Nullified goal leads to first soccer loss of season

A referee’s call midway through the second half disallowed what could have been a game-tying goal for Evanston’s soccer team in a battle with arch-rival New Trier for the Central Suburban League South division championship Tuesday night at Lazier Field.

The Trevians capitalized on that call and added three more goals in a 4-0 triumph, handing the Wildkits their first loss of the season.

That nullified goal --- on a shot by senior forward Matthew Webley --- sent the hosts into a downward spiral as New Trier shut down the high-powered ETHS attack for the second year in a row.

Evanston fell to 11-1-1 overall and finished 4-1 in CSL South action. New Trier (11-1-3, 5-0) not only claimed the conference crown, but the Trevs also retained possession of the fire hydrant trophy awarded to the winner of the rivalry game and also likely nailed down the No. 1 seed for the Class 3A Glenbrook South Sectional tournament with the win.

New Trier also pulled even with the Kits in the all-time series standing between the two rivals. Both programs have 42 wins in the head-to-head matchup and the two teams have tied 22 times.

ETHS fell short in its bid for the first conference crown for the program since 2014.

“Now we have to get back to the drawing board,” said Evanston head coach Franz Calixte. “We were so close to winning the conference, we could smell it, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

“You don’t get too many chances to score in the game of soccer, and if we get that one goal --- if it isn’t taken away from us --- I think it’s a totally different game. But we have to be more resilient as a team. This was our first real test, and I don’t think we passed it.

“You have to give New Trier’s defense credit, especially in the second half, because they didn’t give us many gaps. They’re the most disciplined team we’ve faced.”

New Trier’s Ryan Ball scored on a left-footed blast following a restart in the 37th minute, but Evanston dialed up the offensive pressure to open the second half and dominated the first 20 minutes of play.

That second-half surge included several scoring opportunities for the hosts. A header by Frank Berkley, a deflection by Webley and a long ball from Teo Cook all missed the mark in a two-minute span, and then New Trier keeper Aidan Crawford showed off his vertical leap, knocking away a booming restart by Quinn Ackman that was on target from the 35-yard line.

Webley finally found the back of the net with 19 minutes, 45 seconds remaining, but New Trier defender Seth Babbitt was down on the turf at the 10-yard line, and instead of a game-tying goal, Webley was assessed a foul.

A subsequent Trevian free kick resulted in an “own goal” --- with a long ball bouncing off the head of a Wildkit defender past keeper Daniel Linder --- and the Trevs tacked on two legitimate goals down the stretch.

“We have to learn from a game like this,” Calixte said. “This will show us just what kind of character we have now.”    

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