Girls soccer notes: Benet starting to hit its stride with five straight wins

Redwings have allowed five goals this season; Hinsdale Central’s Cate McDonnell hits milestone

Benet’s Johnna Caliendo kicks the ball during a 2023 Class 2A girls state soccer semifinal against Crystal Lake Central at North Central College in Naperville.

Benet doesn’t give you much to work with on the pitch.

After routing Marian Catholic in its season opener, tying Glenbard West in its second game and then falling short in tough matches against Metea Valley and Wheaton North, Benet has won seven straight.

“We’re starting to hit our stride a little bit,” Redwings coach Gerard Oconer said. “It’s taken a little while for players to understand their roles and how they fit into our style of play and we had to replace a very talented senior class and other key players we also lost from last year. We’re starting to come together.”

The Redwings (8-2-1) have surrendered only six goals through 11 matches and Wheaton North was the only team to score two goals against them.

“It starts with the midfield and we have dominated the midfield in pretty much all of our games,” Oconer said. “I think we have done a really good job of being patient with defending and not recklessly going into tackles but staying disciplined in the back.”

Senior Rania Fikri, sophomore Annie Fitzgerald and freshman Megan Bergman are working extremely well in seizing control of games in the midfield, Oconer said.

“With how technically gifted Rania and Annie are they are able to help keep possession and Megan cleans all the mess behind them and protects the ball,” Oconer said. “And the back line has been really solid and limiting opportunities teams that get through the midfield have.”

Seniors Bailey Abbott and Gabby Hedden and juniors Meghan Sarros and Chloe Sentman have been a formidable presence in the back.

While a stingy defense can win without much offense, the Redwings are producing plenty of goals with four of their wins during the winning streak being by more than a single-goal difference. The Redwings have scored 37 goals in 11 matches and 12 players had scored in the first nine matches.

Juniors Johnna Caliendo (six goals, four assists) and Natalie Grove (five goals) were the team’s leading scorers in the first nine matches while junior Eleanor Mahon (four goals, three assists) and sophomores Ivana Lukas (four goals, four assists) and Fitzgerald (four goals, three assists) were right there with them showcasing the team’s wealth of talent.

“I think one of the things we pride ourselves in is the depth of our team,” Oconer said. “We don’t have necessarily a dominant scorer so it has to be by committee. Players have stepped up and it makes us a challenge for other teams because they can’t lock in on one player because the attack comes from different players on the field.”

McDonnell reaches milestone

Hinsdale Central senior Cate McDonnell scored her 10th goal of the season during a 3-2 loss to Geneva in the Plainfield Classic semifinal April 12.

McDonnell became one of only 16 players to have scored 10 goals in a season at Hinsdale Central since 1985.

While McDonnell and the Red Devils fell short against the Vikings, they are coming off a couple of strong weeks and are 11-2, getting recent victories against Andrew, East Aurora, Oswego, Oak Park-River Forest, Neuqua Valley and Sandburg.

“Our two losses so far have been great lessons for us in that our girls have taken it upon themselves to learn something from them,” Red Devils coach Tony Madonia said. “We build this tough schedule so that we learn certain lessons before playoffs. While we know your record can impact your rankings, our girls are committed to the fact that we are building for a playoff run. The ladies’ resiliency and perseverance have been impressive and fun to watch.”

Everyone is contributing this spring for the Red Devils and it’s showing on the stat sheet. Twelve of the team’s 20 players have multiple points and half of the team’s field players have eight or more points.

Area selections named to Plainfield Classic All-Tournament Team

Hinsdale Central: Piper Bingham, Caitlin Doherty, Claire Snodgrass; Downers Grove North: Lexi Keown, Addison Liszka, Campbell Thulin; Glenbard East: Maya Reinheimer; Glenbard West: Ava Callaway, Lauren Escalante;, Morton: Carisma Rosales


Glenbard West (5-6-2) hasn’t allowed any goals in any of its wins. The Hilltoppers haven’t scored a goal in any of their losses. After opening the season 0-5-1 in their first six games, the Hilltoppers won four straight, blanking Morton, Proviso West, Bartlett and Andrew.

Lemont (10-3) had back-to-back shutouts over West Aurora and Glenbard South and has won eight of its last nine games. Lemont finished 2-1 in Lockport’s Porter Cup with its loss coming against Wheaton North.

Westmont (3-11) enjoyed a nice little run after losing all but one of its first nine game. The Sentinels recently beat Mather 4-0 and Bulls College Prep 9-0.

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a contributor to Shaw Local