Johnsburg senior Amanda Cherwin spent her previous three spring sports seasons playing softball. On Thursday afternoon, however, during team pictures at the school, she was opposite her former teammates in an open hallway and knelt in the middle row with the soccer team.
“Softball was getting a lot more tense and just not that much fun to be around anymore,” she said. “I wanted to try something new. Soccer is something I wanted to get out and try my senior year.”
Cherwin and teammate Amy Majercik, who also came over from the softball team, will play goalkeeper for the Skyhawks, who are coming off a deep state run last year that landed them in fourth place in Class 1A.
Cherwin had been running in her free time and working with her older brother Trevor, a former Johnsburg goalkeeper, in order to learn about the position and gain confidence as well as technique.
She and Majercik have already impressed teammates with their ability in the short amount of indoor practice time.
“I’m excited because the goalies that we have played softball and they’re really good,” midfielder Delaney Pruitt said. “And for their first time playing, it’s exciting how they have already stepped up like naturals even though it’s their first year.”
Cherwin and Majercik are just two of several new players that coach Rob Eastland expects to have a large impact on the team that hopes to be competitive in both the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division and in the state playoffs again.
Freshman Madelyn Peterson has impressed early and will likely start at midfield alongside Pruitt, last season’s Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Other key returning players includes midfielder Kortnee Hass who has electric speed and is one of the smartest players on the team.
Though last season’s success was exciting, Eastland has forbidden his team from talking about it this season in hopes his players will focus on the year ahead and not be complacent with the past success.
“You can’t carry it over to the next season,” Eastland said. “It’s the coach’s job of taking that pressure off, and the girls coming in don’t need that weight on their shoulders.”
“We never played to go to state in the first place. It’s about managing the season as good as it can be for everyone and when you go in the with that approach, whatever happens after is like a bonus.”
Johnsburg’s main competition in the Fox Division will come from a Crystal Lake Central team that was atop the division last season at 5-1. The Tigers have most of their core group of players returning who will be playing together for the third year and have enough scoring to compete with anyone.
Central’s defense, led by senior goalkeeper Caitlyn Dayton, also figures to be strong, and coach Jay Schwarzrock is expecting big things this season.
In the Valley Division, Huntley has the skill to be at the top of the division again. The Red Raiders went 5-1 in the Valley and placed second last year behind Prairie Ridge. McHenry also looks to make a run at the division title behind Avalon Senn-Raemont, a senior forward, and Alexis Morales, a senior midfielder. Both have committed to play in college.
Huntley has eight players on its roster that have already committed to play soccer in college including Delaney Loprieno who missed nearly all of last season with an injury. She was an all-conference and all-sectional team member in 2012 and is one of the top players in the area and will help an already very deep Raiders team.
Richmond-Burton, which won the Big Northern Conference last season after going 11-0-1, lost top goal-scorer Amanda Hoglund, who will play club this season after commiting to Baylor.
The Rockets still return several key pieces and have the talent to compete for another title with a strong offense.