Girls Soccer: Iatarola corners market on Loyola set kicks
Glenview Friday, 5/18/12 Loyola Academy's Tori Iatarola (8) during the second half of Friday's game against Whitney Young. Loyola Academy won the Regional game, 2-0. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:49AM
Loyola Academy girls soccer coach Craig Snower distinctly remembers sophomore Tori Iatarola, who’s now playing a vital role for the Ramblers, as a 6-year-old running around after the conclusion of her older sister’s soccer games at Loyola.
Iatarola is from a Loyola family. Her older brother originally chose Loyola over St. Viator. Her older sister, who went on to captain Princeton’s girls soccer team, was Snower’s original star player.
Families with several siblings who attend Loyola are commonplace, but the distance Iatarola drives each day to attend Loyola and play on the Sun-Times’ No. 1-ranked girls soccer team is rare.
“I live in West Dundee, which is an hour and 15 minutes away,” said Iatarola, who turned 16 in March. “Before I had to car pool, but now I just drive myself. I leave at 6:10 (a.m.) from my house, and I get around here at 7:20… . It’s not too bad. I’m pretty much used to it.”
More than just the distance she commutes each day to attend Loyola, Iatarola has separated herself this spring with her play on the soccer field. The Loyola sophomore had racked up 26 assists after the Ramblers (23-0-1) beat Whitney Young to win the Loyola Academy Regional on Friday.
Iatarola set the program’s assist record largely because she’s able to serve up such precise passes on set pieces. That, combined with her power and execution in the air, has allowed the Ramblers’ aerial attack to become one of the team’s primary strengths, along with their suffocating defense.
“Last year we had Carrie Schoeneberger, who (took corner kicks) the last three years about as well as any girl I’ve ever seen,” Snower said. “We thought that would be a tall order to replace, and we were auditioning two or three girls during the preseason and Tori’s came out perfect; unbelievably, (Iatarola’s corner kicks have) probably (been) an improvement from Carrie’s, which is hard to imagine.”
In the Loyola Regional, the Ramblers scored five goals off corner kicks — three in their 8-0 win over Schurz , two in a 2-0 victory over Public League champion Whitney Young — to give their stingy defense more than enough of a cushion.
The corners are initiated by Iatarola, but they’re often finished by center backs Corey Burns and Annie Manganaro. Both defenders have amassed double-digit goals this season, more than individually doubling the four goals Loyola’s defense has allowed this year.
“I look for Annie’s head,” Iatarola said. “She definitely has a rocket and she can always get it in. I definitely look for certain spots.”
Because Iatarola is one of Loyola’s shortest players, her ability to consistently serve up dangerous free kicks has worked out well. The Ramblers can run their lone corner kick play — it burned Whitney Young for two goals, even though the Dolphins knew it was coming — with Iatarola looking for the team’s strongest players in the air .
“Her advantage is Tori’s 5-foot-3 so she’s not scoring a lot of headers in the box off of headers,” Snower said. “It’s a perfect scenario for her.”