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Rams start strong, play in tourney title game

BRIDGEVIEW – Given the size of Toyota Park’s field, Glenbard East girls soccer coach Kent Overbey figured chances would be few and far between for the Windy City Classic final.

The Rams held off Lincoln-Way North through the run of play, but Brenna Stremlau scored from more than 30 yards out on a lofted free kick for the only goal of the game. North won 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park.

“Frankly, I think our biggest issue is we’re not used to playing on a field this size,” Overbey said. “We got the ball outside, we saw a lot of success, but you just get pulled out of [your formation] shape. We had a hard time adjusting to take our shape again. I thought we did a great job defending them. We gave up one free kick, and she made a great shot far post.”

Alex Ruffer, Brittany Paganucci and Jordyn Fulton tried to engineer changes for the Rams, but they could not crack the scoresheet in the 60-minute match.

Regardless of the loss, the Rams still are off to a strong 4-1-1 start to the season and earned the trip to play in a professional stadium with their solid tourney run.

“It’s been a good tournament for us,” said Ruffer, a Western Michigan recruit. “The first couple games of the season it’s always going to be a little rough, but I thought we played really well.”

After the tournament final, the Rams took this week off and return to action Saturday against Fenton. The following Tuesday is the DuPage Valley Conference opener at West Aurora.

East won its first four matches of the season, all coming in the 32-team Windy City Classic, without conceding a goal.

After advancing to the final, the Rams tied Downers Grove North 2-2 on March 27 with both goals coming from Ruffer.

“For a preseason tournament, we’re in great shape right now,” Overbey said. “We got four shutouts, so the defense was playing great. They played great [in the final], nothing through the run of play. It’s been a great experience. We were in the locker room. We got to walk out of the tunnel. It’s been great, our girls have loved it.”

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