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Soccer team hopes success continues in Regionals

Senior+Hailey+Arlis+holds+up+the+Southwest+Prairie+League+Conference+Championship+plaque+while+the+MCHS+girls+soccer+team+celebrates+their+first+conference+championship+in+36+years+at+home+on+Senior+Night%2C+May+9.
Senior Hailey Arlis holds up the Southwest Prairie League Conference Championship plaque while the MCHS girls soccer team celebrates their first conference championship in 36 years at home on Senior Night, May 9.

Senior Hailey Arlis holds up the Southwest Prairie League Conference Championship plaque while the MCHS girls soccer team celebrates their first conference championship in 36 years at home on Senior Night, May 9.

Courtesy of Wendi Arlis

Courtesy of Wendi Arlis

Senior Hailey Arlis holds up the Southwest Prairie League Conference Championship plaque while the MCHS girls soccer team celebrates their first conference championship in 36 years at home on Senior Night, May 9.

Bella Alessio and Cassady Cundari

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The underdog: a classic storyline of an under-appreciated opponent who faces off with the team that is anticipated to emerge victorious. Sports are full of underdogs, whether it’s the 1969 Miracle Mets, the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” USA National Hockey Team, or the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast men’s basketball team– each somehow managed to defeat the “big dog” and establish a name for themselves.

Joining these teams and their historic legacies is the 2017 MCHS girls soccer team.

“I think we are doing very well [this season]. We work together well, and playing together in the off season really helps,” said Macie Alexa, junior. “We have a good connection both on and off the field, and I think we’re going to make it far in the postseason.”

Prior to 2015, the lady Indians strung together many losing seasons in a row; however, the tables turned when the varsity team brought in some fresh boots to even up the playing field. The 2016 team made it farther in the playoffs than any MCHS girls soccer team did in history, falling short in a sectional championship where the team lost to Normal West in penalty kicks  after a 90 nail-biter.

This year brings even more experience and record-shattering heart; the girls were able to clinch a No. 2 seed in their sectional behind none other than Normal West. Along with the great seeding in sectionals, the girls broke Plainfield North’s 60-game win streak in conference.

“In the soccer world, the talk was Minooka couldn’t run the table,” said head coach Christopher Brolley. “[That] it’s ‘unlikely’ [Minooka] could beat [Plainfield] South and [Oswego] East to end the season. Obviously hearing that was a slap in the face. They don’t know these girls, they don’t see them prepare everyday. They can’t see their desire, heart, and attitude. That’s when I knew, it’ll get done. Shock them all.”

After Plainfield North’s 8-year conference champion streak under head coach Jane Crow, there is a new champion in town.

Kennedy Messina, junior center midfielder, believes beating North was one of the team’s biggest accomplishments.

“It was a really big upset for them, and we’ve been striving toward that goal since I started high school soccer. [This win] really got a lot of weight off our shoulders,” said Messina.

The Indians push every game no matter the field conditions or opponent, and excuses don’t exist in their vocabulary. Brolley deems every game “the most important game of the year” and emphasizes the importance of treating each team with respect and showing up to the field dignified and ready to play as if every match has a state championship at stake.

“The postseason is usually a second season for other teams who might not have had the success during the regular season, and for us, it has to have that same feeling,” said Brolley. “[We should] be happy for what [we have] have accomplished, but driven to go find that success again. Know [we] can succeed, but no need to have a parade for us. We are going to play great teams going forward, but that last two weeks of playing the best conference teams has prepared us as much as we can.”

With the first conference championship for Minooka girls’ soccer in 36 years under their belt, the Indians are fired up and ready to bring home some hardware from regionals at Moline High School. The team plays their first regional game on Tuesday, May 16 against Moline at 4:30 p.m.

“We’re going to work really hard and just put our minds to it,” said Sam Alessio, junior, regarding how the team plans to prepare for regionals. “[We plan] to play our game and put some balls in the back of the net.”

The girls recognize how their relationship with one another factors into their success on the field. Many of the players practice together in the offseason, and their bonds persist well beyond weekly games and practices. When asked what makes their team so resilient and triumphant, they all mention the value of timeless friendships and unity under a common goal: victory.

“There’s a lot of chemistry between the players on this team, and I think we’re going to get pretty far this year,” said Hailey Arlis, senior.

With orange crocs, cake pops, and booyahs galore, the Indians plan to finish the season stronger than ever.

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Soccer team hopes success continues in Regionals