Last season, the Evanston Township High School girls’ soccer team lost to Lane in the Class 3A Evanston Regional championship game. The Wildkits hope to make it as far, if not farther this season.
After head coach Tasha Nemo, who coached the Kits for the last six years, left the program to teach English at Niles West, the Kits will be coached by Italian native Maurizo Grillo, who also handles head coaching duties for the boys’ soccer team at Evergreen Park. Grillo called the Evanston coaching position a “dream job.”
Upon entering his first season in Evanston, Grillo realizes that there is going to be a transition phase as the Kits learn his system. He feels that will not affect the team’s overall success this season. “It is never easy to introduce a new coach into a long-standing and well respected program. Each coach brings new rules, new set plays and new tactics which have to be learned and applied,” said Grillo. “As a result, we are going to consider this a transitional year in which we will learn each other and enjoy the game.” He added, “With that in mind, we [will] still strive to reach the sectional playoffs. A school with the level of talent and caliber of student athletes like ETHS always has these goals in mind.”
In order to reach those goals, Grillo says the team will focus on the basics of the game and more importantly, playing as a team. “We are going back to basics this year [with] practicing hard and focusing on passing the ball as a unit.” He added, “It is all about the team. We want to create chances with team movement rather than with individual efforts.”
Grillo says he is counting on all of his players to play vital roles in the team’s success this season, not just certain individuals. “[We count on] all of them, period,” he said. “Without a doubt, ETHS is in one of the strongest conferences around [the Central Suburban League South Conference]. Each and every one of [the players] is going to have to step up and play their best all season long.”
Regarding which teams and tournaments he is looking forward to playing this season, the Coach said, “Beside some of the obvious healthy rivalries [such as Glenbrook South on April 16, Niles West on April 24, and New Trier on April 29] , through the season I am really looking forward to the Naperville Invitational Girls’ Tournament [from April 18-20].” He added, “It is an impressive tournament filled with state championship-caliber teams and incredible talent. It is going to bring out the best in Evanston and there is simply no hiding when you play these teams.”
But that tournament is still weeks away and the Kits, who have just four seniors on the roster, have other teams they need to focus on before that tournament, starting with Lake Forest, who they played on March 11 in the season opener, followed by a matchup with Regina on March 12. Next up, the Kits are set to take on Hinsdale South on March 15 at Lazier Field in Evanston, followed by a visit to St. Charles North on March 16.
If the Kits can play up to their potential and as a team throughout the season, there is no telling where they will end up at the end of the season.