In mid-February, Morton junior midfielder Carisma Rosales locked down her college choice.
The highly talented Rosales committed to Marquette over a host of other schools.
Now, two weeks into the season, Rosales is looking to add to her legacy by leading the Mustangs to another Class 3A regional title and beyond.
Rosales scored 25 goals to go with 20 assists last season to lead the Mustangs to their first regional title since 2012.
“Over the past year, I’ve grown as a player, a person and a teammate,” Rosales said. “I feel I’m not at my full capacity yet and still have a lot to learn. I’m hoping to become a better version of myself, on and off the field, to motivate other young players that anything is possible.”
Rosales said she’s motivated to become a leader in her upperclassmen years, especially after finalizing her college choice so early in her career.
“I committed to Marquette because it felt like home and a place that will allow me to grow as a person and attain a well-rounded education,” Rosales said. “Marquette has a long history of excellence in women’s athletics. It has always been a dream to go Division I for me. I’m glad to say I’ve accomplished that dream.”
Morton coach Jim Bageanis said Rosales is adapting to a bigger role on the team this spring.
“She’s a very dynamic player and can play anywhere on the field and do anything offensively we need. We need her to really step up in the bigger games this year,” he said. “She’s growing into a leader. She’s always had players above her in age. She’s now a leader who has to step up.
“We need her to set the tone in games for us. The other girls are watching her instead of playing with her. Sometimes they rely on her to do too much. She’s been trying to facilitate to get others involved in the game, forcing them to make plays. She’s been spreading it out.”
Rosales joins standout junior forward Aaliyah Leanos to form a promising duo to watch for the next two seasons. Rosales scored a goal and tallied two assists and Leonas collected three goals and an assist in a 6-1 win over Eisenhower on Tuesday. Leanos had four goals and Rosales finished with a goal and two assists in a win over Romeoville on March 15.
“We’ve grown up playing with each other, which has helped us grow together, on and off the field as individuals, teammates and friends,” Rosales said. “We both know the movement on and off the ball and anticipate each other’s plays.”
The Mustangs (4-2) are still working out the kinks after graduating 10 players, Bageanis said. Morton suffered shutout losses to Andrew and Plainfield South.
“We’re still finding combinations that work well on the field,” he said. “We got some younger players on the varsity this year.”
Nazareth three-sport star Olivia Austin making mark
It’s not surprising that Nazareth is thinking big with junior forward Olivia Austin on the team.
The highly talented three-sport star played a major role in the Roadrunners’ volleyball team placing second at state in Class 3A in November. She was a starter on the Nazareth basketball team which won the program’s first state title on March 4. Austin scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the state title game win over Lincoln.
In soccer, Austin is making a big mark too. Austin has played in limited games, but has managed to net five goals and three assists, including a three-goal effort in a 4-1 win over Oak Park-River Forest on Tuesday.
“Olivia Austin is by far the best forward I’ve coached in my 23 years of coaching,” Nazareth coach Roberto Cianci said. “She has the perfect combination of power, speed and height and can play with both feet and for a goal scorer, she’s just as happy to get an assist.”
Nazareth opened the season up with several tough opponents to provide an early assessment. The Roadrunners (2-3) lost their first three games – to York, St. Charles North and Burlington Central – by a combined total of 13-2.
The Roadrunners rebounded with an 8-1 win over Rosary and their victory over Oak Park-River Forest.
Nazareth, which competes in the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference, advanced to the Class 2A sectional semifinals last season.
“We started slow playing against tough Class 3A competition, but with every game we started gaining a bit more confidence and realizing we can play and compete,” Cianci said. “We’ve been able to correct our mistakes and are playing much better.
“I believe if we are healthy, we can compete in conference for a top spot and get back to sectionals and make it very interesting.”
Lyons freshman midfielder Carolina Capizzi is making a big impact in her first season. She scored a pair of goals in Lyons’ 3-0 win over Downers Grove South last week…Benet sophomore Keira Petrucelli is another player off to a strong start after a stellar freshman campaign.