By Marty Farmer
While Oak Park and River Forest High School's 6-1 win over visiting Trinity on Friday looked impressive across the board, Huskies girls soccer coach Ignacio Ponce valued a particular patch of stellar play.
"For about 10 or 15 minutes, we had our 11 starters on the field, and it looked really different," Ponce said. "When we're healthy, I feel like we can compete with anybody."
While the OPRF sideline hasn't exactly served as a MASH unit this spring, nagging injuries have been a bugaboo for the Huskies.
Junior forwards Lauren Wilkes (ankle) and Ruby Gonzalez (back), along with junior defender Wren Osler (ankle), have been in and out of the lineup.
Against Trinity, Tess Trinka stepped up for the Huskies, scoring four goals. Erin Schrobilgen and Osler each chipped in a goal, while Gonzalez tallied three assists. Patricia Witt and Maggie Blaha also added an assist apiece.
Leading 3-1 at halftime, the Huskies (11-5-1, 3-2 West Suburban Silver) put the game out of reach with three goals in the second half. Trinka scored twice and Osler nailed an unassisted free kick from 20 yards out during the Huskies' second-half scoring flurry.
"At halftime, we reminded our players to not take Trinity lightly," Ponce said. "Trinity has a good program with some talented young players. We talked about making a few adjustments; the girls picked up on it well."
OPRF also celebrated its Senior Night, honoring Witt, Blaha, Elise Delligrazie, Alicia Gerin, Naomi Johnson, Olivia O'Sullivan, Nicole Smart and Emily Verticchio.
"Our seniors have meant a lot to the soccer program," Ponce said. "We're trying to make the OPRF-Trinity game a tradition."
Ponce also enjoyed a personal reunion of sorts a week ago when OPRF hosted Proviso West, where he previously coached before joining the Huskies.
OPRF cruised to a 5-0 victory as Osler and Gerin scored two goals apiece and Meredith Blatner contributed a goal. Trinka, Blaha, Blatner, Johnson and Robin Wang each added an assist.
"It's always a pleasure to play against Proviso West," Ponce said. "I had a good experience coaching there, and their kids play hard. It was an important win for us because it was a conference game."
While Hinsdale Central has clinched the West Suburban Conference Silver title, OPRF still can earn a share of second place with a victory at Lyons Township this week.
"It would be nice to get a share of second with York and LT," Ponce said. "It's a match we certainly want to win, but we'll see how it goes. Our main priority is to be healthy for the playoffs."
Ponce is optimistic the Huskies will have their full complement of players when they open the postseason against regional host Wheaton North on Tuesday, May 14 (6:30 p.m.). If OPRF defeats the Falcons, Hinsdale Central will likely be the Huskies' opponent in the Wheaton North Regional title game, Friday, May 17 (6 p.m.).
"We have a great training staff that's really focused on getting the girls healthy for the stretch run," Ponce said.