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Girls’ Soccer faces adversity, high expectations to start season

Parker Sonnenberg, Editor in Chief

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The Girls’ Soccer team entered the season with nearly impossibly high expectations. Coming into the year, the group ranked 21st in the nation according to Top Drawer Soccer, with their sights set on a State title run in June. The team, however, faced unexpected adversity in the opening stages of the season, suffering two tough losses at the start of the year.
The team sits at a 4-2-1 record, including a win in the first round of the annual Pepsi Tournament. The girls demonstrated why they were given such enormous preseason hype, highlighted by a 3-0 win over rival Metea Valley on March 17.
“It felt pretty good to beat them, it was kind of a test for us,” Senior Captain Sam Elster said.
Elster is currently in her fourth year at the Varsity level and has been a part of many different groups of girls throughout her high school career. In her eyes, this year’s team shows more promise than any other year, despite the success of those teams.
“We’re just as good, if not better, than we were last year,” Elster said. “I definitely think this year we have strength all around the field and this is one of the best teams that has been at Plainfield North.”
Although they have been held in such high regard, they have struggled in a few games this year, most notably in their two losses. The first of these against St. Charles North, the girls were handcuffed without key contributors Senior Captain Reyse Stirrett and Sophomore Abby Gustafson. However, the second loss to Batavia delivered a huge blow to the team, with an ACL tear to Tate Barney putting her out for the season after an attempted tackle.
“After finding out how bad I was hurt, I was upset but I have a very positive outlook on the situation,” Barney, who committed to play for the University of Kentucky this coming fall, said. “The team will adjust to me not being out there with them on the field anymore, but they know I will be supporting them.”
Her injury came nearly 20 minutes into the second half of the game with the score still tied up at zero. Within ten minutes of Barney’s absence, Batavia scored three quick goals to seal a 3-0 victory over the Tigers.
The day after the loss, the girls took the chance with a day off practice to air out their frustrations. Elster approached the other captains, Stirrett and Senior Emily De Vaux, about the idea of a team meeting and both agreed it would be beneficial to get the team back on the right track.
“We discussed what we could do better as a team to prepare for our games such as a better warm up, more focus, more intensity at practice,” Stirrett said. “It was the captains that lead the discussion and no coaches were there.”
Both Stirrett and Elster acknowledged that the high expectations in the preseason might have contributed to their recent hardships on the field.
“Since we were given such high rankings, and we’re traditionally a pretty good team, I think it maybe got in our head that we don’t have to work as hard,” Elster said. “We feel like we’re Plainfield North and we can just step on the field and win it. We’ve talked as a team and reminded ourselves that we have to remember to earn our spot and not let rankings get to our head.”
The day off of practice also served to give the team some much needed rest for the start of the Pepsi Tournament, which began last Saturday. The team opened up the tournament with a 4-0 rout of Maine South, a necessary victory to some given the recent slide.
“The win we had over Maine South will help us get back in the groove of winning and playing hard,” Stirrett said. “Once we started losing, it got in our heads too much.
Traditionally, the Tigers have performed well at the Pepsi Tournament, finishing second last year to New Trier. They hope to build on their past success and return to the championship at DePaul University on April 24.
“Our next games are going to be tough,” Stirrett said. “But if we play with the same intensity we had Saturday night, we will be perfectly fine and make it to the championship for the second year in a row.”
With a month and a half left in their season, the Tigers look to recover from their slump and make a deep push in the postseason, after being eliminated by Metea the past two seasons. Perhaps the team can emulate their early season success against Metea and prove themselves worthy of the hype.

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Girls’ Soccer faces adversity, high expectations to start season