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Late strike allows North to tie East

ST. CHARLES – It was shaping up to be a night to forget for Sophie Pohl and the St. Charles North girls soccer team.

Crosstown rival St. Charles East outplayed North much of the game Tuesday, and Pohl, one of North’s top scoring options, was having an especially maddening time trying to keep the ball at her feet.

“The ball, it would hit me in bad places, my touches were off,” Pohl said. “It wasn’t clicking for me. Offensively, we weren’t connecting, so it was just frustrating. Toward the end I think we were starting to take more advantage of opportunities, but it just took awhile.”

Pohl and North had just enough time to make amends. The Toledo recruit is reputed for her rocket shot, but she opted for finesse in chipping a mid-range shot beyond the reach of Saints goalkeeper Kendra Sheehan with 3:09 to play in the match, enabling the host North Stars to tie the Saints, 1-1.

“With her shot, that’s one thing for her that’s always consistent, is that shot,” North coach Ruth Vostal said. “It worked out. A couple of times we put her in the midfield where she has a little bit more space in front of her, and it just so happened with that switch where we put her in there, she took the opportunity to take that shot.”

Freshman Amanda Czerniak was credited with an assist on Pohl’s goal.

East (7-1-3, 2-0-1 Upstate Eight Conference River) was mostly downcast afterward, understandably irked to settle for a tie on a night when the Saints dictated much of the play.

“The first half I thought we were fantastic, the second half I thought we were even better,” East coach Paul Jennison said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t kill them off. Fair play to North, one thing they’re never going to do is give up. That’s what Ruth and her team’s spirit is all about. They kept going, they kept going.”

East’s goal materialized with 8:36 to play in the first half as junior forward Darcy Cunningham finished off a sharp passing sequence featuring connections from Shannon Rasmussen to Julia Peterson, then on to Cunningham, who capitalized from close range.

Cunningham beat North goalkeeper Shelby Stitz, who left the match early in the second half. Stitz hobbled off with an apparent ankle injury, having landed awkwardly in traffic after pursuing a high ball in the box.

“I’m sure she’ll be fine. It just wasn’t a play that I was happy to see,” Vostal said.

North (8-2-1, 3-0-1 UEC River) turned to sophomore Alexa Lievrouw in goal the rest of the match, although with the North Stars channeling a sense of urgency in the late stages, the Saints were unable to force the sophomore into many challenging spots.

For most of the night, however, East appeared poised to turn the tables on North, which has enjoyed the upper-hand in the crosstown rivalry on most occasions in recent years.  

“We were first to every ball,” Saints senior midfielder Amanda Hilton said. “We played our hearts out. Hey, it’s not a loss, so we’re not going to hang our heads. We’re going to move forward.”

Jennison thought Tuesday’s performance bodes well for the Saints.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the girls,” Jennison said. “I thought that was an absolutely fantastic play. I thought we were excellent. If we play like that every game, it’s going to be a good finish to the season.”

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