Boys Soccer bested in 3-1 loss to Whitney Young


Mara Mellits

Simon Olson (#25) after booting the ball.

By Aidan Sadovi, Managing Editor

In a heated clash of tactical styles, Whitney Young’s counter-attacking pragmatism won out over Lane Tech’s patient possession in a 3-1 conference defeat for the home boys soccer side.

Lane senior Josue Ramirez’s usually press-resistant dribbling was no match for the double-and triple-teams that awaited him as he received the ball in midfield in the first minutes of the game.

“That was the plan,” Whitney Young coach Ross Labauex said postgame. “Their best players play in the middle, we had to force them wide. And yeah, it worked.”

As the game progressed, however, Lane cemented more of a presence in midfield.

But once Whitney Young won the ball, they were wasteful with their possession. Instead of echoing the Lane style of creating moves from short vertical and horizontal passes out of defense and through the arteries of midfield, Whitney center-backs quickly booted long passes to strikers up the field once they received possession. Lane defenders then swept up and recycled the ball back to their defenders and midfielders, who were trying to penetrate a stubborn Whitney defensive block with some positive passing and probing through-balls.

Lane did seem to have the upper hand until the eighth minute of the first half, when a good stretch of Whitney combination play along the sideline won them a corner. Passed short to an onrushing Whitney player who then quickly crossed into the box, the ball hit a Whitney head in a cluster of players, before being deflected by a Lane defender and hitting the back of the net.

Lane responded with equal determination. After the team had a stretch of some wayward passing and tentative shots, Lane senior Thurston Page was in the clear thanks to a breakaway and some progessive passing from midfield, before seeing a shot blocked by a Whitney defender.

Also in the box was Lane senior Ryan Hardgrove, whom Coach Ricks had previously told to take up a higher, more central position closer to the goal. Hardgrove poached the deflected shot, heading into an open goal to the dismay of some stunned Whitney defenders.

Around the 18th minute, Whitney launched a free kick towards a crowded penalty box, with an initial deflection collected by goalkeeper Efram Stewart. A Whitney player who initially pounced on the rebound was taken down, and a penalty was called. Both sidelines shouted encouragement before the player shot the ball into the upper left side of a rippling net, scoring the penalty and lifting Whitney back up 2-1.

After long stretches of Lane possession and a trading of corner kicks between both sides, a repeat of the second goal looked to be in the cards in the 27th minute. Whitney sent another long free-kick from midfield, hitting a Whitney head, before Stewart stretched out a big paw for a reflex save. The rebound shot to the right of the goal was decisively blocked by a cadre of sliding Lane defenders, and out for a corner.

In the waning minutes of the first half, senior John Durack seemed to stop a Whitney fast break with a scruffy tackle, until a Whitney forward pick-pocketed him in Lane’s own half. As the forward charged toward the goal, he evaded a couple Lane defenders and the goalkeeper, before Whitney passed into an open net, and Lane found themselves behind 3-1 at the 40 minute mark.

In the last extra time of the half Lane just couldn’t get through Whitney’s defense.

“When you dig a hole for yourself at 2-1, 3-1, it’s hard to get out of,” Coach Ricks said postgame.

In the second half, things started to look more auspicious for Lane. After some good stretches of possession in defense, culminating with some accurate vertical passes to the wingers, junior Kamil Pluta curled in a good-looking cross that flew over Whitney and Lane heads alike, eventually finding unmarked junior Henry Winston at the far post, who looked to have just received one of the better chances of the evening. Winston volleyed the cross a little high though, but Lane could jump on the rebound, until it was eventually cleared away.

Around the 60th minute, Lane players seemed to have found more joy going through the now soft Whitney midfield. But Hardgrove and Winston both found their crosses and powerful shots, borne out of smart possession, to be cleared away by the Whitney defense.

After a Whitney Young coach received a yellow card for complaining about what he thought was pushing during a Whitney corner kick, Lane still found themselves down 3-1.

In the 76th minute, senior Ridley Schumaker stepped up for a free kick just outside the 18-yard box, presenting an opportunity to claw back a point. But it wasn’t to be, as the free-kick didn’t dip quite enough to get on frame.

Good crosses and chances from senior Nico Wagner and junior Alan Zavala came and went, as the 90th minute edged closer. But Lane’s fight throughout the game was emphasized by the last-ditch tackling of Josue Ramirez, even in extra time.

“We had a lot of mistakes that we never really made before in this game, ” Henry Winston said postgame. “We weren’t able to come back from those.” He pointed to Whitney Young’s low defensive block as an issue, which the team had also struggled with in the game against Taft last week.

“I still felt we tried,” Coach Ricks said. “We still had the energy to try and win it, but it didn’t happen.”

Lane played a non conference game on the following Thursday evening against Morton High School (Cicero), falling 2-0 to stretch their loss streak to two, a season-long.

Lane (3-3-2, Chicago Public Premier North Conference) will continue conference play at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 20 against Lake View, at Lane Stadium. Whitney (3-4, 3-1) will take on Von Steuben next Monday on the road against Von Steuben at 4:30 p.m.