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Girls soccer insider: Batavia aims to keep it moving

Batavia’s Nina Ellmann (left) and St. Charles North’s Ashlyn Walter chase the ball during a match Monday at St. Charles North in St. Charles.
Batavia’s Nina Ellmann (left) and St. Charles North’s Ashlyn Walter chase the ball during a match Monday at St. Charles North in St. Charles.

Until Tuesday’s 5-0 win against Elgin, Batavia had gone six straight matches in which it scored no more than one goal.

The Elgin win could be a springboard to rejuvenate the Bulldogs’ attack, and coach Mark Gianfrancesco also is glad to have until April 17 before the team plays another match, allowing time to emphasize concepts in practice that could make Batavia more dangerous.

“I think the biggest thing is just finding space off the ball and then being willing to interchange, whether it’s defenders, midfielders, forwards, to create space for each other as they continue moving, which then creates opportunities for everybody,” Gianfrancesco said. “That’s really the biggest thing rather than being very stagnant or [limited] to the structure of the formation you’re playing.”

Gianfrancesco said he wants the Bulldogs to be more “free-flowing,” but players can be reluctant to take risks for fear of being caught out of position. Gianfrancesco wants to see the Bulldogs (3-4-1) make themselves trickier to mark by more often darting into open space.

“It depends on the level of players you might have,” Gianfrancesco said. “I think we’ve got the players that can do that but it depends on who trained them in the offseason and stuff. … If they’re playing at a high level, they do that automatically without thinking.”

Quick start for Kane

Under new coach Kristy Kane, Aurora Central Catholic (3-0-1) already has matched last year’s win total.

Kane gushed about her players’ effort and attitude, acknowledging that the winning results are undoubtedly playing a large role.

“When you go through an entire season and only win three games, that really wears on you,” Kane said. “So I feel like part of reason they’ve been playing their heart out every game is it feels very different than last year in that they’re winning and they’re [experiencing] success.”

Kane came to ACC from Rosary, where most of the girls in the program play soccer year-round. That’s not the case at ACC, meaning the Chargers have had to rely on a scrappy, defensive-minded brand of soccer.

“I think we have some really skilled players but I think we also have players that don’t have the opportunity to play year-round,” Kane said. “Like a lot of players on the team this year, this is their only chance they get to play during the year, so of course their skill level is not the same at the beginning of the season as a kid who has played in summer league or club team in the fall and winter league.”

Kane is now two weeks away from what promises to be an emotional match April 24 as her old team, Rosary, visits ACC.

“I think the girls would really love to win that game, of course,” Kane said. “I know they’ll play their hearts out in that game for me. I definitely would love to win but it’s more about seeing all these kids I really care about playing. Of course I want ACC to win but it’s more about I really care about all the girls, the Rosary girls and ACC girls. They all know I care about them. … They’re all part of my history as a coach.”

Tradition doesn’t graduate

St. Charles North lost some excellent players from last year’s team – including Chronicle Player of the Year Kelly Manski and First Team All-Area selections Alex Gage and Kenzie Rose – but the perennial powerhouse North Stars are off to another strong start.

North is 4-1 and outscored conference opponents Batavia and Larkin by a combined 11-0 total this week.

“It seems like every year, we graduate between eight and 16,” North coach Ruth Vostal said after Monday’s win over Batavia. “I mean, it’s a large number every year. Some people say, ‘Oh, we graduated all these players, we’re going to do …’ And I look at the history of St. Charles North and I feel like we do that year after year, and we just have quality players in the program that fill those gaps. 

“I do think this is a talented team, and we just need to figure out how to play together, and I think that takes time and we’re doing lots of different things to help that happen a little bit more quickly. But a lot of that is just timing of the season and where we are.”

– Jay Schwab,


Sophie Pohl, St. Charles North, Sr., F

What she did: Pohl had a goal and four assists in Tuesday’s win against Larkin, one day after the Toledo recruit notched a pair of goals in a win against Batavia.

Brittany Olson, Kaneland, Sr., F/M

What she did: Olson scored all three goals Monday as Kaneland topped recent nemesis Rosary, 3-0, in Maple Park.


Rosary is off to a rocky start.

The Royals recorded a much-needed, 3-0 win against Guerin on Tuesday for first-year coach Brian Frank’s first victory, but the Royals (1-3) still need to make progress to earn better results against some of the more competitive teams on their schedule.


How Geneva and host St. Charles East fare at the Rose Augsburg-Drach Invitational.

The conference rivals will meet on the final day of the tournament at 5 p.m. Saturday after both teams have faced Naperville Central and Schaumburg to open the round-robin event.


How about St. Charles North’s JV winning a tournament against varsity competition? Good golly.

It was unfortunate that a scheduling miscue caused North’s varsity to drop out of an event out at Downers, but the Stars’ JV stepped up to the plate in grand fashion.

What better way for North to flex its program muscle than by having its JV girls take it to other teams’ varsity?

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