The OPRF girls soccer team plans on taking small steps this season to better a mediocre 10-9 record from its 2009 campaign. And with nine young starters back with a year of experience and an offseason rife with competitive club ball, the Huskies may be stepping in the right direction.
Of the nine returners from a team that finished fourth in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, twin sisters Emily Gullo and Tori Gullo are expected to provide a lift on offense. Emily led the Huskies in scoring as a sophomore last season with 11 goals.
“She got noticed a lot as a sophomore and this could be her break out year,” said OPRF head coach Paul Wright of Emily. “But you cannot forget her twin. Tori played for a top club team this past fall and really honed her skills.”
Also returning to the fray for the Huskies are seniors Alex Neuman, Stephanie Sullivan and Maggie Tansey, also a basketball player at OPRF. Neumann took last season off to play club soccer, but was a starter for the Huskies her sophomore season.
“She will be a huge addition for us,” said Wright of Neuman, who recently signed a Division I scholarship to play at Mississippi Valley State next season.
Sullivan, a stopper, will anchor a relatively young defense. Sophomore Katy Oldach will tend the goal for the Huskies, while newcomers Mikaela Gillman and Maggie Schurr will provide depth.
Returning juniors Shelby Cozette, Sarah McCall, Kate McCole and Jessica Luetrell are expected to make a significant impact this season. Luetrell, a starting center midfielder last year, missed most of last season after suffering a broken wrist and then a concussion.
“We should be an offensive threat this season with all the starters returning in the midfield,” said Wright. “We took a ton of lumps last year starting six sophomore players and still were pretty successful against the top teams out there.”
The Huskies, who kicked off the season with a 0-0 tie against Naperville Central and a 4-0 win over Elmwood Park last week, host Riverside-Brookfield on Thursday (5 p.m.). They’ll open the prestigious Pepsi Showdown at Deerfield on April 6.
OPRF hosts area-rival Trinity on April 22, but perhaps the bigger highlight of the team’s schedule will be a May 14th visit from cross-town rival Fenwick. With a 7 p.m. start time, the two teams will go head-to-head under the lights at Oak Park Stadium. Both programs are using the event as a fundraiser. It will also be the final regular season game for both teams.