NW suburbs girls soccer notes: Millstone sets tone for Palatine on, off the field
With her captain's armband in hand, Paige Millstone is the flagship of Palatine soccer under coach Aaron Morris.
"We get such an energy boost with Paige out on the field. She is the engine to this team, just a great teammate, and one that is willing to do whatever for her team, and has such a great relationship with our younger players," says Morris of his four-year veteran.
"Paige leads by example, and has such an amazing personality that draws people near her, and our team looks to her for her leadership."
"I know some players stay with their club teams all through high school, but I am so glad that I stayed to play for Palatine, and with my friends," says Millstone, who will play next fall at Drake University, where she will major in elementary education.
"Teaching and sports run in the family, so it's no surprise that I am drawn to education in my future," adds Millstone, whose grandfather Doug was the head basketball coach at Buffalo Grove, and father Eric is the same at Palatine.
Millstone, who honed her soccer skills at the Eclipse Soccer Club along with teammate Mia Ramirez and Barrington star Brooke Brown, would typically be stationed up top for her club team.
But for Morris, she runs the attack.
"Paige reads the game so well, always looking to put the opposition under pressure, and her ability to distribute, play balls in space, spacial awareness, and box-to-box tenacity for 80 minutes sets her apart from others," Morris says proudly.
Even while missing some time due to a shoulder injury, Millstone has recorded 9 goals and 6 assists on the season.
"I just love this sport, being with a great bunch of teammates and coaches. But I am also looking forward to playing at Drake next season, a place I instantly knew was the right college for me," said Millstone.
Morris added senior Angelina Lopez is the glue that keeps his back line together.
"Angelina is relentless, athletic and physical on the field, and such a team player, who like Paige, leads by example, and it has been a pleasure to watch her game grow each time we go out," says Morris.
Lopez will major in elementary education at Illinois State University in the fall, and is one of six other Pirates who intern in the preschool program at the school.
Antioch's Pluciennik picks field hockey:
Count Antioch senior Cameron Pluciennik as yet another high profile player and two-sport star who stayed around to play high school soccer for the Sequoits.
"Club soccer is fun, and the level of play is very high, but the experience of playing high school soccer -- being with my friends and classmates -- is something that I've loved so much. (It's) been such a great time," says Pluciennik, who developed a passion for field hockey and will go on to play that sport in college next fall at Central Michigan University.
"I came into field hockey two years ago here at Antioch. And although soccer had became such a huge part of my life, I quickly found the new sport in my life was one that I wanted to continue to play on a collegiate level," added Pluciennik, who makes the 45-minute drive to Northbrook to train with her Windy City Field Hockey club.
"Central Michigan reached out to me, and on my visit (there) I found an instant connection to my future teammates, staff and the campus, which was awesome, so it was an easy decision for me to make."
Pluciennik is the perfect screen in front of her defenders, and the Sequoits' terrific junior keeper Maddie Barrett -- giving quality, consistency, excellent passing range and a superb tactical understanding as the Sequoits' deep lying defensive midfielder for coach Maddie Lyons.
"Cameron is such a great all-around player. Her technical ability and speed make her nearly unstoppable in the middle of the park. And, for me, I will be sad to see her leave us at the end of the school year," says Lyons.
"We've had some tough losses of late, but our overall record is not a true indicator of how the team competes. We have a great keeper in Maddie Barrett, two center-backs in Allie Curry and Kaitlin Baylen, who have saved us so many times, and Vera Fogel, who is our top attacking player. So there's plenty of talent on our roster," says Pluciennik, who played her club soccer with Libertyville 08 FC '74 Elite, along with Paige Hogberg (Warren) and the Libertyville duo of Erin Kelly and Molly Koch.
The Sequoits are 3-2-0 in the Northern Lake County Conference, good for third behind league leaders Grayslake Central and Lakes.
Mundelein making noise:
This will be a big week of soccer for Seong Ha and his club from Mundelein, which is flying high with a 11-3-0 overall record, and 1-0-0 in North Suburban Conference (NSC) play in advance of games with league rivals Stevenson and Warren.
"The girls have believed strongly in our season's theme of 'We Over Me' instituted by my outstanding assistants Payton Berg and Alix McArthur. And with each training session and game, we've become a stronger family," says Ha, who in his first year in charge a year ago led the Mustangs to a 12-13-0 record after coming over from Glenbrook South, where from 2012 to 2018, he recorded a sparkling 84-18-11 coaching record.
"The growth and mindset of these 20 players has been outstanding to watch from afar as we've overcome several injuries with others stepping in to make key contributions," continued Ha. "The resiliency of this squad has paid dividends in showing that they believe and care for one another."
Sam Biesterfeld and Grace Cordova are the leading scorers for the Mustangs, with Ha naming seniors Phoebe Almora, Lauren Coup, Gladdie Greenfield and Cordova among his top players this season, in addition to junior keeper Abby Rounds.
Senior Samantha Nevergall will attend Stanford University in the fall, and has inspired the Mustangs as a team to have earned a combined 3.71 GPA and a Team Academic Award from the United Soccer Coaches Association.