It hasn’t taken Maia Cella long to make an impact for the Evanston girls soccer team.
But just wait until the speedy freshman and her older teammates are all on the same page as far as strategy goes.
Cella scored her team-best third goal of the season and assisted on Evanston’s second goal Thursday night as the Wildkits blanked Stevenson 2-0 at Lazier Field.
Evanston, which has surrendered only one goal all season, improved to 4-1 overall. The Kits will host Glenbrook North Friday night in a Central Suburban League crossover game before next week’s spring break trip to Alabama.
Cella made a major impact despite not playing many minutes against Stevenson. After a couple of near breakaways against the Stevenson defense in the first 15 minutes, she stole the ball from Patriots’ defender Lily Zhang at the 15-yard line, dribbled in and beat goalie Maddy Boutros with a shot into the right corner.
She didn’t start the second half, but just six minutes after coming off the bench she was again in the right place at the right time. Boutros booted a goal kick directly at the ETHS freshman, who headed the ball back to teammate Morgan Muno to set up the clinching goal in the 58th minute.
Evanston chalked up its fourth shutout win of the young season as goalie Olivia Post was only required to make three saves.
Evanston head coach Maurizio Grillo limited Cella’s minutes because the physical adjustment to varsity soccer seems to be the only thing holding Cella back right now.
“She’s been beat up quite a bit, especially her knees. She’s proved already that she’s faster than the others (opponents) and she has to be stopped. So her knees are really exposed in some games, and tonight was a physical game,” Grillo pointed out.
“She can really be hard to contain, and the best is yet to be seen from her. She’s so gifted that you can give her the ball on speed. We’re going to work on looking to serve the ball more to her in practice. You could see Morgan (co-captain Muno) loudly dictating to her where to go at times tonight, so she could understand how we want to play better. No, we’re not all on the same page yet.
“Overall, this was a really good win for us. But I wasn’t satisfied with the way we played the last 15 minutes of the game. When you get up 2-0, why not get it to 3-0 or 4-0? Why not keep playing the way you have been?”
The Wildkits have played their last two games without the services of sophomore defender Kate Kremin, who was knocked out of the Loyola game (a 1-0 loss) with a severe concussion and is expected to miss several weeks. But the defense is still a solid unit, anchored by junior Jamie Donohue and sophomore Julia Kenney.
“I’m always concerned about our defense, especially on set pieces, because of the number of goals we gave up like that last year. It’s more of a mental thing than anything else,” Grillo said.
Source: ETHS Sports Information