Evanston girls soccer coach Marx Succes has a motto: “Success isn’t measured in wins and losses; it is how well we play together and how much we improve.” This year’s team did just that, said senior Margaret Head.
“The whole season was very productive and we worked really hard,” said Head. “This year’s team got along so well, better than all of the teams in the past and we really enjoyed playing with each other in games and in practices.”
That sense of unity paid off for the Wildkits. They won a share of the Central Suburban League South Conference title, their first conference title since 2002, which was the last time they won the state title. The Kits finished the year with a record of 13-5-4 and were defeated in the regular season finale 1-0 against St. Charles North on May 14.
Heading into postseason action, the Kits were the third seed in the nineteen-team sectional that began May 19 at Evanston’s Lazier Field at Memorial Stadium.
“I think hosting the playoffs makes everyone try a little harder. No one likes to lose at home. Plus the home crowd gets everyone energized,” said senior Kat Wilson regarding the Kit’s home field advantage.
In the opening round, the Kits beat Taft 8-0 on May 19. On May 22 they beat Lane Tech 4-0 to win the Regional championship. In the Sectional semifinals on May 27 the Kits lost to Loyola 2-1. Their only goal came on a corner kick by Head.
Regarding the defeat, Head said, “Both teams played hard and it was just unfortunate that we couldn’t put away two or three goals. We had a lot of opportunities but we just couldn’t capitalize.”
Wilson added, “We played well, we just didn’t come out on top. We did everything we could to prepare for that game. We didn’t change a thing. Everyone’s heart was in it and everyone wanted it so badly, we just couldn’t pull through.”
After the game, Succes said, ” I told [the team] how proud I was of what they accomplished this season. Pick their head up, nothing to be ashamed of and let’s walk off the field with some pride.”
“Loyola was our toughest [opponent]. They were big and strong and had clearly been working on ways to play against us. They knew what was coming and they were ready,” said Wilson.
Looking ahead to next season, Succes says,” I’m counting on all of the younger players in the entire program to work hard this off-season and make that leap to the varsity team. Those that were on varsity this year are not guaranteed a roster spot. They have to work hard in the off-season so that they don’t lose their spot to someone else. Champions are made in the off-season [and] in this program, there’s no room for complacency.”
What Succes takes away from this season is “the fact that we are a good team and that we’ll be even better next year. [We are] graduating six wonderful seniors [including captains Head, Wilson and Elizabeth Kermgard] but some experienced and talented underclassmen are returning [including sophomore Delaney Clesen, junior Erin Rowell and freshmen Anna Sipple].”
Succes adds, “We are Evanston and soccer is what we do 24/7.” The season did not end the way they wanted it to, but the future is bright for the Kits. Look for them to battle for a state title once again next season.