When senior Hannah Caudill returned to the pitch in the second half of New Trier soccer’s 1-0 win over Highland Park on Thursday, Lucy Gelwix expressed the shared emotion many of the Trevians had in that moment.
Gelwix and Caudill leaped into each other’s arms and the New Trier faithful let out a cheer. The moment was a long time coming for Caudill, who sustained an ACL tear in consecutive seasons and has not played in a Trevians game since 2021.
Last season, Caudill, a respected leader for the Trevians, was injured in what would have been her first game back.
“When the second (injury) happened, I was in tears,” New Trier coach Jim Burnside said. “Today I was in tears just watching her. She’s at everything, she works hard, she’s gotten herself back. It’s the highlight to my season.”
The defender entered the game twice in the second half, receiving a raucous ovation both times.
“The story of this game is that child who has worked so hard to get back and is beloved by her teammates, is a captain, is a leader, and if anything is the story if the game, it’s that, for us,” Burnside said.
Caudill and New Trier’s sentimental victory was paired with a physical one thanks to a late-first-half highlight.
Trevians senior Nora Westol created chances with aggressive play, possessing the ball with deft touch and speed, leading to New Trier’s first goal of the game in the 32nd minute.
“She’s an energizer-bunny,” Burnside said. “They might not even know what that is anymore. She is one of the people who can really get up and down the field and create chances.”
The forward standout assisted sophomore Sadie-Grace Richardson, who had been streaking downfield to Westol’s left toward the center of the pitch, and Richardson confidently blasted the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 New Trier lead.
“Nora’s one of the fastest people on the team, she always knows how to carry the ball,” Richardson said. “I think one of our strong suits is crossing and finishing. It’s what we work on a lot. I think it was just estimating the time, the finish, understanding where the defenders were.”
The Trevians put the first contested shot on goal in the 13th minute, when Westol reversed possession, galloped down the right side and dropped a pass off to Charlotte Dellin.
Dellin blasted a shot that was saved by Giants keeper Anna Chabot.
“She disrupts, she attacks, she ends up where she needs to be at the right time,” Burnside said of Westol.
The Trevians later had some crosses into the box in the second half, but did not come away with much in the way of strong scoring chances.
When Highland Park operated with a little more space at times in the second half, Trevians sophomore defender Honor Dold helped to snuff out the Giants’ chances
“I think we have a strong defensive line and we work well together,” Richardson said. “Occasionally we get a little frantic, but we stay composed.”
The Giants had their best chance on a free kick in the 65th minute, as the long ball found the foot of Scarlett Siegel, whose flick toward the goal was cleared by New Trier keeper Caroline Hague.
New Trier recently returned from a spring break trip to the St. Louis area, defeating Columbia and Belleville West last week. The Trevs also defeated league foe Glenbrook North 3-1 on Tuesday.
“I think we’re starting to blend more as a team,” Richardson said. “We’re great off the field. I think on the field we’re working together a lot better and finally figuring out how each other plays.”
The Giants are off to an 0-5-1 start to the season, playing a tough schedule that has included Evanston, Warren and now New Trier.
Greta Ohlwein, a senior Southern Indiana University women’s soccer commit, has scored Highland Park’s lone goal, coming in a 1-1 tie with Buffalo Grove on March 17.
“Greta’s an amazing athlete,” Highland Park coach Kate Straka said. “Her speed, her intensity, it can’t be matched. This year she’s done a really good job of bringing her teammates along with her in terms of building her teammates up pushing them to be more intense, pushing them to make those runs and I think it just shows really great growth.”
Straka also noted that Klara Fussie on the Giants backline and Noa Cooper in the midfield are sophomores who are holding things down for the Giants.
She called Fussie, “a force.”
“I thought (Cooper) had one of her best games today,” Straka said. “New Trier, they have a lot of different players who can play really versatile positions, and I think Noah did a really good job of keeping our midfield calm, keeping our midfield intense, keeping our midfield pressure up.”