In seven games this spring, the Fenwick High School girls soccer team has a 6-1 record and has outscored its opponents, 26-3. The Friars are off to a very encouraging start, considering the team finished 8-7-1 and lost to York 3-0 in a Class 3A regional final last season. Fenwick also moves down to Class 2A this spring which should improve the team’s postseason chances.

Records and projections aside, optimism is mostly warranted due to the Friars’ abundance of returning players. Senior goalkeeper McKenzie Blaze, senior midfielders Lauren Stibich and Kaylie Fredian, senior forward Morgan Hosty, junior midfielder Anissa Nourse, and junior forward Mary Kate Kapsch lead a balanced Fenwick squad. Familiarity has bred success.

“Having so many upperclassmen has allowed us to have a quicker start than many teams,” Stibich said. “We have a great base with so many leaders. All we’re doing this year is building upon our base.”

Defensively, the Friars have a strong backline featuring Shannon Ehrhardt, Tess Shannon, Lauren Miller, Alyssa Ruiz and Marguax Shearer. Midfielders Regan Holquist and Anna Waring complement Stibich, Fredian and Nourse. Known for her speed, sophomore Lily Reardon plays forward along with Hosty.

“Going into our games, we hype each other up and also focus on what is ahead of us,” Waring said. “I believe our selflessness with the ball definitely contributes to our success. We trust each other with the ball.”

The Illinois-bound Stibich, Nourse and Hosty are all prolific playmakers and scorers. Nourse has been scoring and assisting on goals at a steady rate. Blaze, who also starred in basketball during the winter, is a very good goalie with experience.

“Two reasons for our team’s success this season are team chemistry and work ethic,” Stibich said. “Being able to trust each player is extremely important, along with being able to put your all in. We don’t play for ourselves; we play for each other.”

Fenwick advanced to the championship game of the Windy City Ram Classic on March 25 at Toyota Park. Facing Stagg in the final, the teams battled to a scoreless draw. The Chargers earned the win by beating Fenwick 3-1 in penalty kicks during a shootout. Angelina Kosmas, Ally Mussallem and Maja Persa each converted a penalty kick for Stagg, while Shearer netted the Friars’ lone point.

In the semifinals, Fenwick cruised to a 3-1 victory over Lincoln-Way Central. Hosty opened the scoring on a breakaway goal via a lead pass from Ehrhardt just a few minutes into the game. Nourse tacked on a pair of goals to give the Friars a 3-0 lead at halftime. Blaze had six saves in goal.

In other games at the 32-team event, Fenwick pounded Providence 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Hosty, Nourse, Reardon, Fredian and Kapsch each scored a goal. Sophomore midfielder Alessia Mollo, Nourse and Kapsch added an assist apiece. The Friars also defeated Homewood-Flossmoor 1-0 and Shepard 9-0 in the opening two rounds of play.

“I was very pleased with how we played at the Windy City Classic,” Miller said. “I think we have really hit the ground running. In the past few years, we would get to the quarterfinals or semifinals but always fall short of making it to Toyota Park. Coming out strong and finally pushing through [to the final] my senior year was special.”

The Friars shook off their loss to Stagg by shutting out Mother McAuley 3-0 at the Priory on March 26. Stibich had a goal and an assist, while Nourse (goal), Hosty (goal) and Natalie Brennan (assist) also contributed. Blaze notched her fifth shutout this season.

Fenwick has been particularly tough to beat at home on their new turf field which debuted in 2017. The school’s soccer and lacrosse teams play on the field.

“I think a big factor for us was getting out of our gym and practicing on our new turf field, even with the snow we’ve gotten,” Nourse said. “The new turf field has allowed us to get to work right away.”

Fenwick shifts its attention to the PepsiCo Showdown next. The Friars will play four games over the first two weeks of April before returning to regular games. The tournament serves as one of the top showcases in the Chicago area and a valuable gauge for the Friars regarding their midseason form.

“For the rest of the season, I think we will be very competitive,” Nourse said. “I’m excited to see where we end up in the Chicago Catholic League and how far we’ll get in the state tournament.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...

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