HINCKLEY – Most schools had to wait close to two years between girls soccer matches, but for Ashleigh Wackerlin and Hinckley-Big Rock that wait was even longer due to COVID-19 quarantine issues.
But Hinckley-Big Rock made the most of its debut Tuesday, with Wacklerin scoring five goals as the Royals topped Indian Creek, 7-0.
“Soccer has always been my sport, so it felt amazing,” said Wackerlin, who also plays basketball for the Royals. “We knew we couldn’t take this for granted. It was taken away from us last year, so we went out there and gave it our all.”
Coach Melissa Jennings said the Royals, who co-op in soccer with Somonauk, had issues with both opponents quarantining and quarantine with Somonauk students. The season could have started in mid-March but the Royals didn’t start until Tuesday.
After both teams were testing each other, Wackerlin and the Royals (1-0) finally broke through against the Timberwolves (2-3). Wackerlin beat IC goalie Molly Feitlich 1-on-1 in the 18th minute on a feed from Morgan King.
“For our first game I think we played phenomenal,” Jennings said. “We’ve had a lot of setbacks with games getting canceled and stuff. It was nice to be able to be out here on a nice day and get the girls a win.”
Wacklerin scored the next three goals in the match, then Abby Neidigh scored in the 52nd minute to pad the lead at 5-0.
After three assists, King finally connected on a goal of her own in the 65th minute. Less than a minute later, Wackelrin capped her day with a fifth goal and a 7-0 lead.
Wackerlin said the chemistry on the team hasn’t missed a beat during the two-year layoff.
“When you’re friends off the field, you’re friends on the field,” Wackerlin said. “You have a connection, and they can all read me, and I can read them. Morgan and I are best friends, so that’ll do it.”
Jennings said it’s not just King and Wackerlin. Freshman Josie Rader has fit in well at center midfield.
“They’re like besties,” said Jennings in a falsetto with a laugh about King and Wackerlin. “Obviously, being friends help, and Josie Rader, the freshman from Somonauk, those three have worked well together. She’s been a nice surprise addition.”
Indian Creek had a shot in front of the goal early in its best chance to score but a header by Kylee Bauer was off target.
“They were definitely physical off the ball,” McClure said. “They were definitely physical toward the ball. They did a nice job defensively as well. We needed to move the ball up the wings more and cross the ball in more to get better quality shots.”