(This story ran in the 5/12 North Shore editions of Pioneer Press. Loyola plays for the regional final at home Friday)
The two Loyola girls live so close to one another in Glenview they probably could trade kicks without leaving home.
They’ve shared a lifetime of memories together, on and off the field. As two of the 10 seniors on the Ramblers, Laura Gardner and Carrie Schoeneberger are hoping to write a happy ending to their careers over the next several weeks.
“We’ve always been playing together and have a great connection with one another,” Schoeneberger said. “It’s always good to play with someone you know.”
After beating Mather 11-0, Loyola, the Evanston Sectional’s No. 1 seed, enters Friday’s game at home 21-0-3. The Ramblers are looking for their sixth regional title title under coach Craig Snower.
Gardner and Schoeneberger are as synonymous with Loyola’s recent success as goalie Carly Stevens. Since joining varsity as full-time players in 2009, the Ramblers are 62-8-1.
As sophomores, Gardner and Schoeneberger helped the Ramblers set a program record for wins with 22, and they are a regional title away from equaling that mark. They also won the Pepsi Showdown, and they helped Loyola add another title last month.
“I really didn’t know what to expect this year,” said Gardner. “We had to work hard to accomplish what we wanted.”
Even during the best run in program history, postseason success has escaped the Ramblers as they’ve never won a sectional title.
But that all could change this month.
“Sure we had a sense about this team, and we knew we had a good group of girls,” said the midfielder Schoeneberger. “We also have a lot of talent. The most important, though, is the work we have put in. I’ve never before seen a group of girls want to make the most of it like these girls.”
Once they leave high school, Gardner and Schoeneberger will hang up their cleats and become regular college students. Gardner is going to Notre Dame, while Schoeneberger is headed to Michigan. For the first time, the two friends will be rivals, at least as fans.
“That will be a little different, but that also could bring us together,” Gardner said. “It’s been amazing. Except for one year, we’ve always played together. My career is with Carrie.”