BATAVIA – Identical twins are known to mimic one another in the name of good-natured mischief, but the Renfus twins took it further than either of them would have liked this season.
In a bizarre and improbable twist, both sisters suffered torn ACLs this soccer season, exactly one month apart. The sophomores will be reduced to moral supporters as the Bulldogs open the IHSA Class 3A Lake Park Regional today against Hoffman Estates.
Tori Renfus went down with a right knee tear March 26 during an early-season match against Lake Park. On April 26, Paige Renfus tore her left ACL during overtime of a tournament match in Burlington, Iowa.
“I felt like I wanted to cry,” Tori Renfus said. “Neither of us usually go down in pain. We usually walk it off, so when Paige fell to the ground, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t think it was the ACL like mine.”
Paige Renfus will have her surgery today through Fox Valley Orthopedics, the same group that handled Tori’s procedure on April 16. Unlike Tori, Paige also tore her MCL.
“She’s been asking a lot of questions and I’ve done my best to answer them,” Tori Renfus said. “I told her some exercises she should do prior to the surgery to strengthen the quad muscle so rehab is a little easier, and what to expect before the surgery and after.”
Added Paige: “Tori went into it blindly, and I have the gist of what will happen to me when I do it, so I think it’s easier for me.”
On Monday, the sisters kept each other company – as usual – as their teammates participated in the Bulldogs’ final practice leading up to the postseason.
They credit their teammates for plenty of moral support, and Bulldogs coach Mark Gianfrancesco said the twins have reciprocated.
“It goes to show what type of people they are and what type of team we have that they want to come out and be a part of it,” Gianfrancesco said. “Even in practice, it can be raining, they want to come out. I tell them not to come out. They want to go shag balls – ‘Nope, don’t do that.’ They want to go out and shake hands – ‘Hey, we’ll bring it over to you.’ They just want to be involved.”
Both 16-year-olds were part of a deep rotation at forward for Batavia (11-4-3), with Tori Renfus having little chance to make her mark since her injury came so early in the season.
Tori Renfus said her injury came about when she landed poorly while pursuing a rebound, while Paige Renfus’ leg bent awkwardly after contact with a defender.
Considering what happened to Tori on March 26 and Paige on April 26, the twins joked that they’ll be advising their older sister Kallie Renfus – a former Rosary soccer player and current college freshman at Notre Dame – to stay in her room May 26.
While their shared medical fate this spring defies the odds, their give-and-take as twins is much more relatable.
“It’s interesting,” Paige Renfus said. “We have some days that we get along really well and some days that we kind of butt heads a little. But it’s common with sisters. We go everywhere together.”
The Bulldogs’ program has been on the upswing the past couple years after a multi-season rut before Gianfrancesco took the reins. Gianfrancesco noted that a substantial chunk of last year’s team that advanced to a regional final against Conant is back.
This year, the Bulldogs are the favorite by seed to win a regional crown, with Lake Park or Glenbard North to provide the opposition in Friday’s regional final if the Bulldogs handle lightly regarded Hoffman Estates tonight.
“It’s nice to get the expectation of having a high seed and the goal of winning a regional,” Gianfrancesco said. “Winning a regional, every year, at the minimum, should be the goal. They worked hard during the season to put themselves in that position. Now it’s time to take advantage of that opportunity.”
GIRLS SOCCER REGIONALS BREAKDOWN
Today's Class 3A regional semifinals
(2) St. Charles East vs. (16) Larkin, 4:30 p.m.
(7) Geneva vs. (12) Bartlett, 6:30 p.m.
Lake Park Regional
(3) Batavia vs. (15) Hoffman Estates, 5 p.m.
Today's Class 2A regional semifinals
(1) Burlington Central vs. (4) Hampshire, 4:30 p.m.
(1) Rosary vs. (4) Rochelle, 4 p.m.
(2) St. Francis vs. (15) Kennedy, 4 p.m.
Glenbard South Regional
(4) Wheaton Academy vs. (13) Hancock, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday's Class 3A regional semifinal
(1) St. Charles North vs. (13) DeKalb, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday's Class 2A regional semifinal
(2) Kaneland vs. (3) IMSA at Rochelle Regional, 4 p.m.
MOST INTRIGUING FIRST ROUND MATCHUP
St. Charles North vs. DeKalb at 3A DeKalb Regional. The North Stars are a heavy favorite in this one but DeKalb is a relatively unknown foe for North, and the Barbs will be comfortable at home. North's 3-0 loss to Waubonsie Valley in the North Stars' regular season finale has to at least give DeKalb some hope, though the North Stars should be a healthier bunch Wednesday than they were that night.
BEST POTENTIAL REGIONAL FINAL
Geneva vs. St. Charles East at 3A Bartlett Regional. The Saints beat the Vikings twice in a span of less than a week in early April but Geneva has played its best soccer the last couple weeks of the regular season, including a 4-0 win last week against a Bartlett team that the Vikings will meet in tonight's regional semifinal. East should have little trouble against Larkin in today's first semifinal. The final is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
POTENTIAL DARK HORSE
Kaneland at 2A Rochelle Regional. Kaneland has been on the wrong side of extensive postseason history with Rosary in recent years, and the top-seeded Royals are riding high after a thrilling win against St. Francis in penalty kicks on Saturday to give Rosary the Suburban Christian Conference title. But the Knights tied the Royals during the regular season, and Kaneland goalkeeper Jordan Ginther is capable of matching the game-changing goalkeeping play Rosary often gets from Lauren Frasca.
BEST BET TO WIN A REGIONAL TITLE
St. Francis at 2A Solorio Regional. St. Francis lost its first game in Saturday's regular season finale against Rosary but the defensively dominant, defending 2A state champion Spartans should have little trouble brushing off that disappointment against a regional field that features seventh-seeded Riverside-Brookfield as the likely opposition in Friday's regional final.