Girls soccer notes: Downers Grove North playing fun name game

It takes grandfathey skills to remember the names of everyone on your team, so it makes a lot of sense that a papa named Brian has the task of remembering who's who at Downers Grove North with a Kailyn, Karlyn, Kate, Kaitlyn, Katelyn and Katharine as well as a Callie and a Caroline.

"The girls laugh when I call out a name," Downers Grove North coach Brian Papa said. "It's funny when I'm barking out names, but they tend to understand what the situation is and who I'm calling for."

Papa has seen a lot of unique things in his 40-plus years of coaching, but never quite a challenging who's who name game like this one.

(Kaitlyn) Parker is on the front line and (Katelyn) Hennelly we've moved her back to see what happens, but she knows when I'm calling," he said. "When I call Kailyn (Ziroli) it's 'Kailyn Z.' I use little nicknames they kind of know. It's a unique situation and my bark is bigger than my bite. And I've got a gym voice so I've got to be loud so it sounds like I'm yelling but they just need to listen to the words."

Kailyn (Ziroli), Karlyn (Harkness), Kate (Goray), Kaitlyn (Parker), Katelyn (Hennelly), Katharine (Sanchez), Callie (Fletcher) and Caroline (Siebert) and the rest of the Trojans will take a 1-1-2 mark into spring break.

The Trojans, who have been inspired by the boys basketball team's state run, will begin conference play on April 4 when Lyons Twp. visits.

"We want to get serious and have fun," Papa said. "This is a game, a high school experience. The boys basketball team had a great run and we made sure the girls were able to go to the supersectional game and then go downstate which meant two more days off. Some of the girls have plans during spring break, but for the others we'll be practicing, and so far we've had good practices."

New bosses in town:

Several new faces are leading programs this spring.

Elgin Academy's Drew Roling, Glenbard East's Anthena Toliopoulos, Lake Park's Caroline Kilrea and Streamwood's David Criswell are just some of the newcomers.

The Lancers (3-3) have already equaled last year's number of wins with Kilrea beginning her first varsity coaching stint after serving as a JV coach last year.

"It's been surreal so far, especially taking over the program from Sean Crosby who had been here for many years," she said. "I'm excited for the rest of the season."

Kilrea starred at Lincoln-Way East, playing for three years for coach Brian Papa. Her father, Dr. Tim Kilrea, helped start the soccer program at what is now Lincoln-Way Central.

"I have always wanted to coach," she said. "Being around my dad as an educator who started the soccer program and seeing his interactions, I knew I wanted to be an educator and that I never wanted to leave the game. Seeing my Dad coach and having some great coaches, I knew I definitely wanted this career path."

So far she's been pleased with her team's fight and their willingness to learn from their mistakes.

"We've had some tough losses, but I see a lot of perseverance and I've been very proud with how they've taken those losses and improved," she said. "We've seen some great things, like their unity and work ethic, and they want to improve. They want to do well, and not just for them, but for their coaches and team."

Criswell picked up his first victory in a season opening 1-0 win over Dundee-Crown. The Sabres (2-1-1) also beat Larkin, tied Bartlett and dropped a 3-1 game to Jacobs.

Before relocating to the Chicago area, Criswell had been the heads boys and girls soccer coach at Dawson School in Lafayette, Colo.

"I love the game and I immensely love coaching as well," he said. "I reached out to several programs to get involved. Last spring I helped with JV at Hampshire and in the fall I was the varsity assistant for boys at South Elgin and then this program opened up looking for another head coach to jump in and I ended up at Streamwood."

Seniors Selina Chavez, Dayanara Huerta, Daniela Martinez and Jessica Rosales are among a group of returnees that helped Criswell transition into his role at a new school.

"I was fortunate to come into a program with a really strong group of returning seniors," he said. "There's an element of consistency and it's a great group of kids who are talented and good people."

Battling Bartlett to a scoreless tie on March 15 provided a nice early boost for the Sabres.

"Bartlett hasn't lost a conference game since 2019 so to get a draw was a big confidence boost," he said. "And we hadn't scored a lot and then (in 5-1 win over Larkin on March 22) we had a lot come together and got a nice win in that one and had some good momentum."

Jerzy Skowon has stepped in as head coach this spring at South Elgin with Laura Snow on maternity leave while Naperville Central's Troy Adams and Neuqua Valley's Arnoldo Gonzalez are pulling dual duty as head coaches of both the boys and girls teams.

The fifth arrived:

After a four-goal loss to Waubonsie Valley in the opener followed by a scoreless draw against South Elgin, West Chicago coach J. Cesar Gomez stressed patience and talked about the fifth.

"We have a great group of kids who are learning fast, but we are asking them to produce and in the second game it's not feasible," he said. "But by the fifth game we will be fine."

That fifth game of the season proved to be a 3-0 win over DeKalb on March 23 and was the third game in a four-game winning streak that has seen the Wildcats also blank Rockford East (7-0), West Aurora (1-0) and Glenbard North (4-0) and lift their record to 4-1-1.

It appears Gomez nailed it.

Augusburg-Drach Invitational All-Tournament Team:

While the weather led to the cancellation of this year's championship game, which would've paired St. Charles East and St. Charles North, it didn't wipe away the selection of an all-tournament team.

Local notables who were recognized included Bartlett goalkeeper Megan Kron, Burlington Central goalkeeper Mackenzie Larkowski and midfielder Eva Samuelian, St. Charles East defender Mackenzie Loomis and forwards Mia Raschke and Grace Williams and St. Charles North goalkeeper Kara Claussner, midfielder Bella Najera and forward Laney Stark.

The Saints and North Stars will square off in a DuKane Conference game as part of Tri-Cities Night at Batavia on May 2.

Last season the North Stars defeated the Saints in this tournament and in conference play before the Saints ended their season in a sectional final.

Hot and quick starts:

The weather may not be so hot, but that's got nothing on these players who are off to sizzling starts.

Addison Trail freshman Brianna Gutierrez (4 assists), Benet's Anna Casmere (4 goals, 4 assists) and Ivana Vukas (scored goals in three different games), Geneva's Morgan Rudowicz (2 goals, 2 assists), Kaneland's Brigid Gannon (3 goals, 2 assists) and Emily Kunzer (4 goals), Metea Valley's Jordan Lange (5 goals, 2 assists), Naperville Central's Megan Norkett (2 hat tricks, 7 goals), St. Charles East's Grace Williams (4 goals), St. Charles North's Bella Najera (5 goals), Timothy Christian's Madison Drye (6 goals), Waubonsie Valley's Taylor Ahmadian (6 goals, 3 assists) and Thanya Castelan (6 goals) and Wheaton Warrenville South's Kate Hartnett (2 goals) and Ashley Adams (2 goals).

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.