Benet senior forward Mariana Pinto flashed an ear-to-ear smile after Saturday’s road win over Oak Park-River Forest.
Pinto capped a week to cherish with two goals in a spirited and physical 2-1 victory over the Huskies. Pinto opened the week with four goals and an assist to spark the Redwings to a 7-2 rout over Nazareth in East Suburban Catholic Conference play. Three days later, Pinto officially signed her letter of intent to play soccer at Lewis University. She committed to Lewis in January.
“It’s all come full circle and this week has been amazing,” Pinto said. “Each of these games have been tough wins for us, not easy games at all. I’m really happy it’s all going really well for us. We hope to keep it up and are working really hard.”
As the heir apparent to the graduated Jaimee Cibulka, Pinto has thrived in the leadership and go-to role for the highly ranked Redwings in her second season on the varsity. Pinto leads the Redwings (8-2) with 12 goals. Her scoring has sparked Benet to a six-game winning streak. The Redwings’ offense has been firing on all cylinders, scoring 19 goals in their last three games.
“It’s the same mentality every game, and it’s my job to score goals for the team and I’m going to do it any possible way,” Pinto said. “Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of goals outside the box, which is new for me. It’s working out, so I’m going to go with it.”
Benet goalie Shannon Clark is another key factor. The junior is playing solid in the net, building off a successful sophomore season. She’s recorded 41 saves and five shutouts this spring.
Clark said she’s just hitting her stride in the net, playing with an aggressive mindset.
“I feel at the beginning of the season I was a bit more timid than I normally at, but I feel I’m back in it and back to being my aggressive self,” Clark said.
Sawyer White leading Montini
Montini senior Sawyer White is wrapping up a memorable career this spring. White, who plans to play basketball and soccer for Illinois Wesleyan next season, has led the Broncos to four wins in their first seven matches.
A midfielder and captain, White made a smooth transition from the basketball court to the pitch, according to Montini soccer coach Kathryn Perry.
“Sawyer is truly the quarterback of the team,” Perry said. “She controls the middle of the field and truly dictates the game for us. She is technically gifted and makes others around her better with her play. She has continued to get better every game and is finding a rhythm now at the midpoint of the season. Sawyer is a true athlete and can excel anywhere on the field for us. She may not always end up on the stat sheet but she is always a main contributor in every frame.”
The Broncos, who were riding a three-game winning streak, are hoping a healthy Maren Hoovel boosts the offense. The junior forward scored 20 goals and was named the conference player of the year last season. She’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered in the final regular-season game last year.
“She has been such a success story for us here at Montini,” Perry said. “Maren put in so much work to come back stronger than before. After missing the first few games of the season, then taking a few games to get back in a groove, she is hitting her stride scoring seven goals in three games. She’s lethal and an extremely clean finisher. Her speed is tough for opponents’ backlines to match and she plays 110% every time she steps on the field. She’s getting better and better each game and if she keeps this up she could match or surpass her stats from 2021 in less games than last year.”
Defenders Anna Carrigan and Riley White have solidified the backline for the Broncos, who have given up three goals in their winning streak. The Broncos also notched a comeback win over St. Laurence, which defeated them twice last season.
“Anna is the heartbeat of the program,” Perry said. “She’s a team first kid, natural leader and gifted athlete. Her pairing with Riley at centerback has been difficult to break down. She’s having an incredible senior season and has played with great maturity. Anna is a great one-on-one defender and very physical.
“Riley plays with so much maturity. In my opinion, she’s the best defender in our league. She has such a calming presence in the back and is great in the possession. Riley has such a natural instinct and incredible soccer IQ. She has really grown into a leadership role in the back and keeps everything organized. People look to her when things aren’t going right. Riley’s ceiling is incredibly high so it’s exciting she’s only a sophomore.”
Glenbard South looking to make a run in conference
Glenbard South (5-3-1, 3-1 Upstate Eight) has picked up a fan this spring – coach Kevin Berner.
Berner said he’s enjoying watching his team play in all aspects of the game.
“We’re a fun attack to watch when we have it clicking,” Berner said. “We have all three of our defenders from last year back and this allows us to really focus on the attack and moving the ball forward quickly.”
The Raiders have filled their schedule with tough opponents, including numerous Class 3A schools, to prepare for a push in the 2A playoffs. Berner said the Raiders have relied on a collective unit to raise expectations this spring.
“Junior Abigail Bergmann is our standout centerback,” Berner said. “Seniors Ellie Anderson, Paige Kennedy and captain Madeline Sebahar bring their experience to the midfield, which gives the back of attack stability. Sofia Alcala is a solid sophomore goalkeeper. Anika Wise has been a pleasant addition as a freshman and is leading the team in goals scored. Junior Emma Seaman has been a rock-solid stopper ahead of the defensive line, and sophomore Lauren Price has proven to be a handful for the opponents’ defense.”