Santos Off to a Perfect Start in MRL Premier Division!
Team Chicago Academy-Santos is off to a perfect start in the MRL U18 Premier Division after three wins in Rockford this past weekend.
The opening game was against Iowa City Alliance – the reigning Region II Champions – and Santos was very dominant in its 2-0 win. Both goals were scored at the end of the first half. The eventual game-winner was scored by Madi Harris after a Heather Handwork cross and a pass in the box from Lilly Butler. The insurance goal came off a great run and cross from Katie Ciesiulka, which Sara Stevens headed home at the far post.
In Saturday’s second game against Sporting Blue Valley from Kansas City, Santos again was very dominant in the first half. Santos went up 2-0 on goals by Rachael Brots on a PK, which Lilly Butler drew after a great, mazy run, and just before the break Kelsey Pruett met a Talise Romain cross at the far post and steered it home.
However, failure to convert on two 100% chances in the opening six minutes of the second half to put the game out of reach proved costly as SBV struck back with two quick goals midway through the half. A very tight game finally was unlocked with 10 minutes left when Gianna Marconi calmly slotted the ball home at the foot of the far post after a nice Talise Romain pass.
Sunday morning’s game was against Michigan Gators who tied for 1st place in last year’s MRL Premier Division, and fortunately Santos had its best performance of the weekend in securing a 3-1 win. After dominating possession and chances in the first half, but without being able to find the net, Santos finally broke through with three perfect training-ground goals in the second half.
The first came as Heather Handwork served in a perfect low, driven cross at the near post that Kristen Brots ran onto and smashed home. A few minutes later Abbey Mazur’s tenacity won her the ball in midfield, and she sent a nice pass to Hannah Rodgers who in one touch slipped a perfect, weighted through-ball into the path of Sara Stevens’ perfectly timed run. Sara took a big, decisive touch around the on-rushing keeper and calmly slotted the ball into the empty net.
The Gators halved the lead with 20 minutes left, but only 4 minutes later Hannah Rodgers found Heather Handwork on the right flank, and she beat her defender, and instead of shooting from a tight angle she just slotted the ball across the 6-yard box for Sara Stevens to score in the empty net. A perfect, and very unselfish, goal to put the game out of reach.
Santos will now travel to St. Louis this Saturday for two more MRL Premier Division games, before it has four final one-off games in October and early November to finish out the MRL season.