NORTHFIELD — Just minutes before he scored the game-winning goal to beat the New Trier boys soccer team 2-1, Evanston’s Oli Jacques said he felt his heart drop.
Jacques and the Wildkits’ other forwards looked back toward their own goal as senior Duncan Gill, New Trier’s leading scorer, squeezed past all-state center back Bret Lowry with about nine minutes remaining Tuesday.
Gill found himself with a couple yards of space inside Evanston’s penalty box after he got by Lowry. He quickly lined up and fired a left-footed shot that seemed destined to put New Trier ahead, but Lowry recovered just in time. The senior blocked Gill’s shot out of bounds to keep the Central Suburban South game tied 1-1.
A year ago, Lowry was the hero against New Trier. He scored both goals in Evanston’s 2-0 victory over the Trevians. It was a must-win game for the Wildkits on their path to a conference championship.
Lowry didn’t score for Evanston (10-2-2, 3-1-1) on Tuesday, yet he once again played a critical role in its win over New Trier (12-3-2, 3-1) — especially late in the match.
“There was a momentum shift, definitely, when Breton blocked that one shot,” said Jacques, a senior. “When he blocked that, I felt like, ‘Yeah, we’re still in this.’ ”
Jacques scored the game-winner about six minutes later. Senior midfielder Chris Vergara’s pass came to Jacques at the edge of the 18-yard box, and he smashed a right-footed half volley into the back of the net with 3:03 remaining.
Evanston’s players and fans both celebrated vigorously when Jacques put the Wildkits ahead. Evanston’s players sprinted over to their student section, and Jacques emphatically saluted the animated fans.
“To beat them two years in a row is an unreal feeling,” Lowry said. “It was just a great game, and I’d love to see them again in playoffs.”
The Trevians’ high-powered attack pressed and pressed in the final 10 minutes. New Trier’s talented forwards were running at — and trying to get behind — Evanston’s back line, which features Lowry and seniors Mark Roth, Ben Osterlund and Ben Rogan.
New Trier’s first sizable threat in the final 10 minutes came when Trevians senior Steven Childs dribbled toward the Wildkits’ defenders. One of the Trevians’ forwards peeled off and made a run behind Lowry, and Childs — a midfielder whose touch was excellent against Evanston — tried to pass it to him.
Lowry stood his ground, however, and intercepted the pass.
Then, with about 5:30 remaining in the match, New Trier junior forward Michael Gallo dribbled by an Evanston defender down the right flank. He moved into a dangerous area, but Lowry closed quickly from his spot at center back and blocked Gallo’s pass attempt out of bounds.
“That’s what makes him so good,” Evanston coach Franz Calixte said of Lowry’s defensive instincts. “He gets the angles, he knows when to cheat, he knows when to go for balls. And then, if he does make a mistake, he’s athletic enough to make up for it. There’s not too many like Bret Lowry.”
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• New Trier took a 1-0 lead with 28:57 remaining in the first half when Gill’s cross was finished by senior forward Tommy Belliel. Evanston junior forward Erick Balthazar answered quickly, however, when he lofted a perfectly-struck shot over New Trier senior goalkeeper Jonathan Jaggard to tie the game 1-1.
• Evanston, Waukegan and New Trier all are still in the running for the CSL South title. The Wildkits finished 3-1-1 in the conference. They’re currently in first place with 10 points, while New Trier (3-1) has nine points. Waukegan (2-1) beat Glenbrook South 2-0 on Tuesday. The Bulldogs — who beat Evanston 2-0, but lost 5-1 to Maine South — host New Trier at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Niles West is scheduled to play the Bulldogs on Thursday.