After suffering through one of the toughest winters on record in the Chicago area, the girls soccer teams from Fremd and St. Charles East seemed somewhat satisfied just to be back outside playing Tuesday night in Palatine.
While the nonconference teams played to a 0-0 standoff, both sides found many positives along the way.
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"I'm so happy to be back," said Saints senior midfielder Amanda Hilton, who missed the second half of the basketball season with a fractured kneecap. "I thought we played well out there and I thought we played together."
"We've been out here about three or four times before this but two of the times it (artificial surface) was covered with snow," said Fremd coach Steve Keller. "This is the second time we've been able to be out here with a full field to work with."
Fremd, which has recorded 3 top-4 state finishes over the past 7 seasons, got off the game's first shot attempt just 4 minutes into the action -- a low angle shot from junior Katie Zara that was turned aside by Saints junior goalkeeper Kendra Sheehan (5 saves).
About a minute later, the Saints countered with a rush of their own as junior forward Darcy Cunningham's left-footed blast from 20 yards out caromed off the far post before Vikings keeper Surina Lewandowski (4 saves) cleared the ball away.
"When they countered and started attacking, we slowed them down and gained back possession really well," said the Nebraska-bound Hilton.
The Vikings' best scoring threat came near the midway point of the first half when Liz Flavin fed a hard-charging Mary-Kate Schiffer.
However, Sheehan was able to get her right foot on the breakaway attempt to keep the game scoreless.
"I thought we produced some opportunities," said Keller. "I thought our forwards did a decent job. We've just got to capitalize on some of those."
Led by Sara Buetow, Sophie Jendrzeczyk, Anna Corirosi, Cunningham and Hilton, the Saints controlled much of the second-half action to their coach's delight.
"We had great possession," said Saints coach Paul Jennison. "We had some good chances and they did, too.
"In general, I thought it was a good game," added Jennison, whose team had not practiced outdoors prior to the season opener due to snow cover and frigid temperatures. "I was over the moon considering it was our first game of the season. Considering many of these girls haven't played together before, I thought they linked up very well.
"Defensively, there's one or two things that we can touch up but considering we were playing one of the top teams in the state like Fremd, you've got to be happy with the performance there."
Keller also appeared pleased with his team's overall performance.
"They had the better of the play in the second half but we stood our ground," said Keller. "Each team had some quality opportunities. I think 0-0 was a good result."