T.F. co-op's Nicole Vega (right) charges downfield as Reavis' Ewelina Kmin chases. | John Smierciak~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:39AM
Entering her first season with the T.F. co-op soccer team after transferring from Marian Catholic, Debo Akinsanya wasn’t quite sure how she’d fit in.
What she knew she could bring to the squad, though, was hustle and heart.
Those attributes paid off Thursday as Akinsanya tracked down a loose ball to score off a rebound for the match’s only goal as the United earned a key 1-0 win over Reavis in a South Suburban crossover at T.F. North.
“I’ve always been taught to go hard after every ball,” Akinsanya said. “I knew that had to be in the back of the net. I was nervous at first to meet all the girls, but I’ve got a feel for how the team plays and we’ve all just connected really well.”
Akinsanya’s goal was set up by a free kick taken by Monica Munoz just outside the box. Munoz’s shot was knocked down by Reavis goalie Makayla Spielman (9 saves), but Akinsanya pounced on the rebound and scored to give the United (11-2, 5-1) the lead 21 minutes in.
“One thing I love about Debo is she’s a hustler,” T.F. co-op coach Alejandro Lagunas said.
Both teams fought through sloppy field conditions on a rainy day to create plenty of chances, but both goalies loomed large.
Hillary Chadare, making her third start in goal for the United, made five saves to shut out Reavis (7-4, 5-1).
“I’m starting to get more comfortable in goal,” Chadare said. “It feels good to get a shutout, but I feel like I could play even better.”
The Rams earned seven first-half corner kicks, but could not find the equalizer.
Chadare made a strong save on Priscilla Solorzano’s shot just a minute after Akinsanya’s goal.
Reavis’ best scoring chance came with 27 minutes left in the match when Perla Ruiz chipped a ball into the box. Karina Lopez beat Chadare to the loose ball, but her shot rolled just wide.
The Rams managed to keep T.F. co-op freshman Nicole Vega, who has 36 goals, off the scoreboard.