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McHenry West grad Machometa makes instant impact

Molly Machometa anticipated her first college soccer season to be physically challenging. At 5-foot-5, the McHenry West graduate often finds herself looking up at opponents.

“The size of these girls … they’re all so tall,” Machometa said.

Despite not seeing eye-to-eye with defenders, the freshman forward at NAIA Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., has had opponents keeping an eye on her all season.

Machometa leads the nation with 26 goals, including six game winners, and 59 points for the V-Hawks (11-1). This week, she won a second consecutive Midwest Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Week award.

“I’m not surprised about the impact she’s had,” Viterbo coach Scott Pirnstill said. “We’ve worked with her on becoming more efficient with the chances she gets and not overthinking it.”

Machometa, who has 73 shots, has put 53 of those on goal.

“In high school, I always had problems with finishing,” she said. “I’ve tried to concentrate and focus on the shot I’m getting.”

Machometa, who also has seven assists, has relied on help from teammates in becoming one of the NAIA’s most productive players.

“I always ask for advice,” she said. “I’ll take all the advice I can get because most of these girls have played college soccer a lot longer than I have.”

Machometa has plenty of company from McHenry County schools at Viterbo.

The V-Hawks’ roster includes three Huntley players – sophomore forward Bre Burry, sophomore midfielder Julie Brownell and freshman defender Kelly Manczko – and one from Crystal Lake South, freshman forward Marcella Albuquerque.

“It’s a great place to find players,” Pirnstill said. “They’ve got some really strong club teams in the area.”

While recruiting Burry and other Huntley players during an indoor game, Pirnstill was intrigued by Machometa’s skill.

“I saw Molly and I thought, ‘I think we’ve got something here,’” Pirnstill said. “I saw her talking to one of the Huntley girls after the game, so I said, ‘Bre, I need that girl on the other team’s phone number.’”

This week, the MCC recognized Machometa for scoring three goals and adding two assists in two victories, including a 3-2 upset of then-No. 25 Ashford University.

As her goal and point totals climb, the speedy Machometa has had to deal with another physical challenge as opponents try to slow her down.

“I rely on my speed a lot,” she said. “I’ve never had girls pulling on my shirt all the time. That didn’t happen in high school.”

Saint Francis staff: Prairie Ridge grad Brian Van Acker is in his first season as an assistant football coach for NAIA Saint Francis University in Joliet.

As a college player at Northern Illinois, Van Acker was a two-time first-team All-Mid-American Conference center for the Huskies.

Saint Francis (4-2) is ranked No. 15 in the national poll and is in second place with a 2-0 record in the Mid-States Football Association’s Midwest League.

Standout Coyote: Marian Central grad Kim Bulaga posted a season-high 16 kills last weekend for D-I South Dakota’s volleyball team in a five-set loss to Kansas City.

Bulaga, a senior outside hitter, also added 17 digs for the Coyotes (7-10). She is averaging a team-best 2.72 digs per set. Her performance against Kansas City was the second double-double of Bulaga’s season.

Petty on a roll: Kelly Petty, a junior forward/midfielder at D-III Dominican University, leads the team this season with seven goals and 17 points.

Petty, a Marian Central grad, has helped the Stars (6-6) start the Northern Athletics Conference season 5-2, good for fourth place in the 13-team league.

Petty had her second two-goal game of the season Wednesday, when she scored twice in a 3-0 win against Concordia Chicago.

• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at, check out his On Campus blog at and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

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