There are two main reasons why Yorkville appears to be en route to having the best season in school history.
First, the team only lost two players from a 13-win team to graduation. While one of them was goalkeeper Sydney Hering, the Foxes are confident that talented newcomer Nava Campbell will step in be a dominant player.
Plus, she’ll be under the tutelage of first-year head coach Michael Wiest, who had served as an assistant coach. It was only eight years ago that Wiest collected all-state honors as a goalkeeper at Naperville North before recording 21 shutouts at Bowling Green State – so there’s do doubt she’s learning from one of the best.
The team also returns plenty of talented players all over the field from a team that went 13-7 last year and finished third in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.
That group includes Maddy Brusak, Maddy Grandys (eight goals, six assists in 2017), Catelyn Peterson (three goals, nine assists) and Katie Starznickas (three goals, 11assists), among others.
Secondly, the Foxes still have Peyton Willie on their team. The Illinois recruit scored 39 goals last spring and now has 90. She has said that a personal goal was to score 100 and reaching three digits now seems to be a given. She’s also one of nine seniors on this veteran squad, which also returns nine starters from a season ago. They’re quite loaded and ready to go.
“We are excited about this season,” Wiest said. “We are returning 13 players that were on the team last season, nine which are returning starters. We will be competitive. All the players have worked very hard in the offseason and are ready to build from last season. We feel like we are a very balanced team. We have key returning starters in every position and we feel confident both offensively and defensively.”
Willie’s eye-popping offensive numbers are a big part of the team’s scoring prowess, but she’s not the only one. This is a Foxes' program that has proven that it can attack teams and score, and they should be able to do a lot more of that again.
The Foxes scored 75 goals in just 20 games last spring.
“We have strong offensive players that have a knack for finding the back of the net,” Wiest said. “The midfielders have great vision to set up forwards in great scoring opportunities.”
And then there’s the defense.
Brusak is one of those players that’s underappreciated by the casual fan, but is someone who will have a big say in how successful the Foxes will be this season.
She’ll be expected to lead the back line in front of Campbell. Last year the Foxes surrendered 1.1 goals per game, but also recorded 11 shutouts as Brusak earned all-conference honorable mention accolades. She could get some help in back from freshman Ellie Maaske, a midfielder defender who is one of a few newcomers expected to play a role. Senior midfielder Jenny Nunez is another.