With a roster that includes 14 seniors, Evanston Township High School girls soccer coach Stacy Salgado never worries about team leadership.
Especially with captains like Nahla Dominguez showing the way.
Dominguez set the tone with a pair of goals on set pieces and sophomore Jocelyn Leigh recorded her first varsity hat trick on a frigid Thursday night at Lazier Field as the Wildkits improved to 4-0 on the season with a 6-1 drilling of Lake Forest.
Evanston’s intensity and creativity on offense has enabled the undefeated Wildkits to score a total of 16 goals in victories over Highland Park (4-0), Payton (3-0), Loyola Academy (3-2) and the Lake Forest Scouts. The Kits exploded for three goals in the first half Thursday in a 10-minute stretch, then tacked on three more in the second half.
That intensity came as no surprise to Dominguez. Why? Because she sees it every day in practice from her teammates.
“The most important thing about this team this year is that we want to play for each other,” said Dominguez, who serves as a co-captain along with Carly Menocal, Brealyn Viamille and Sarah Sollinger. “I’m trying to be just one of the many leaders on this team. We all push each other. We have a really great work ethic. Everyone is all-in and gives 110% even in practice – it’s really insane! And the chemistry? It’s always been there.”
“We have four strong captains and that intensity comes from them at the top,” said Salgado. “Nahla is such a consistent and reliable player. She gives it her all, every single moment, day in and day out. She has really stepped up for us this year. She’s played [varsity] since she was a freshman and she’s only gotten stronger, quicker and better.
“We have six seniors who played [varsity] as freshmen and it’s been so much fun to watch them grow and experience different teams. They’ve created the culture we strive for, and what’s nice is that it’s the players who drive this program – not the coaches.
“The nice thing tonight was that we were able to finish [scoring chances] in play, and on our set pieces [penalty kick and a free kick] too. It’s crucial that we are able to finish those set pieces this year.”
Dominguez has divided her time as a varsity midfielder between the “10” position – with the emphasis on offense – and the “6” spot – where defense is more of a priority – and has handled both roles with whatever skill set is required.
“I don’t play the 10 spot as often as I did before, but it was great to get some chances to score tonight,” she said. “It felt nice to play a little more offense tonight.”
Lake Forest (1-2 overall) actually had the best of play until the Wildkits broke through for the first goal, as a cross from Leigh to sophomore classmate Sydney Ross produced a 1-0 edge in the 15th minute as snowflakes flew all over Lazier Field.
Less than five minutes later, Leigh broke free and chipped a shot over the head of Lake Forest sophomore goalie Sarah Constantine from the 20-yard line to make it 2-0 in favor of ETHS.
Dominguez then delivered a penalty kick – her second successful try so far this spring – for a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Neither team threatened in the second half until the ETHS senior lined up for a restart right near the Wildkit bench. Somehow, she squeezed a long, drifting shot into the back of the net and the rout was on.
“I just aimed for the back post, and hoped for the best,” Dominguez said with a smile.
Leigh completed her memorable night by faking out a defender and burying a shot in the 68th minute, then knocked in a rebound of a shot by Ross two minutes later for the final tally of the night.