LA GRANGE PARK — Lost in the fact that Nazareth girls soccer has possibly its best player ever, Gianna Milaro, is that the Roadrunners have a lot of young players and are in somewhat of a rebuilding phase.
Milaro, a Purdue recruit, helped the Roadrunners win the East Suburban Catholic Conference title and complete an undefeated regular season a year ago.
Monday’s 1-0 loss to St. Viator showed that the Roadrunners are still a quality team with the potential for postseason success, but they likely won't be repeating as conference champs and have a way to go to get to last year’s level.
Nazareth (6-4) fell to 2-2 in the ESCC and sits in fifth place after the loss.
The Lions took the lead in the 14th minute when a miscommunication at the back and a failed clearance resulted in an open net for Viator to score on.
Nazareth recovered from a slow start to control most of the play in the second half, but could not find the equalizer.
“Of course you want the win because you want to stay in the conference mix, but we played good enough to win,” said Naz coach John Nikchevich. “That’s soccer. Soccer is an evil game. Sometimes we controlled the second half. We had the run of the field, but you gotta be able to put it in the net.”
Milaro had her chances in the second half, including one that Viator goalkeeper Samantha Stanley was barely able to stretch to grab and then keep from going over the line as her momentum pushed back into the goal. The Roadrunner star hit a couple open shots in the box over the crossbar in the final 10 minutes and could only pound the turf in frustration.
Despite the missed opportunities a pair of freshman, Lily Franko and Kelly Renehan, showed well up top with Milaro.
“When you have two freshman up top with a senior it’s a learning experience,” Nikchevich said. “This year is just about building and keep getting better and better and better. We’ll take those losses as long as we left it all on the field and as long as we played good soccer. Sometimes you don’t win on the scoreboard, but you do win in other areas.”