As June starts to reach its conclusion, the Rooks have found themselves to be a part of many tough competitions.
Men's First Team vs. Steel City FC: 1-0 W
50' M. Kamil
Women's First Team vs. FC Barrington (Illinois State Cup): 2-0 W
7' N. Dominguez
76' L. Hall
Women's First Team vs. Indiana Union: 5-1 L
45' A. Buechel
Men's NSL Team vs. AFC Roscoe: 2-0 L
The Men's First Team starting 11 line up on Saturday. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Men's First Team
The Men's first team won a hard fought battle against Steel City FC Saturday night at the Fire Pitch thanks to a cooperative team goal had the Rooks winning 1-0. Entering the game, both teams shared tight possession as they clashed in the midfield. Excellent defending from both sides kept away any goal attempts. For the Rooks, David Abidor, Tobias Wimmer, and Gabriel Masalu landed many clearing kicks and sliding tackles to prevent Steel City from scoring.
Gabriel Masalu rushes with the ball. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Masalu also helped lead the Rooks in the half with his work in the midfield. Winning 1 on 1s and hustling the ball away from defenders, his work helped lead to many of the Rooks scoring chances. However, solid defensive play from Steel City's goalie prevented the Rooks from capitalizing on offensive opportunities.
Goalie Aidan Crawford launches the ball downfield. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Rooks goalie Aidan Crawford also kept them in the game leading to the second half. Preventing many shots, including a near goal at 19' after miscommunication from the Rooks' defense left him in solo against Steel City's offense, kept the Rooks in the game heading into the second.
As the second half started, much was the same between the two teams as they fought on. Neither team had the majority of the possession of the ball, leading to much back and forth between the two as the two teams chased each other from either side of the field.
Murtadha Kamil fights with Steel City FC's goalie for the ball. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
At 51', the Rooks broke Steel city's defense with impressive cooperative play. After reciving the ball from Gustav Ericsson after Ericsson swung across the goal, Masalu set up an offensive play by a long cross to Chris Reynoso. Reynoso then headed the ball back to the 6 yard mark where Murtadha Kamil slammed the ball into Steel City's net with a powerful volley.
Talking after the play, Reynoso reflected on his team's efforts.
"It's all about teamwork man," Reynoso said. "That [goal] was sick! I'm pretty tired now, though," he joked.
Tobias "Tobi" Wimmer and goalie Aidan Crawford talk after preventing a Steel City FC goal. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
After their goal, the Rocks continued to keep Steel City away from scoring. Crawford continued blocking attempt after attempt during his time on the pitch, preventing long shots from getting in. Near goals from Steel City at 76' and 82' could have spelt disaster, but Crawford denied it with quick-thinking responses.
Looking ahead, the Men's First Team now faces Indy Boyz FC at the Fire Pitch on July 1st at 7 PM in their continued campaign for MWPL dominance.
The Men's First Team also plays for the Illinois State Championship Cup Friday night against AFC Roscoe Village.
The Women's First Team starting 11 line up on Monday. Credit: Gareth Mullins
Women's First Team
The Women's First Team beat FC Barrington 2-0 to advance to the Illinois State Cup Semi-Finals Monday Night at Montrose Turf Field. This was a much needed boost for the team, who lost 5-1 to Indiana Union at Trinity Sports Park in Indianapolis Saturday afternoon.
During their game against Indiana Union, the Rooks lacked the defensive shifting and the stamina to answer to Indiana Union's offense. Amanda Buechel scored at 45' to end the first half of that game 2-1, but the Rooks lacked what was needed to overcome their challenge away from home.
Before the Rooks played on Monday, Women's First Team Head Coach Emma Woodley tried to rally the team forwards after their disappointing loss.
Women's First Team head coach Emma Woodley prepares the Rooks' game day strategy. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
"There's a lot of dead air in here right now," Woodley addressed the team. "Wake up! Just play simple."
After rallying behind their coach, the Rooks made night-and-day change to the way that they play. Right out of the gate, Rooks like Jackie Tamas charged towards FC Barrington's line, keeping the ball in Rooks' hands the majority of the time and letting the Rooks set the tone of the game they were playing.
Nahla Dominguez and Amanda Buechel fight against FC Barrington players for the ball. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Nahla Dominguez also set the tone early with the first goal of the match, landing a beautiful diagonal long shot into the corner of FC Barrington's goal at 7'. After Nahla's goal, the rest of the half was defined by how the Rooks were able to control the ball in the midfield and how they were able to strip the ball away from their competition.
"We are smacking them on their bad touches," Rooks goalie Nicole D'Agostino commented at halftime.
Flower Edington chases after the ball in FC Barrington's territory. Credit: Connor Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
The Rooks' domination continued into the second half. Midfielders like Lauren Hall, Flower Edington, and Amanda Buechel continued to push into FC Barrington's territory. FC Barrington tried to fight back, but defensive blocks from Amanda Clark and awareness from Dags kept FC Barrington scoreless
Towards the end of the game, the relentless pushing by the Rooks kept breaking FC Barrington's defense. Tamas' speed led the ball close to FC Barrington's goal at 76' and the ball landed in Hall's feet after a cross. After some hesitation, Hall launched an accurate shot into her opponent's goal, making the game 2-0.
The Rooks prepare for the game under a Chicago sunset. Credit: Gareth Mullins
Rooks on the bench were very impressed with Tamas' play throughout the match. Forward Paige Matacchiera, for example said to her teammates that "[Jackie] is like a cheetah!"
Steady control of the ball and consistent wins when clashing with opponents sealed the deal for the Rooks, giving them the win and a revitalized spirit when looking ahead to future matches. As Head Coach Wooley said simply after the game, "The better team won today."
The Women's First Team now progresses to the Illinois State Championship Semi-Final, where they will be facing DeKalb County United 8 PM next Thursday in DeKalb, Illinois. The Women's First Team will also face their next UWS opponent, the Cincinnati Sirens FC, this Saturday at 7 PM at Fairfield High School.
The Men's NSL Team's starting 11 line up on Sunday. Credit: Gareth Mullins
Men's NSL Team
The Men's NSL Team lost against AFC Roscoe 2-0 Sunday afternoon at Wilson Turf Field in a tough match against the team at the top of the NSL Chicago Division.
Heading into the match, Men's NSL Team Head Coach Jose Landa put it bluntly to his players:
"It's gonna be a hard game today. We're playing the first place team We just need those 3 points [to be competitive]," said Linda.
Rooks team captain Liam Hettinger offered words of encouragement for his team as well prior to the game.
"You've been with each other long enough," Hettinger said. "Trust each other. Don't be a hero."
As the match started, both teams were locked into a dead heat, turning the ball to and from each side of the field. Rooks like Juan Valencia and Brandon Djehabia kept winning battles for the Rooks in the midfield, but every attempt made by the Rooks towards Roscoe's goal came up short.
Goalie Mason Meents stands guard by the Rooks' goal. Credit: Gareth Mullins
The situation was the same for AFC Roscoe thanks to the goaltending of Rooks player Mason Meents. Meents prevented multiple shots on goal from scoring, especially at 20', where he made a diving save to prevent an accurate diagonal ball from getting past him.
Hettinger also made efforts in the backfield to prevent Roscoe from scoring. For example, at 39' he managed to strip the ball away from Roscoe and launched a clearing kick to get it out of harms way to keep the Rooks in the game.
The stalemate would end at 41', however, when an AFC Roscoe player drew a penalty kick in the Rooks' box. Meents made a valiant effort to prevent the kick from going in, but the ball only just made it past him.
Edgewater Castle FC and AFC Roscoe battle in the midfield. Credit: Gareth Mullins
As the second half started 1-0, the Rooks tried to rally and score, but their efforts ran short due to a number of the players having yellow cards on them at that point of the game. This would be detrimental to the Rooks' efforts, as Roscoe at 75' landed a diagonal kick into the Rooks' net; the Rook defending, Hettinger, already had a yellow on him, so he couldn't defend as much as he wanted to to prevent the game-winning score.
Despite the loss, the Rooks now know what the focus on for future games:
"Our weakness is counters, and that's how most of their goals were scored," said head coach Landa after the game. "We just gotta want it more."
The Men's NSL Team now looks onwards to their next game against Chicago City SC on Sunday at Noon at Wilson Turf Field.