Girls soccer: Jacobs’ Gabby Wojtarowicz scores 22 goals in first 7 matches

Golden Eagles junior forward has already surpassed last season’s goal total

Jacobs' Gabby Wojtarowicz takes a shot on goal during a nonconference Huntley Invite girls soccer match against Larkin Tuesday, March 28, 2023, at Huntley High School.

Jacobs junior Gabby Wojtarowicz made it her mission this season to surpass the 20 goals she scored as a sophomore. She just didn’t expect to do it before the Golden Eagles started Fox Valley Conference play Tuesday.

Wojtarowicz entered Thursday with 22 goals, averaging 3.7 a match. While it felt surreal for Wojtarowicz to have already beaten her number from last season only six matches into this year, she credited her teammates for helping her achieve the goal so quickly.

“I just think with the help of the team, especially in the midfield, it was, with each team, it was just the goal to find me and then I score,” Wojtarowicz said. “The goals just went up really fast.”

Wojtarowicz foreshadowed how the season would go in Jacobs’ first match when she scored four goals against Guilford. She added six goals against Jefferson in the next match and scored three times against Grayslake North in the third match.

Wojtarowicz has scored in six of her team’s seven matches heading into Thursday.

A change in positions has helped Wojtarowicz become one of the top goal scorers in the area. After playing mostly center midfield last year, she is playing on top as a forward and finishing balls sent through from the midfielders.

“She has done a great job finishing in the box,” Jacobs coach Colin Brice said. “She did a terrific job over the offseason to improve her technical ability with her right and left foot and I think it’s made her more and more dangerous.”

Brice felt like Wojtarowicz was in for a big season after an impressive sophomore year, even if he didn’t expect it to happen this fast. The Loyola-Chicago commit earned Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association All-Sectional and All-FVC honors last season and continued to get better during the offseason with her club team, the Rockford Raptors.

“She’s played with the top girls and she doesn’t fear anyone,” Brice said. “That’s a huge asset in her ability to take on opponents and not back down from anyone.”

Brice and Wojtarowicz both agree that adjusting will be a major next step. Wojtarowicz has already seen opponents dedicate a player to stay on her at all times and has faced double and triple teams recently.

“I just think with the help of the team, especially in the midfield, it was, with each team, it was just the goal to find me and then I score. The goals just went up really fast.”

—  Gabby Wojtarowicz, Jacobs junior

Although Wojtarowicz wants to score 30 or 35 goals this season, she’s happy to adjust and start passing to open teammates because of the attention she’s drawing.

“Whatever works to get the win, it doesn’t really matter to me,” she said. “I just want to win games.”

Tigers playing with target on their backs

Winning four straight FVC titles has had its positives and negatives for Crystal Lake Central.

The winning is obviously positive. But the target on the Tigers’ backs and expectations have continued to grow throughout the years as they continue to stack wins.

Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Huntley was a good reminder that it won’t be easy to keep winning.

“We’re getting better and better,” Central coach Sarah Fack said. “I think they know what they have and how special this team is, especially going through the last few years. They know what they have, they know what they’re capable of, now it’s just finding that consistency and having that intensity and mental game each game we come in.”

Huntley's Sofia Bruns battles with Crystal Lake Central's Sadie Quinn for control of the ball during a Fox Valley Conference soccer game on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at Crystal Lake Central High School.

Central has been tested early this season as it tries to build upon last season’s Class 2A third-place finish. The Tigers played some of the top teams in the state at the St. Charles North/St. Charles East tournament.

They lost 6-0 to St. Charles North, tied 1-1 with Plainfield North and beat St. Charles East 3-1. Central started the season with a 2-2 tie against St. Charles North.

Fack and the Tigers still think there are plenty of improvements that need to be made to get to their goal of winning a state championship. Senior Brooklynn Carlson doesn’t doubt the Tigers can get there.

“We knew that at the beginning of the year that we had this,” Carlson said. “If we trained our hardest, played these hard games right now, there’s no way that we can’t go back to where we were last year.”

Red Raiders make progress in loss

Huntley coach Matt Lewandowski saw the value of Tuesday’s loss against Central despite wanting to win the Red Raiders’ FVC opener.

The Red Raiders tied their match less than a minute after giving up the Tigers’ opening goal and didn’t allow Central to build its 3-1 lead after the opening 10 minutes. Lewandowski was particularly impressed to see his young squad hold on against a Central lineup that returned most of its players for the past three seasons.

“Not only does it tell us what we’re capable of, it tells us how quickly games can change in either direction,” Lewandowski said. “But to know that we’re willing to fight and be nitty gritty just like I thought we would at the beginning is nice to see.”

There are still some things Lewandowski wants the Red Raiders to work on almost a third of the season in. He said Huntley started Tuesday’s match a little nervous and got disorganized a bit throughout the match.

But Lewandowski was happy to see Huntley become more organized as the match progressed.

“Win or lose we need progress,” Lewandowski said. “Progress is what we got.”

Rockets keep rolling in KRC

Richmond-Burton has continued its impressive stretch in the Kishwaukee River Conference this season. The Rockets are 3-0 so far and haven’t lost a KRC match since April 22, 2019, when they lost 7-0 to Woodstock.

Richmond-Burton has had plenty of success during that span. The Rockets have won three sectional titles in the past three seasons and reached the Class 1A state championship match in 2022.

They have three more regular-season KRC matches to go against Woodstock North, Marengo and Plano before competing in the KRC tournament at the end of the regular season.

Postseason assignments set

Area teams found out most of the paths they’ll need to take if they want to win a state championship.

In Class 1A, Johnsburg, Marengo, Marian Central and Richmond-Burton will all compete in the first sub-sectional of the Marian Central Sectional. The winner of that sectional will compete at the Dominican University Supersectional. Marengo will host a regional.

The Class 2A bracket will feature Burlington Central, Harvard, Woodstock and Woodstock North in the first sub-sectional of the Belvidere Sectional. The winners of that sectional will compete in a supersectional location to be named later.

Also in Class 2A, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge will compete in the Deerfield Sectional and the winner will move on to the Deerfield Supersectional.

In Class 3A, Jacobs, Dundee-Crown, Hampshire, Huntley and McHenry will compete in the Huntley Sectional. The winner of that bracket will move on to the Barrington Supersectional.

This postseason will be the first time all three classes’ state finals will be on the same weekend. The weekend will start May 30 and last until June 1 at North Central College’s campus in Naperville.