St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison has coached Saints soccer since 2008, first with the boys program, and later adding girls coaching duties to his plate.
By now, Jennison believes he can accurately project what he’s working with before the season begins, saying he’s generally experienced few surprises that he didn’t see coming.
“To be honest, I think most coaches know what they’re working with before the season starts,” Jennison said. “Once you pick your team, I think in that preseason, you start to get a grasp for what you’ve got.
“I would be very surprised if any coach said they came out on the field and found a team they didn’t know that they had.”
Jennison has coached some prolific offensive teams at East and others that have struggled to put away their share of scoring opportunities.
That ability to finish often is a make-or-break characteristic in a team’s season. Through two games this spring, East has seen mixed results, ending in a scoreless tie against Fremd before ripping Streamwood on Tuesday, 8-1.
That small sample size aside, Jennison thinks the Saints have the makings of a productive offensive team.
“You’re always hoping if you put the ball in the box and you get service in net that people are going to attack it,” Jennison said. “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much you can deliver it, if kids don’t want to get on the end of the ball, you’re going to struggle. I think we’ve got girls that want to get on the end and want to attack that.”
Geneva coach Megan Owens is looking forward to seeing what Michaela Loebel can add to the Vikings’ mix this season.
The senior forward did not play in Saturday’s win against West Aurora because of a spring break conflict but saw action last week against East Aurora. Loebel, a Nebraska recruit, missed last season with a torn ACL and encountered additional knee woes during basketball season that sidelined her for part of the winter.
Owens said Loebel is working back into soccer game shape. She could form a strong 1-2 scoring punch with Mary Landry, who has scored in each of the Vikings’ first three matches.
“She definitely feels comfortable with the knee and stuff like that, so we’re excited to have her back this year,” Owens said. “We missed her all last year. She didn’t get to play at all, so we’re excited to see what she can do up top for us.”
Position change afoot
Rosary junior standout Maria Witte will move from defense to a center-midfield role this season, according to first-year Rosary coach Brian Frank.
Frank said Witte’s skills are needed to help stir the Royals’ attack. The junior made a college commitment during the winter to St. Cloud State (Minn.).
Witte (recovering from a concussion) did not play in either of Rosary’s first two matches – losses to Oswego and Oswego East – but Frank is hopefully she can return for the Royals’ next match Monday against Kaneland.
– Jay Schwab, firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE GROOVE
What the Vikings did: Riding the play of veteran stalwarts such as Molly Stanfa and Tory Herbst, Geneva’s defense has shut out each of its first three opponents to start the season, most recently blanking West Aurora, 4-0, on Saturday.
Darcy Cunningham, St. Charles East, Jr., F
What she did: Cunningham scored a pair of goals Tuesday as St. Charles East opened Upstate Eight Conference River play with an 8-1 thumping of Streamwood.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
St. Charles North coach Ruth Vostal’s toughness rubs off on her players.
Competing on a night with temperatures in the 20s (not to mention an even harsher wind chill), North kept its eyes on the prize in defeating a solid opponent, Neuqua Valley, 1-0.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Who comes out top Monday in the latest edition of the hotly contested Kaneland-Rosary rivalry.
While the Knights and Royals are not conference rivals, the teams have developed a major rivalry based on their frequent postseason clashes. Rosary has eliminated Kaneland in three of the past four seasons, including a 2-1, double overtime victory last year in the IHSA Class 2A Rochelle Regional final.
COACH SLY SAYS
The Tri-Cities has some seasoned keepers this year.
East brings back Kendra Sheehan, North brings back Shelby Stitz and Geneva returns Samantha Hauser.
Already, we’ve seen some big saves out of these girls, and all three have enough talent around them where all it’ll take is one or two big saves a match to keep their teams rolling most nights.
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– Jay Schwab, email@example.com