Malania Huemann is looking at the big picture despite her impressive start to the season.
It’d be easy for Huemann, a Johnsburg freshman, to get a big head after tallying three hat tricks in her first three high school matches, but Huemann is more focused on what her success means for the team’s overall fortunes.
“That’s really exciting,” Huemann said about her three hat tricks. “I think something that’s even more exciting is how our team plays together and how everyone plays together as a huge part, scoring the goals and bringing home wins.”
Huemann couldn’t have asked for a better debut when she scored three goals and added two assists in the Skyhawks’ 8-5 win over Round Lake on March 16. She continued her hot start by scoring three goals in a 9-0 win over Marengo on March 20 and another three in a 7-1 win over Grant on Thursday, March 23.
“That’s really exciting. I think something that’s even more exciting is how our team plays together and how everyone plays together as a huge part, scoring the goals and bringing home wins.”— Malania Huemann, Johnsburg freshman
Despite battling nerves in her first three matches, Huemann said she’s turned the nerves into motivation.
“It’s given me a little more confidence for the next game,” Huemann said “It’s just really exciting and I love finding the teammate who gave me the assist because I know how important that is.”
Johnsburg coach Rob Eastland has been impressed with Huemann’s composure and how fearless she’s played as a freshman. He said Heumann has the ability to play beyond her years, knowing when to beat a player, when to shoot and when to pass.
“She just really takes it to it,” Eastland said. “She’s really humble, a great student and a great person that the great player that she is comes out naturally.”
Eastland and Huemann are both excited about Huemann’s start to the season, but they’re both more excited for just how well this season’s freshmen group has played well together. The Skyhawks have seven freshmen on the roster, five who start, and their familiarity with each other after playing club soccer has already transitioned to high school soccer.
“I can’t wait to see how much more the team grows and develops together,” Huemann said, “keeps working and meshing together, putting together our best effort.”
Jacobs finally getting outside
The cold and wet weather to start the season has forced Jacobs, and many different teams in the area, to practice indoors and not gain experience playing together outdoors.
The lack of outdoor practices hasn’t stopped the Golden Eagles from starting the season 3-0 after a 4-0 win over Larkin on Tuesday, but there are still things they want to work on.
“It’s a completely different setting,” Jacobs midfielder Gabby Wojtarowicz said. “Inside, we don’t have the big goals but we know from past experiences in club season how to play outside and we just use what we do inside.”
Wojtarowicz said practicing outside will help the Golden Eagles work on passing the ball from side to side and finishing on their scoring chances, something Jacobs needs to improve on after three matches. With warmer forecasts set in the coming weeks, Wojtarowicz and coach Colin Brice are encouraged they can build off their strong start.
“You can’t mirror what you can do out here,” Brice said. “Once we get some trainings outside, I think our play will elevate from there.”
Huntley’s high scorers
Huntley has shown how dynamic its scoring can be through three matches this season.
The Red Raiders scored 15 goals in their two wins over Marian Central and Auburn and added another in their 5-1 loss to Stevenson on Friday. Coach Matt Lewandowski was excited with how much potential there was entering the season and has already seen some of that in his frontline.
“We have a lot of potential, it’s potential all across the field,” Lewandowski said. “This is the most even amounts of playing time we’ve had in the past five years, this is the deepest team we’ve had in a long time. It’s exciting to see.”
The scoring hasn’t been dominated by one player. Grace Helzer recorded a hat trick in Huntley’s win over the Hurricanes and Chloe Pfaff scored three goals in the Red Raiders’ win over Auburn. Gabi Farraj scored in two matches and seven different players scored in the team’s win over Auburn.
Helzer said having so many different scoring threats puts less pressure on each player and bring a sense of comfort they hope can continue as the season progresses.
“It makes everyone feel more comfortable behind the ball, knowing that you have someone right next to you, running at the same pace as you,” Helzer said. “It makes life 100 times easier.”
Marian building mental strength
Marian coach Megan Graf saw the value of playing up two classes when the Hurricanes lost 6-0 to Huntley.
“It gives us something to work to,” Graf said. “You always play up to your competition so this is something that we can take in and work on getting better.”
Graf saw some growth in Marian’s next match after the Hurricanes defeated Marengo 3-0. She’s still trying to build a stronger relationship as a first-year coach with some new players. Graf hopes her returners can help lead the way as the Hurricanes try to build mental toughness when playing tough competition.
“It’s going to be the fact of can our older players, can our veterans, can our captains bring the team up and increase the sprits?” Graff said. “A lot of it is going to be on the girls to have the mental toughness to not give up.”
McHenry’s positive vibes
Despite only playing one match so far this season, McHenry coach Andy Stegenga is excited for what the Warriors can accomplish.
“This group of girls in general is locked in,” Stegenga said. “This is one of the most fun groups that I’ve ever been around. They enjoy being around each other, there is a chemistry there, it will get there, but you can see it on the field.”
The Warriors’ lone match was a 4-0 win over Richmond-Burton on March 16, where McHenry made the most of the Rockets’ mistakes and limited one of the highest-scoring teams in McHenry County last season. Stegenga thought McHenry communicated well in order to create scoring chances and limited threats and recovered well when the Warriors did make mistakes.
“We just need to keep those games close and go from there,” Stegenga said. “Our backline is going to keep us in it and we’ve got the power up top to score some goals, so hopefully it’s a fun year and we keep building.”
Richmond-Burton’s mixed reviews
Richmond-Burton has gotten mixed results offensively through four matches this season. The Rockets have scored eight goals in four matches against McHenry, Woodstock, Round Lake and Lakes after scoring 135 goals last season and returning much of the scoring talent from last season’s team that finished runner-up in the Class 1A state tournament.
Casey DeCaluwe isn’t worried and knows the scoring will become more consistent.
“We’ll find the back of the net,” DeCaluwe said. “After last year, I know we will.”