Expectations are high for the Wheaton College women's soccer team.
Last year's team made it to the national semifinals. This year the women started the year ranked No. 3 in the nation and are now No. 1. However, the players have yet to live up to the standards they hold for themselves, coach Pete Felske said.
Even with his team undefeated, Felske doesn't believe that it has played as well as it can and should be playing. The biggest concern for Felske comes in replacing the team leadership from last year. Felske said he is looking for more vocal leadership from the middle of the field.
"We are nice kids but confrontation is not our strength and sometimes confrontation is a good thing," Felske said.
While Felske works to help the Thunder correct what he calls "silly mistakes," it has started the season 8-0 and knocked off both the No. 4 and No. 14 teams in the country. Saturday Wheaton went on the road for a rematch of last year's quarterfinal matchup against Washington University and won 1-0 after an overtime goal from Leah DeMoss (St. Charles North). Tuesday the Thunder came home and dominated Loras College 4-1.
As evidence that Felske's attitude is getting through to his team, he and DeMoss had a conversation on how the All-America can improve her game this year. Felske said defenses are throwing everything they can at the senior forward and she is working on ways to get back her explosiveness from last year. This could cause problems for opposing defenses because DeMoss already has 3 goals, 3 assists and was named the CCIW player of the week after her game-winning goal.
"I think Leah is not living up to Leah's standards," Felske said. "By anyone else she's playing all right. I think she has gained confidence in the last couple games, I have seen improvement."
After beating Loras at home on Tuesday 4-1, the Thunder goes on the road to play Carroll University on Saturday. It will open CCIW play at home against Carthage on Oct. 2.
In the first week of college football polls, the Cardinals have opened at No. 4 in both the coaches poll and the D3football.com poll. North Central has been led by its offense, which has scored 41 points in each of the first two games, including avenging the 2012 opening-game loss to University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
The offensive explosion has had much to do with the performance of quarterback Spencer Stanek. The senior has won back-to-back CCIW offensive player of the week honors. That distinction makes him one of only four players in the last half-decade to win two consecutive player of the week awards.
Stanek is 50-of-61 passing with 608 yards and 5 touchdowns through the air this year. He is also leading the team with 156 yards rushing and 3 TDs.