Girls Soccer: Schwartz does a bit of everything for Highland Park
Highland Park's Olivia Pinsof (No. 2)takes possession in front of Libertyville's Sam Marsh during the second half of Saturday's game. The game ended in a 0-0 tie. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 20, 2012 8:29AM
It seems that no matter where Highland Park girls soccer coach Kate Straka puts Samantha Schwartz in the lineup, good things happen.
Up until Saturday’s game at Libertyville, which ended in a 0-0 tie, Schwartz was a forward generating the offensive attack. At 5-foot-3, Schwartz is a non-stop dynamo on the field, and she leads the Giants in scoring (7 goals).
But Straka wanted her sophomore to be even more involved in the play, so Schwartz was moved to midfield for the game against Libertyville.
“She’s terrific for the midfield,” Straka said. “Samantha always wants to win the ball. She’s aggressive and smart and obviously skilled.”
Such qualities were evident vs. Libertyville, as Schwartz created chances for her teammates, as well as for herself, while also helping to thwart the Wildcats’ attack. The switch enabled Schwartz to be involved in the play throughout the game.
“I was trying to use my speed and skill to control the ball in the center of the field and distribute it to my teammates,” Schwartz said.
Although passing and disrupting the opponents’ attack are important for Schwartz, her scoring ability still will be near the top of the list for Straka. Schwartz had a handful of strong attempts on the net, including a blast in the 22nd minute that just went over the top.
The ferocity of the shot from the diminutive Schwartz caught the Libertyville defenders a bit off guard.
“I’ve had years of experience knowing how to get my shot off, and what I have to put into it (for power),” Schwartz said.
“When Samantha gets behind a soccer ball, she is so strong with her shot,” Straka said.
The advantage of her position switch became apparent late in the first half, when Schwartz stole a pass at midfield and quickly turned it into a dangerous chance on offense.
The Giants’ second leading scorer, forward Lauren Daly, benefited from several strong plays in the midfield by Schwartz.
“Samantha plays very well in the center,” Daly said. “She’s a key element for us, being able to switch the ball and stand her ground.”
Recap: Highland Park battled area power Libertyville to a 0-0 standoff in Libertyville on Saturday. For the most part, though, HP controlled the play, and had much better chances.
“As a team, we possessed the ball very well and played at a tempo that I was very comfortable with,” Straka said.
When Libertyville did threaten, keepers Amanda Skurie — in the first half — and Grace Quirk (second half) stopped everything, including a strong save by Tivnan with three minutes remaining in the contest.
Highland Park lost to Maine South 4-1 on April 9.
“With the injury to Morgan Bartelstein (concussion symptoms), we had to adjust our defense, creating a ripple effect throughout the field,” Straka said. “We were unable to keep up with Maine South’s high-powered offense.”
Daly scored the Giants’ lone goal in the 74th minute.
Highland Park turned things around in its next match, posting a 3-0 shutout over Waukegan on April 11. Daly assisted on a Schwartz goal, while Jorie Fox found the net off a pass from Stephanie Bailen, her fifth assist of the season. Shelly Feldman tallied the final goal off a pass from Marley Rafson.
On the schedule: Highland Park (6-3) will participate in the Niles West Tournament, which begins today.