Girls soccer has strong kick-off; pushes through injury

Ellen Walter, Assistant Copy Editor

At every varsity girls soccer game this season, the announcer reads out the line-up of the opposing team, the title ‘senior’ proceeding nearly every name, with a few ‘junior’s and the occasional ‘sophomore.’ As Elk Grove’s lineup is announced, however, more than half of the players are freshmen, with only two seniors on the team’s current roster. The youth of the team is not its challenge, though. Already this season, the girls have experienced a myriad of injuries. Freshman Zoe Blomquist is still recovering from an ankle injury she received playing for EGHS’ basketball team, and Amanda Sitkowski, also a freshman, tore her ACL in the second game of the season.

“A lot has changed because of injury, but regardless… I want us to be as good as we can this year, but we also have an eye on developing players, so I just want everyone to improve and get better. We still think we can compete, but it’s going to be a little harder now,” coach Dan Klaus said.

As for the two injured girls, they’re far from passive benchwarmers. They attend practices, games, and any team outings. As hard as it is for them mentally not to be playing, they’re still a valuable part of the team.

“Personally, it has been pretty hard for me watching from the sidelines, but I enjoy getting the opportunity to watch and help my team grow throughout the season,” Sitkowski said. Blomquist is in a very similar position.

“It’s been difficult mentally, sitting on the bench is tough but it’s important to stay positive for the team and continue to learn from the sidelines. I can’t wait until Amanda and I are back next year.”

Their teammates are looking forward to their return as well.

But while the team has lost two players, it still charges on, with two victories already over Dundee Crown and Wheeling. In the Wheeling game, freshmen Emma Slattery and Kelly Walter served as captains. Due to the unusual makeup of the team, Klaus has been relying on the team as a whole to step up.

“We only have two seniors right now, we have a group of five juniors that have all been on varsity since their freshmen year, so I’m hoping they’ll step up. But at the same time there are some freshmen that are capable as well, so it’s yet to reveal itself,” said Klaus.

Slattery plays center defense and Walter plays center or attacking midfield. Both girls have been playing soccer since they were children, both play for club teams outside of school, and both are excited to be playing with friends in a challenging environment.

“My favorite thing about playing on this team is to be playing with my sister and my friends from soccer before high school and others like Kelly and Jacky,” Slattery said.

Similarly, Walter said, “We laugh a lot. Being able to play with them is really fun.”

Klaus is eager to be developing players on his young team, balancing young talent and mature physicality and leadership.

“We are competitive, and hard-working, and I think we have great attitudes as a team. I think the team gets along fairly well, and I think that they’re a pretty tough group of people.”