A number of soccer coaches would be patting themselves on the back if their squads entered the third week of the season unbeaten and unscored upon.
But Fenwick coach Chris Richter knows better than to gloat with three tough matches on tap this week, highlighted by Saturday’s showdown with rival OPRF.
“Only a coach could be unhappy at this point,” said Richter, whose team entered the week with a 2-0 record and had outscored its opponents 8-0. “There is still quite a bit to be done.
“We’ve changed the way that we’ve played in the past, and are slowly beginning to use our athleticism to help us play our type of soccer. In the past, we’ve let our athleticism lull us into letting the game be too sloppy and speed oriented in transition.”
Goalie Angela Righeimer, midfielder Erin Hussey and freshman Molly Sutton have been three bright spots for the Friars early on during Richter’s first season as head coach.
“You need a solid core of leaders for any transition, and we are fortunate to have the group of seniors that we have,” Richter said. “These seniors went Downstate as freshmen, and they’ll be the ones controlling how long their season lasts this year.
“OPRF is a quick team and they’re fundamentally sound. That’s a dangerous combo.”
While Fenwick has shown a new style early this spring, OPRF has done just the same in coach Paul Wright’s inaugural season as head girls coach.
“I had most of these girls when they were freshmen,” said Wright, who was promoted from the freshmen level in the off-season. “This season is going good so far, and we’ve thrown a lot of new ideas out on the pitch. The girls had a real explosion in growth at first, and now we are slow getting to where we need to be.”
Despite a tough early season schedule that has included battles with Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central and Glenbrook South, McKenzie Kula has shined for the Huskies with eight goals and three assists.
Midfielders Allison Colucci and Casey Blaha and defender Kate Hennig will need to have big games on Saturday if OPRF hopes to walk away with a victory.
“We’ve had some moments when we have really shined,” said Wright, whose team will host Saturday’s 1 p.m. showdown. “But there has been some lapse of thinking at times.
“We have made some poor decisions that we have been punished on. We have to come ready to play on Saturday.”