The Fenwick High School girls soccer team has new leadership this spring as Craig Blazer takes over for Rob Watson. Blazer, who also coaches the boys team, has the same approach for both programs.
“Knowing your audience is important as well as the presentation, but the fundamentals are the same,” he said of the difference between coaching boys and girls.
Last year, the Friars were aiming to build off a successful 2019 season, one that culminated in a 4-0 loss to eventual state champion Benet Academy in an IHSA Class 2A supersectional. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas, and the season was canceled.
“Missing last season was very unfortunate, but now we have the opportunity to make up for it,” said senior Emi Kapusta, a DePauw University recruit. “I’m truly grateful to Fenwick for giving us the chance to play.”
This year, Fenwick will look to reload around four experienced players, including Kapusta, Anna Dray, Julianna Giuffre and Grace McCann. According to Blazer, the skilled quartet will be heavily counted on given everyone is starting over essentially with no season last year.
Although the coaches’ systems are different, Kapusta feels that the transition from Watson to Blazer has been smooth.
“I can’t wait to have the chance to work with coach Blazer, and the rest of the staff,” she said. “They’ve already displayed within this short period of knowing them how much dedication they have to offer to the program.”
Having just concluded the boys season, Blazer and his assistants have been gradually incorporating elements of his system, and it may take some time for the Friars to completely adapt to it, especially with many new players around.
“We are improving every session in developing our possession, transition and defending,” Blazer said. “We still need time on defensive and offensive restarts. It’s a process, but we are getting there.”
Fenwick will look to remain competitive in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference, where Loyola and St. Ignatius return very strong teams and have had recent success. Yet, Blazer also wants his players to look forward to improving every day, be good teammates, and enjoy being on the team.
“The girls have brought a lot of maturity and leadership to every session and done a good job overall with looking forward to trainings and games,” he said.
In addition, Kapusta would like to see the Friars ultimately work as one cohesive unit.
“We have many new players joining the varsity this season, so we want to welcome them with open arms and show these girls how to support each and every teammate,” she said. “I believe all of us wish to make the best out of our season this year due to the loss of our last one.”
Fenwick opens the season April 24 versus Nazareth Academy at the Dominican Priory in River Forest, with match time set for noon.