Girls soccer: Gwiasda carries on Barrington's rich tradition
MSL power Barrington has been home to a string of impressive midfield players, most recently Jen Devona, Michayla Herr and Sophia Spinell, all of which earned all-state honors before going on to play at D-I programs.
Nicole Gwiasda will attend Ohio State next fall, not to play, but instead to study accounting, with an eye perhaps on law school later on.
However, the Fillies senior, who is the ultimate team leader, extraordinary box-to-box, 80-minute warrior with a soccer IQ off the charts, has proved to be every bit as good in her own right. She helped lead the Fillies to a record 11th consecutive MSL title and Class 3A state runner-up finish last weekend.
All of this makes Ryan Stengren's top player the easy choice to be Captain of the Daily Herald Cook County 2022 Girls Soccer All-Area Team.
"I pay close attention to every detail, whether in training or in preparation for each game. So that makes me kind of an intense person, so it's nice to have a player like (Nicole) who is the same way. It's like having another coach out there all of the time," said Stengren.
"Nicole has improved in every area of her play from a year ago. But it's her leadership that has impressed (me) just as much as her technical and tactical improvements that have turned her into an amazing player, and leader," continued Stengren.
"It is quite an honor to be named captain of the All-Area Team. But to be honest, this is really a team award, because it's my teammates who have helped me reach my potential as a player and person," said Gwiasda,
The gold standard for area midfielders -- chances are if you're an opponent of Barrington, you'll be running into Gwiasda in the middle of the park. That's where the diminutive two-year star will either disrupt, tackle, challenge, win aerial or on the floor duels with her remarkable elite positioning.
This ability to do the above was further highlighted last weekend during the state tournament. In two games, she won an astounding 31 head balls and 35 tackle challenges.
"Coach Stengren has made me a better person and player while here at Barrington. He is so good at making everyone on this team feel like they belong. (We're) one big family because of him, and it shows when we train or compete. He has been a tremendous influence on myself, and I'll always remember that," said Gwiasda.
Among several other non-soccer activities, Gwiasda was a member of Service Overseas and the Big Red Spirit Clubs, as well as National Honor Society. She shared MSL West Player of the Year honors with junior Brooke Brown, an award she said means so much to her because it's with her teammate who has already committed to play at Cornell University in the fall of 2023.
"There's so much that I will take from being a part of Barrington Fillies soccer," Gwiasda said. "It's something that I am very proud to be a part of, and I will never forget these four years, my friends on the team, and, of course, coach Stengren."