2024 Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Crystal Lake Central’s Olivia Anderson

Senior earned All-State honors for 2nd time, led Tiger to 1st state title

Crystal Lake Central's Olivia Anderson takes a shot on goal in front of St. Ignatius College Prep's Quinn Urquhart during the Class 2A Deerfield Supersectional girls soccer match on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Deerfield High School.

Olivia Anderson needed to find a new balance this spring if she wanted to build off a strong junior season and help Crystal Lake Central achieve its goals of winning a state championship.

While Anderson kept some of what worked during a junior season that earned her the Northwest Herald’s Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor, she needed to make a change after hitting a bump with her confidence and her mentality early in the season.

“I changed my attitude and reasoning for playing,” Anderson said. “It’s just normal for a team to adapt to each other and find our role because it’s a team sport. There’s no one player who does it all.”

That change helped her continue being the catalyst for a Tigers team that showed potential of achieving their ultimate goal right from the start. Anderson took charge by leading the ball up the pitch on offensive pushes or making a defensive play to stop an opposing rush.

Anderson finished the spring with 16 goals and 13 assists, but her play on the pitch went beyond the statistics. She brought the best out of her talented teammates, ultimately leading to the program’s first state championship.

Her strong season helped the Loyola-Chicago commit earn Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association honors for a second straight season on top of All-Fox Valley Conference accolades.

For her efforts, Anderson was named the Northwest Herald Girls Soccer Player of the Year for a second straight season, as selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches. She won during a season with plenty of great performances in the McHenry County area. Richmond-Burton senior Layne Frericks and Crystal Lake South freshman Gracey LePage also were considered for the honor.

Sports reporter Michal Dwojak recently caught up with Anderson, who talked about her favorite memory from this past season, the pressure the Tigers faced this year and what other sport she’d play.

Crystal Lake Central's Olivia Anderson takes  penalty kick during the IHSA Class 2A Grayslake North Regional championship soccer match against Wauconda on Friday, May 17, 2024, at Grayslake North High School.

What will you remember most from this championship season?

Anderson: I think how close we were as a team. Especially at the end of the season, we tried to find every single moment we could all get together. I really miss it.

What did it mean for the senior class to deliver on their goal of winning a state championship?

Anderson: Winning a state championship, I think it was more of a relief than anything. By my senior year, after we already got into the state scene, we thought we owed it to ourselves.

What was that moment like once you actually won?

Anderson: It was such a relief. We were already so bonded, too, so just getting this moment with all of each other, it was pure joy. That’s the best way to explain it. All these big-game wins, it just brings me so much joy.

Was there a point sometime this season when you realized this team has what it takes to win a state title?

Anderson: It was the way we act playing big teams. I think we just stepped up every single time in those big moments, it was really motivating. Every single time we were exposed during the season, at the beginning of the season when we have those two tournament losses, we got exposed and how we reacted was really good. It was all just so motivating.

Was it championship or bust this season?

Anderson: It wasn’t even do better than last year because the only thing better is second or first. We just wanted first. The expectation was definitely there. It did result in a little bit of pressure. I know I felt a little bit of pressure, but we did a tournament early and that really set the stage, seeing that we can play with some of the top teams.

Did you guys feel like you had a target on your back?

Anderson: Definitely. I think the target on our back was motivating. We liked that feeling of people looking up to us, being ‘Oh, we’re playing Central, what’s going to happen?’ We like that type of vibe. It’s fun to win, and it’s fun to have that top-dog type of era.

What did it mean for you to earn another All-State honor?

Anderson: Last year it was such a big goal of mine, so it felt really good. This year, I think I hadn’t personalized it as much. I kind of changed my mindset with more reasons for playing. Especially with how good all of my teammates got in the past two years, I couldn’t have gotten the opportunity to get All-State if I didn’t have my teammates also working hard to get better and that environment to get better every day. I do think being the only one who got All-State, I feel kind of guilty. I feel like some of my teammates got gypped.

What did it mean to have add another FVC title and have success in the area?

Anderson: We just are so stubborn that I think that loss sophomore year against Jacobs, terrible-wind game, that’s where our stubbornness kicked in. We felt so terrible, and we weren’t going to let that happen again.

If you could play any other sport, what sport would it be?

Anderson: I might’ve stuck with gymnastics, but I always had a fascination for basketball, but my height doesn’t really play into it. That’d be fun, to have basketball in my back pocket. I’ve only played pickup with my friends.

If you could be any animal, which animal would you be and why?

Anderson: I have a current obsession with sharks, so I’ll say sharks. They’re just so cool, they’re just a little scary. But then people say they’re not that bad. I just think they’re so cool.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Anderson: It’s basic, but Hawaii. I think that’s such a cool, pretty place.

What does it mean for you guys to elevate the program the way you guys did?

Anderson: We’re definitely the class that ran it up. I’m excited to be able to someday look at that wall where they put all the years with what they won, and have most of it be the same year, have that be recognizable that we did that. One of our assistant coaches is an elementary school teacher, and she’s even hearing her students talk about wanting to play for Central girls soccer because of how exciting the past few years have been. My only regret is not winning that sectional title my freshman year.

How excited are to continue to play soccer collegiately?

Anderson: I’m so excited. I’m so blessed to be able to have another four years to play at such a high level. But I’m also so excited for another team that’s so close-knit. That’s one of the reasons why I picked Loyola, because it’s got that feel. Having a family environment in a team, it’s such a game-changer, you get so excited. I’m excited to stay local, too.

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