by Doug Oleson
KANELAND—Have fun, stay healthy, and improve with every game.
Those are among the goals head coach Scott Parillo has for the Kaneland girls soccer team, which was scheduled to open its season this week, weather permitting.
“Our goal is to score goals,” said Parillo, who is in his 11th season as head coach after two as an assistant.
At least two of his players have a slightly higher goal.
“Our biggest goal is to win the Regional,” junior forward Ashley Crotteau said.
Although fellow junior Emily Chapman is confident they can achieve this goal, she said, “We’re just going to take it one step at a time.”
Both girls are among the 17 returning players on this year’s 22-player varsity squad. A year ago, the Lady Knights went 14-4-2. One of their losses was to St. Charles East, which finished second in the Illinois High School Association’s 3A state playoffs. Another loss was to Normal, which took second in 2A. After sharing the conference title with Sycamore—who should contend for this year’s crown along with DeKalb—the Lady Knights season ended unexpectedly with a surprising loss to Rosary on penalty kicks in the Regional championship.
“It was an upset,” Parillo admitted.
Disappointing as it was at the time, the loss is serving as incentive for this year’s squad, which is headed by six returning All-Conference players: Chapman; Madison Jurcenko, a senior midfielder/forward; Holly Collingbourne, a sophomore midfielder/forward; Taylor Zitkus, sophomore defender; and Courtney Diddell, senior midfielder.
The other seniors on the team are Emily Grams, Colleen Landers, Taylor Opperman and Heather Ortiz.
Like all area sports teams, the Kaneland crew—which started practice March 2—has pretty much been confined to the high school gym because of the cold and the snow. In fact, it wasn’t until last week that the girls ventured outside for the first time.
“We put on our water wings outside and played,” Parillo said jokingly.
Being inside, everyone agreed, limits what a team can work on.
“You can’t do too much inside,” Parillo said.
According to Chapman, the team has mainly been focusing on getting in a lot of touches and small side scrimmages.
“It’s been hard in the gym,” Crotteau said, noting they’ve still been passing and playing well together. “I am really excited and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish.”
The girls were scheduled to start their season at home on Wednesday by hosting Hinckley-Big Rock. As of press time, Parillo said the match was in doubt because there was still ice on the field, which is shaded by the school and doesn’t get enough sunlight. The girls are also scheduled to play at IMSA on Thursday before traveling to Belvidere for a 10 a.m. match.
After playing in Rosary on Wednesday, March 26, the Lady Knights have a long break, not retuning to action until Tuesday, April 7, when they host DeKalb.
Photo: Senior Heather Ortiz (left) and the Knights hope to get past the Regional tournament in 2015. File Photo