Varsity girls find direction against St. Charles North North Stars

 Sophomore midfielder Riley Gumm retrieves the ball from going out of bounds against St. Charles North on April 23rd. “I’m so proud of everyone. We were in our element today,” Gumm said. Photo by Kelsey Gara.

Adding another win to what has been a positive season, East’s varsity girls’ soccer team took down the St. Charles North Stars with a score of 3-1 on Saturday, April 23rd.

Sophomore defender Abigail Triska said that the team was prepared walking into the game, looking to add another win to a solid 9-1 season.

“We knew they were a really good team, but so were we,” Triska said. “Everyone had their game face on.”

St. Charles North’s lineup was strong, and their team had the potential to become a formidable opponent, but the Wolves’ tenacity and skill earned them a goal by sophomore midfielder Anya Gulbrandsen by the middle of the half and kept the North Stars at bay.

“We were confident going into the game, but scoring the first goal strengthened our confidence,” Gulbrandsen said. “It was really rewarding.”

Near the end of the first half, Gulbrandsen scored the second goal by heading the ball and flipping over into the opposing goal.

Gulbrandsen said she felt the love from her teammates and coaches after the must-see moment.

“It was such a cool moment for me, but scoring any goal is,” Gulbrandsen said. “My team has a lot of respect for one another, and it showed.”

While in the halftime huddle, junior goalkeeper Sam McPhee said the team discussed both the highs and lows, what to maintain, and what to change.

“The main point was to secure the game and keep going,” McPhee said. “We were all so happy that we had played so well against such a strong team.”

St. Charles North did not go down without a fight though, keeping a strong defensive and offensive side, even pressuring East to score on their own goal. Junior forward Erika Smiley said the North Stars’ persistence and aggression was surprising but not enough to throw off the Wolves.

“St. Charles North had played well this season and we knew that walking in and during the game,” Smiley said. “But we were prepared to go up against anything they threw at us.”

Despite the challenges, East came out on top with a goal by Smiley with three minutes left in the half. Sophomore midfielder Riley Gumm said the satisfaction of playing and winning against a top ten state ranked team is matched by nothing else.

“Winning was such a rewarding experience because every girl on that field put in all their effort,” Gumm said. “We are always there for each other to lift each other up, and this game was no different.”

The journey isn’t over yet for the Wolves, though.

Head Coach Juan Leal said his team will continue to work hard to keep adding wins to their record, and even make it to conference, regional, and state championships.

“We need to clean up our 50/50 ball win percentage and to move the ball a little quicker to open players,” Leal said. “We have definitely seen progress as the season has gone by and we also see the confidence growing in our team.”

Though there is progress to be made, McPhee said their win against the North Stars will be remembered and celebrated for the rest of the season.

“I am unbelievably proud of my team,” McPhee said. “The feeling of walking off that field and hugging everyone was unreal.”

The Wolves face off against the Plainfield Central Wildcats at home for Senior Night on Tuesday, April 26th.

Kelsey Gara is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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