The Rooks had a splendid Independence Day Weekend with a string of victories!
Men's First Team vs RWB Adria Chicago (Illinois State Cup): 3-2 W
51’, 60’ G. Ericsson
74' W. Acheampong
Men’s First Team vs. Indy Boyz FC: W via forfeit
Women's First Team vs. Dekalb County United (Illinois State Cup): 2-1 L
89’ J. Tamas [PK]
Women’s First Team vs. Chicago Rush Soccer Club: 2-0 W
67’ C. Murillo Sanchez
83’ J. Rodriguez
The Men's First Team's starting 11 huddle before the start of their match. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Men's First Team
The Men’s First Team has advanced to the Illinois State Cup final after defeating RWB Adria Chicago 3-2 Friday night at Foster Turf Field.
The pressure was on for the Rooks even before the game started. Edgewater Castle FC’s previous four matches versus Adria was a combined loss of 11-2 dating back to the 2021 season. Many players got mentally ready for the game, knowing it was going to be difficult for the underdog Rooks to advance to the final.
“[Adria] is a really good team,” said Rooks forward William Acheampong. “[This] should be a very close match.”
William Acheampong keeps the ball away from an Adria player. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
The game started close when kickoff commenced. For much of the first half, the game was a back-and-forth battle between Adria and Edgewater Castle FC. Efforts by Rooks midfielders Al Stankovic, Bardia Kimiavi, and Evangelo Spartiatis defused Adria’s initial presses. Rook Blake Mooney was critical in keeping the Rooks in the game, blocking Adria’s shot attempts and launching solid crosses to his teammates when on the attack.
Gabriel Masalu lands a header. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Adria eventually scored the first goal of the match off of a Rooks error. While defending an Adria corner at 29’, Rook Gabriel Masalu accidentally conceded a penalty kick via a handball. The Adria player took the kick and scored at 30’, sending the ball past Rooks keeper Adian Crawford’s reach.
Rooks players and staff meet to discuss the game at halftime. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
When the Rooks entered halftime, Men’s First Team head coach Andrey Berezovchuk, assistant coach Carlos Landa, and Rooks player and assistant coach David Abidor each took time to provide feedback and encouragement to their players, especially when it came to taking chances and scoring while having possession.
“”I’ve said this before a lot of times. Why are you afraid to play,” questioned Berezovchuk. “If you are afraid to lose the ball, why are you playing? You have to play fast. You have the chances [to do so]. You want to play in the final, right?”
Taking heed of Berezovchuk’s words, the Rooks reemerged in the second half with a new fire to them. Shortly into the game, the Rooks tied their opponents with a solid team play.
Gustav Ericsson rushes to secure the ball. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
At 51’, Kimiavi rushed upfield and into Adria’s box. Once there, he landed a cross to Acheampong, who then passed the ball to Gustav Ericsson. Ericsson then landed a bouncing kick into Adria’s goal; the ball leading to Ericsson's goal and the 1-1 tie.
Gustav Ericsson celebrates after scoring a goal. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Five minutes later, Ericsson would score again. A ball played diagonally from the right side of the defense found Bardia Kimiavi wide open at the center of the attack. Instead of collecting the ball and turning towards goal, Bardia let the ball run through his legs onto an on-rushing Ericsson who would collect and calmly roll the ball past the keeper for the 2-1 lead.
William Acheampong runs past an Adria player to secure the ball. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
The Rooks continued to press on into another successful attack. Acheampong, playing solidly in the midfield throughout the second half, managed to secure the ball from Adria at 74’. With the ball in his possession, he rushed up past Adria’s defenders, getting himself one-on-one with Adria’s keeper. In the heat of the moment, Acheampong kicked the ball past Adria’s keeper’s efforts, getting the Rooks a 3-1 lead.
Despite the Rooks’ domination of the ball, Adria tried to rally by scoring at 76’. As the Rooks were trying to shield the ball out for a throw in within their own defensive third, Adria stole the ball and passed across the box. Crawford tried to block the ball, but was not able to prevent the 3-2 score.
With 14 minutes to go, the Rooks and Adria engaged in a tight battle to determine the game. If the score finished even after 90 minutes, the match would immediately go to a shootout.
Blake Mooney prepares to defend the Rooks' net. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
At 80’, Adria had a chance to score, but Crawford was up to the task, preventing the goal with a solid diving save. Mooney prevented one final Adria score attempt at 90’ after reading Adria’s offensive play and reacting with solid coverage of the ball.
Victorious, the Men’s First Team and staff were ecstatic. Edgewater Castle FC co-founder and general manager Andrew Swanson, gleaming after the win, walked over to the players’ huddle and told everyone a story.
Rooks players, supporters, and staff celebrate the win. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
“Our first game as a club was against Adria. We lost 12-0, Swanson said. “It took us 5, 6 years to say that we are better and we can now! This is the proudest I have ever been [of this team].”
“That’s a W,” said Rooks player Ben Lindau. “That’s a fat W.”
Shortly after the celebrations, it was also announced that the Men’s First Team’s MWPL opponents for the week, Indy Boyz FC, could not make it for their match on Saturday night. As such, the Rooks decided to accept their forfeit and gain 3 more points in their MWPL division.
You can catch the Men’s First Team at the Illinois State Cup Final versus Czarni Jasio Chicago at 8 PM at Loyola Academy's Munz field in Glenview, Illinois.
The Women's First Team's starting 11 pose before their game against Chicago Rush Soccer Club. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Women’s First Team
The Women’s First Team played two hard fought games this week. The first, the Illinois State Cup Semi-Final, was a close game against DeKalb County United that ended up being a 2-1 loss at Northern Illinois University’s Trinity Sports Field on Thursday night. The second, a UWS game against Chicago Rush Soccer Club at the Fire Pitch on Saturday evening, was a 2-0 win after a lightning warning delayed the game in the middle of the second half.
The Women's First Team sound off before the Illinois State Cup Semi-Final. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Women’s First Team Versus DeKalb County United
In DeKalb, United brought the pressure against the Rooks. Using their speed, United ended up getting multiple early goal attempts, pressing the Rooks in battles and intercepting the ball whenever the Rooks were trying to make offensive shifts. Rooks keeper Nicole D’Agostino was up to the challenge to keep the Rooks in the game, blocking multiple shots in the early stages of the match.
Eventually, United’s offensive play led to an early goal. At 15’, a United player beat Rooks defenders and got herself into scoring position. From there, she scored a long, diagonal shot that managed to get past Dags.
Nicole D'Agostino stands ready to defend. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Shortly after, the same United player beat Rooks defender Megan O’Keefe close to the net and scored another strong kick, making their lead 2-0.
Women’s assistant coach Emily Witt discussed what was going wrong on the sidelines during the half.
“We’re letting them dribble into the goal before stepping. We need someone to be that somebody [to stop them],” Witt said.
The Rooks and United clash for the ball. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
With the lack of pressing and battles being won, the Rooks allowed United one more chance to score close to the half that Dags was able to stop with prowess, diving to her right to prevent a long, unprotected diagonal kick from getting into her net.
As the second half started, the Rooks locked in with better possession and saw several close attempts that the United keeper only barely deflected.
Nahla Dominguez fights for the ball. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
At 68’, Rooks midfielder Nahla Dominguez almost had a goal after being given the ball by midfielder Flower Edington. Her kick was solid, but the keeper managed to stop the ball from getting past her. At 69’, Edington managed to secure a penalty kick after a United handball in the box, but United’s keeper again prevented a score by blocking it in the bottom corner of the goal.
Dags continued to keep the Rooks in the game during the second with more impressive saves. At 77’, she made another diving save after another offensive push by United led to another close goal. Dags made another save shortly after, reaching high to prevent a high shot at 80’.
Flower Edington prepares to rush United's defense. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
As the game neared its conclusion, the Rooks had other chances to score. Rooks midfielder Darian Lucas almost landed a longshot at 89’ that was saved spectacularly by United’s keeper, and Edington almost landed a corner kick at 89’ as well that was just outside of play.
Jackie Tamas runs past a United player with the ball. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
At 90’, Edington got pulled down in the box after she tried to score. Rooks player Jackie Tamas took the penalty kick, giving the Rooks a goal at the end of the game for the 2-1 result.
At the end of the game, Women’s First Team head coach Emma Woodley told her players that she wanted them to learn to communicate and work together better in the future and to play with the same intensity that they were playing at the end of the game.
“There’s a lot of things we can take away from this game, but there’s one thing I want. On Saturday, I want 90 minutes of game, not just 15,” Woodley told players.
The Rooks line up to met Rush's players. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Women’s First Team Vs. Chicago Rush Soccer Club
When the Rooks played against Chicago Rush Soccer Club on Saturday they did just that.
There was an immediately noticeable change in communication style amongst the team; against United, the Rooks weren’t really talking to each other, leading to situations where players were not there to support one another when they needed each other most in order to score. Against Rush, the Rooks were actively communicating strategy on the field.
Rooks and Rush players clash. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Rush offered good play in the first half, but the Rooks rose up to challenge them effectively. Both sides had equal possession throughout the game, with each team going back and forth into their respective halves without being able to score, with the Rooks ultimately having more chances at goal than the visitors and were eager to score going into the second half.
D'Agostino looks on to action in the midfield. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
D’Agostino started off with solid play, keeping up her momentum from the previous game. At 57’, Dags closed down the angle on an Rush attacker who was on the break, using her body to deflect the ball out for a Rush corner. Following that, the Rooks and Rush still were at each other’s throats, with neither able to open the scoring.
The heat of the battle was soon put on pause afterwards as lightning was spotted off of the horizon. The Fire Pitch’s lightning alarm went off, leading to the game to be suspended at 67’ and for the Rooks and Rush to take shelter inside of the Fire Pitch’s facility.
Women's First Team head coach Emma Woodley (left) and assistant coach Emily Witt (right) look on at the game with their players. Credit: Oscar Aguilar (https://www.instagram.com/boxcar_creative/)
After almost an hour of waiting, the Rooks and Rush retook the field to continue their game as rain continued to hammer down. Woodley hyped up the team as the Rooks prepared to get back into action.
“[Rush players] are not in this,” said Woodley. This is our game to lose. It’s on y’all now. Push through!”
Christina Murillo Sanchez prepares to launch the ball. Credit: Conner Macintosh (https://www.instagram.com/connor.aden/)
Starting back off at 67’, the Rooks scored in impressive fashion. After a close-quarters scramble inside Rush’s 18, the ball was cleared out to Rooks midfielder Christina Murillo Sanchez who launched a long shot from over 25 yards that soared past Rush’s keeper.
Jennifer Rodriguez goes for the ball close to Rush's net. Credit: Miles Whitworth (whirltwirlmedia.com)
Riding off of the hype from that shot, the Rooks continued to push through to score another. At 83’, midfielder Jennifer Rodriguez sent the ball flying with another longshot that made the goal. Hitting it with a clean release, Jenny sent it sailing to secure the 2-0 win to propel them to their final home match of the UWS season.
You can catch the final Women’s First Team UWS home game against RBFC Elite this Saturday at 4:30 PM at the Fire Pitch.