Princeton looks to rebuild its soccer machine, while Hall and DePue continues to build their programs. Here’s a look at the BCR soccer teams, who anxiously await some warmer spring weather to take to the soccer pitch.
Princeton: With just two returning starters from last year’s sectional championship and the graduation of Jasmine Kunkel, the 2012 BCR Player of the Year and the program’s all-time leading scorer, the Tigresses face a major rebuilding project. Fourteen-year coach Ed Young is taking it one step at a time, piece by piece.
“We have much to learn. I have to evaluate individual qualities, position players and determine a system that suits their abilities and personalities,” said Young, the only head coach the PHS program has had. “A young, athletic team will rapidly improve half by half of matches. We have to discover our identity: leadership, style and strengths. Technical abilities will improve daily.”
Senior captain Lexi Marselle (sweeper/stopper) and junior Kelly Schmidt (GK) are the only returning starters. The Tigresses also bring back juniors Emma Reidner (M), and sophomores Keyenna Alitzer (F), Maleena Wheeler (F), Ellie Bonucci (D), Sarah Crowe (D) and Kim Schlesinger (M).
The additions of junior Liz Stites and Michelle Kelly will provide a physical presence in the midfield, Young said. The Tigresses coach also looks for sophomore Brianna Barajas (D) and freshman Eliza Young (M) to make an immediate impact.
Other contributors will be seniors Becca Turpen (D/GK) and Kelsey Funderberg (D), sophomore Kallie Albrecht (D) and freshman Michaela Strom (M). Rounding out the squad are seniors Sheila Ferguson (M) and Lexi Strom (D) and juniors Erin Makransky (M), Brit Hayes (M) and Lindsay Hartwig (GK) and sophomore Maria Vitale (F).
“The goal is to improve every day, grow together as a team, and represent PHS and Princeton with pride and dignity,” Young said. “We believe we will be competitive in the regional and sectional.”
The Tigresses fell 5-0 in Monday’s season opener at Dunlap. They are scheduled to play this Monday at Rock Island.
Hall: Darcy Earley, who has coached nearly every girls sport offered at Hall, takes over the soccer program in its fourth year. She has 17 girls in uniform in all, including 10 returners, playing only a varsity schedule only this year.
Despite having unfavorable weather to practice, and having four games postponed, the new Lady Devil coach said things are going well. They fell 8-0 at Bloomington Central Catholic in Thursday’s season opener.
“It makes it hard to focus on what the team needs to work on the most, and it is hard to gauge our improvement without seeing them play against other teams,” Early said. “The girls are adjusting to my coaching style which is a bit more intense than what they are use to … Practices seem to fly by, even in the cold weather. There seems to be so much to work on and so little time. There are some girls that really work hard, and I am hoping the rest of the team starts to put forth the same dedication and effort the core is.”
Senior captain Alicia Detmers, who gave the Hall program its first win to date with a goal against Indian Creek last year, returns at forward/midfield. Other key personnel include junior defenders Maria Villalobos and Rebecca Schmidt, junior striker Vanessa Olivares and sophomore Adriana Avila (M/F) and freshman Alicyn Olson (M/F), who Early said has been a nice surprise this year. Junior Hope Conner will take over on goal this year.
Early said preseason conditioning has made a big difference in the girls that came regularly.
DePue: The Lady Giants step into the varsity ranks for the first time full-time, with boys coach Tim Stevens at the reigns. The Lady Giants’ roster is 23 strong but has just five seniors and no juniors. They will play just six games plus a tournament.
“Our varsity will be like a JV team with a few seniors on it. That’s basically what it is,” Stevens said. “I find it good, though. It makes them better in the long run. I think we’ll surprise ourselves. That’s what we’re going for.”
The Lady Giants have postponed four games already, and Stevens said the jury’s still out whether they’ll get to play Monday. He said being limited in practice has made it difficult teaching such a young team.
“I worry about spacing when you go from a gym to more of a soccer field that’s two or three times the size,” said Stevens, noting the few times they’ve gone outdoors really hasn’t been worth it because of the distraction of how cold it is.
“I’m a firm believer you win games early by having good spacing and good speed, and we’re getting hindered with that.”
Stevens will turn to Jessica Gavina, Amalia Lopez, Velinda Lopez, Alicia Marquez and Nancy Raya for senior leadership. They will be supported by a cast of 18 underclassmen including freshman Marisol Rios (F) and Marisela Garcia, who is battling Amalia Lopez, the incumbent for the starting keeper job.
IHSA assignments: The IHSA has released its postseason assignments, sending all three county teams to the Rock Island Alleman Regional. From there, they would go to the Bloomington Sectional and Mendota Super-Sectional.
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