East wins wild 11-goal North Cup final
With about 2:30 left, North and East went all out attack.
The teams traded three goals in the final few minutes in what turned out to be a thriller in the North Cup final Saturday. East came out with a 6-5 win and positioned itself nicely in what could turn out to be a City League decider Thursday against Carroll.
Suzannah Young scored the game-winner with 30 seconds left off a corner kick. The ball carried to the far post, and Young said she was just looking to get something on the end of it.
"I saw it and thought to myself, 'I got this,' " she said. "We had been working on that a lot in practice. That was just my chance."
Her goal won't count toward the Aces shot at a league title, at least not in the City League stats, but it certainly will propel them into this week, coach Dylan Gruntzel said. It starts Tuesday with Heights.
East beat the Falcons 1-0 to get to the North Cup final. The Aces worked in their flow of the game but struggled finishing chances. That will be the emphasis coming in, Gruntzel said.
"If we make any mistakes, that might cost us against them," he said. "They are very well-organized and disciplined."
Carroll is 5-1-0 in the City League, and East sits 5-0-1 in league play this season and is coming off a Class 6A state qualification in 2017. The Aces started the season about as shaky as possible but have gone undefeated since their Titan Cup game against Northwest. A win Thursday would clinch the league title.
Since that tournament, East has outscored opponents 55-9 with five goals coming Saturday. Gruntzel has gotten his team to buy in defensively despite running only three defenders in his system.
North got East out of its element Saturday as Nayeli Gallo, the City League's leading scorer, finished with three goals and an assist. But Gruntzel said that might have been a good thing for the Aces.
"We were able to answer every goal," he said. "Every time they tied the game, we were able to score another. I was disappointed in our defensive effort, but at the same time, I loved how we were able to come back."
Up top, Anahy Guevara leads the way. An All-Metro selection last season, Guevara has 17 goals this season, which is among the top five in the City League.
Guevara is their creator and their engine, but she is not alone. East has also gotten solid production from Emilee Endsley and Brynn Walker, a converted striker now playing in defense. They have combined for 13 goals and eight assists this season.
Still, there is no denying Gruntzel's plan. He wants his players to possess, find feet and deploy a deliberate approach to goal.
He wants the opponent to chase, and when they tire, strike.
"I try to teach players to perform under pressure," he said. " 'Can you get it done in two different scenarios? Can you play directly and indirectly?' Today showed they can, and that will be important going forward."