St. Charles North goalkeeper Shelby Stitz has allowed only one goal on the season entering play Friday, and that came on a penalty kick in the team’s only defeat, against Neuqua Valley.
Stitz, though, doesn’t receive the acclaim that such a sterling record might command, largely because North has been so dominant that she’s had relatively few opportunities to come up big.
North coach Ruth Vostal, though, said the North Stars have seen enough to trust in Stitz.
“I can think of an awesome save at Batavia, I can think of a couple of saves [against St. Charles East],” Vostal said. “I think that’s even harder when you’re not getting a ton of shots in a game, to mentally stay in it.”
North returns a large chunk of last season’s IHSA Class 3A state runners-up team but starting Stitz in goal is one of this year’s team’s new twists. She stood tall in Tuesday’s 1-0 win against St. Charles East.
“One of her goals for this game was to be in it for 80 minutes, so shuffling, moving with the ball, because I think it’s hard to stay in it,” Vostal said. “Like I said, she’s come up big a couple of times when we needed her to.”
As she was against East, Stitz figures to be tested more than usual during matches in Wisconsin and Iowa, where the North Stars will take on some out-of-state competition. Vostal said she’s looking forward to the trips each of the next two weekends “just to see something different, so we can sort of gauge where we are against other people.”
“You can also experiment, try different formations, you can try different set pieces, and no one in the area is watching,” Vostal said.
Veteran Viking defense
Geneva snapped out of a recent slump this week with consecutive shutout wins, 2-0 against Rosary on Saturday and 1-0 against Kaneland on Monday.
Winning thanks to sturdy defense isn’t a surprise for the Vikings, who returned much of their experience this spring on the back line.
“I think we’re really solid,” junior defender Tory Herbst said. “I mean, me, Annie [Waldoch] and Molly [Stanfa] have been playing together for several years, and [Megan] Kozlow is our new addition. We get Megan in there, we get Maggie [Bodine] in there. I think we’re solid. I think we are good at communicating and good at reading each other back there.
“So regardless of what we play formation-wise, I think we’re always going to be solid. I think we’re all just kind of wired that way. I think we’re pretty strong. We have good chemistry.”
Monday’s Geneva-Kaneland match on an inclement night likely would not have taken place without Geneva’s turf field, but that doesn’t mean Knights coach Scott Parillo is a fan of the artificial surface.
Parillo said he considers turf harder on players’ joints, especially girls’ players. Parillo, though, recognized that turf has its benefits.
“I just worry about injuries for kids but, hey, you don’t have to worry about the weather,” Parillo said. “You don’t have to worry about being all muddy and slimy and nasty on turf.
“Hey, these teams have a nice advantage over us on the turf because they can get [outside]. We weren’t able to get out. We had ice all over our field.”
– Jay Schwab, email@example.com
IN THE GROOVE
Kelly Manski, St. Charles North, Sr., M
What she did: Manski added another notch to her impressive senior season, scoring the lone goal Tuesday in the North Stars' 1-0 win against St. Charles East. The win clinched at least a share of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title for North.
Kaity Bucaro, St. Francis, Sr., F
What she did: Bucaro tallied two of the three goals for the undefeated Spartans in Tuesday's 3-0 Suburban Christian Conference win against Marian Central.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
St. Charles North is going to emerge as Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion.
With only a final conference match against lightly regarded Streamwood standing in its way of an unbeaten, 6-0 run through River opponents, the North Stars are in commanding position to unseat Geneva as conference champion.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether Batavia and Geneva can get a measure of Tri-Cities satisfaction.
The Bulldogs and Vikings have each already lost to both St. Charles teams but will take a shot at each other Tuesday in Geneva.