St. Charles North outscored opponents, 28-3, in winning four of its five home matches during the girls soccer regular season.
If numbers never lie, how can it be that the North Stars still haven’t fully defended their home turf?
“We try our best, because I know our field isn’t in the best shape at home,” sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Stitz said.
“It’s got bumps and it’s got so much dirt that it’s hard to possess,” senior midfielder Alex Gage added.
Whle North would be unlikely to refuse hosting duties at any juncture of the 3A postseason, the fact is players feel quite comfortable on artificial playing surfaces. After sweeping through regionals on the turf of the new DeKalb High last week, North happily will set foot on the fake stuff again for today’s Hoffman Estates Sectional semifinal against Conant.
Last month, North Stars coach Ruth Vostal called the team’s best effort to date a 1-0 victory at Milwaukee power Divine Savior Holy Angels. The game was played with snow dotting the field and in the midst of North’s 11-match winning streak.
Still, Vostal used the superlative because the North Stars out-hustled, out-distributed and out-possessed their foes on the Wisconsin turf.
For a speedy possession team with depth to spare, that’s the ultimate idea on the ultimate playing field.
“We like it just because it’s more of an even surface. More of a consistency in our passing in and our shooting,” sophomore forward/midfielder Hanna Durocher said. “It’s just better for us.”
While athletes and coaches are understandbly loath to look past opponents, North enters sectionals with a perfect record against the rest of the field. The North Stars defeated Conant, 2-0, to open the season and blanked Batavia and Geneva – the teams in tonight’s second semifinal – by the same score during Upstate Eight Conference River Division play in the second week of April.
The sectional winner earns the right to possibly finish the season on turf. Barrington, the supersectional host, features an artificial surface at its stadium, just like state tournament host North Central College in Naperville.
Should the defending 3A runner-up North Stars advance, they’ll feel good about their footing.
“There’s no excuse for a bad touch or a bad trap,” Gage said. “Being on a turf field is a lot better than being on grass.”
Hall of a Knight: Ralph Drendel and Kerry Rink unquestionably impacted Kaneland track and field during the 1980s, with Drendel coaching the boys team at his alma mater and Rink starring as a top girls athlete.
Their interactions were sparse then – Drendel always let then-girls coach Pat Scheetz “do his thing” – but Drendel charted Rink’s accomplishments nonetheless.
“I just watched her in amazement in how competitive she was. The whole Rink family is just like her,” Drendel said. “All the kids played athletics and they contributed alot to Kaneland athletics. It was fun watching her.”
Drendel and Rink will be reunited tonight, as both are set for induction into the athletic wing of the Kaneland Hall of Fame. A reception begins at 6:15 p.m. in the Kaneland auditorium lobby. The ceremony is expected to start around 7.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.