have it.”

Ideally, the Spartans would have loved to have finished 1-1-1 in the Deep Dish Classic.

“0-3 is a little hard to swallow,” Winslow said. “But we’ll see if the schedule pays off in the end. And all of those games except for Libertyville have been away.”

Transportation to opponents, especially when it includes destinations in Chicago, hasn’t made things any easier either.

“Since the pandemic, we’ve struggled with bus service,” Winslow said. “It’s gotten better than it was a year ago, but it’s not what it used to be and with city schools like DePaul [College Prep] and De La Salle, I never would’ve guessed in a million years that it would be easier to get to Fenwick and St. Ignatius.”

Strong season for Hinsdale Central

West Suburban Silver rivals Hinsdale Central (12-4, 2-1) and Lyons (12-2-2, 3-0) squared off April 23 in Western Springs in a key conference battle. Lyons won 2-1.

Hinsdale Central had shut out Sandburg 4-0 on April 19 and Neuqua Valley 2-0 on April 18 before the Lyons game.

“We have a lot of faith in our group,” Red Devils coach Tony Madonia said. “They are great athletes, but also wonderful students, community members and young ladies who are having a heck of a lot of fun this season together. They continue to impress us, assistant coach Mike Gross and me, both on and off of the field.”

Hinsdale Central tied Barrington 0-0 on April 25 and fell 2-0 to New Trier on April 27. Barrington (12-1-2) was the Class 3A state runner-up last season.

“The way we design our schedule, like many teams, puts us in these types of games versus top quality opponents on purpose,” Madonia said. “It is what prepares you to win seven in a row come the state series.”

Extra kicks

Lyons (12-2-2) has suffered two losses this season – a 2-1 loss to Evanston on April 11 in the semifinals of the Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic hosted by New Trier and a 1-0 loss to Benet on April 25 in the semifinals of the The Ed Watson Naperville Invite.

Lyons beat Fenwick 4-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 tie and beat Fremd 1-0 in pool play in the tournament. Benet beat Naperville Central 2-1 and blanked Oswego 1-0 to advance to the semifinals.

In a big East Suburban Catholic Conference rivalry game, Benet (11-3-1, 5-0) topped St. Viator 4-2 on April 23. St. Viator was 10-1 going into the game.

“I think timely scoring is really important, especially early goals and being able to defend as a team,” Benet coach Gerard Oconer said about the season. “We showed that we could kind of grind out close games. We’ve really been able to work through things and sometimes you’ve got to win a bit ugly, too.”

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a contributor to Shaw Local