Because of her soccer talent, St. Viator senior Maria Petrillo had opportunities to go to some top universities in Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Michigan.
With the help of Sockers FC Chicago college counselor, Albert Martin, Petrillo was able to narrow down her choices.
"He got me to focus on the most important factors in selecting a school based on education and what I wanted in a soccer program," she said.
Petrillo got her list down to three schools, and the winner happened to be right in her own backyard.
The Lions' defender plans to play her collegiate years for DePaul University.
"The school will offer me a great education and the soccer program is a strong competitor in the Big East Conference," she said. "I'm looking forward to representing DePaul and Chicago on the national stage. So to have this opportunity is one of the greatest achievements for me and a dream come true."
That dream began years ago.
She is one of seven children in a family that soccer plays a big role.
"Almost every weekend someone in my family was playing or traveling to play soccer," Maria said. "My dad (Tony) played soccer for most of his life and also played football.
"I remember when I was young that he coached soccer so I began playing at a very young age."
Petrillo has been a part of Sockers FC Chicago club for 12 years and with her skills continually progressing, she started getting attention from college programs.
At DePaul, Petrillo is looking forward to playing with Jessie Schmidt, one of her best friends and a Sockers teammate.
She plans to major in special education and hopes to teach in the Chicago area after she graduates.
"While it is close to home, Chicago is so big that when I visited the school, I felt I was far away," she said. "When I got to DePaul, I immediately fell in love with the school.
"The entire environment of the school and being on campus just clicked. It felt like home to me. I instantly fell in love with the girls on the team and the coaches. I felt a strong connection."
Petrillo's favorite part of soccer is connecting with her teammates.
"I love to compete as a member of a team which comes together for a common cause and common goal," she said. "My favorite part of the game is the relationships that you build with your teammates. You work, play and relax with your teammates, they become your family.
"I've been very lucky to be surrounded by good people. There have been several people who have inspired me throughout my years playing soccer."
Of course, her parents Tony and Sally have been vital to Maria's career.
"Without their support I would not be where I am today," she said. "My dad was always counseling me about work ethic on the field. He'd tell me that it is your responsibility to your team and coaches to give your best effort. If he felt I didn't give my best effort I heard about it -- a lot."
Petrillo spends a lot of valuable time off the field, too.
She has served as a volunteer for several not-for-profit groups since she was in eighth grade.
Her father works at Arlington Park, allowing Maria to spend a lot of time with a number of volunteer organizations that serve children on the backstretch.
Petrillo credits several coaches for her success.
"All of the coaches at Sockers have been more than supportive, such as Ahmed Gad, Oleg Vatchev and David Richardson," she said. "The entire staff always believed in me as both a player and as a person and made a huge impact on the type of person I am and player that I am today."
Petrillo couldn't be happier playing at St. Viator.
"It is one of the best decisions I have made," she said. "The entire staff of the team is made up of not only great coaches but great people. Mike Taylor, TJ King, and Bryan Dahlquist have been more than supportive to me. Every day at practice they pushed me and helped me develop as a player, as well as being a leader.
"The coaches treat and help their players like they were their own kids. It is one of the things that makes playing at St. Viator an amazing experience."
Last season, the Lions won a regional title after finishing second in the state in 2012.
"This season, I'm looking forward to representing my school as best as I can one last time," Petrillo added.
Augustana junior Emily Leazer (St. Viator) has returned to the lineup after being sidelined with a knee injury earlier in the season.
Leazer has now played in 11 games and has 16 kills (1.45 average) and she has a 3.82 dig-per-game average for the Vikings (9-4).
• Milliken's Sara Travis had 10 kills in a 3-0 loss to Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Wisconsin-Whitewater's Ryan Cortez (Palatine) was named the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference defensive athlete of the week.
Cortez anchored a defense that forced 6 turnovers and allowed just 8 first downs and less than 200 yards in Whitewater's 65-0 rout of Waldorf College.
Cortez took part in two turnovers that led to Whitewater points. He recovered a fumble in the first quarter that the offense turned into points to take a 17-0 lead and later returned an interception 17 yards to the Waldorf 13 that the offense converted into another score.
Cortez added 2 tackles in the game.
• Augustana sophomore quarterback Sam Frasco (Prospect) threw a pair of touchdown passes in the Vikings' 24-15 loss to 15th-ranked Wheaton. Frasco leads an Augustana offense that averages 330 total yards per game. The ground game averages 4.5 yards per carry and 212 yards a game.
Frasco has 195 yards and 2 touchdowns on 53 carries. He is 50-of-86 through the air for 472 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Fight Like A Champion Night
On Friday, Oct. 25, at the Schaumburg football game, it will be 'Fight Like A Champion Night' to honor former Saxons Eric Von Schaumburg and his fight against ALS. There will be raffles and prizes. T-shirts are available for $10. They can be ordered online and picked up outside the stadium on Oct. 25 at 4 p.m. All proceeds will go to Eric's battle. Donations may also be made on Eric's website at Fightlikeachampion.org.
Women's cross country
Junior Becca Sund (Palatine) was Augustana's top performer for the third time in five meets this year as the Vikings bested a 29-team field at Wisconsin Lutheran's Warrior Cross Country Invitational.
Sund covered the 6-kilometer Greenfield Park Course in 23:33.5 to take fifth place, her fourth top-ten finish of the season. Sund's effort helped the Vikings (76) get by second-place Lawrence (78) by 2 points.
Illinois State junior defender Gabbi McArtor of Palatine was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
McArtor has been a stronghold of ISU's defense, having played 42 straight games on the back line since her freshman season.
She most recently played 90 minutes and assisted Rachel Tejada's game-winning goal during Illinois State's 4-0 victory against IPFW last Friday. McArtor has logged 1,067 minutes this season.
• Clemson senior midfielder Vanessa Laxgang of Arlington Heights scored an 11th-minute goal and the Tigers settled for a 1-1 draw against No. 3 Florida State on Sunday. Laxgang leads Clemson with 5 goals and 12 points this season.
Guth to be honored
Matt Guth will be retiring as head athletic trainer at Prospect High School after 34 years. "He has been at nearly every football game and the majority of all varsity contests during those years," said Prospct associate principal Greg Minter. "His commitment and dedication to health and safety of Prospect athletes has been extraordinary."
Guth will be honored at the last home football game on Oct. 25. There will be a reception 6 p.m. in the Community Room, open to current and former coaches, athletes, colleagues, and friends.
Rolling Meadows boys feeder
Tryout for the Rolling Meadows Boys Basketball Feeder program will be Sunday, Oct, 13 at Rolling Meadows High School: 5th, 6th and 7th graders from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. 8th graders from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Mike Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prospect Junior Knights
The Prospect Junior Knights Boys Feeder Basketball tryouts will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20 at Prospect High School. The program is open to boys currently enrolled in 6th to 8th grade and living within the Prospect High School boundaries. For further information please visit the website: www.juniorknights.com.
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