North Central Women’s Soccer Season Recap

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North Central Women’s Soccer Season Recap. The Cardinals had one of their strongest ever seasons, making a run to the CCIW Championship game.

Returning to the Field

Andrew Gamarra, Head Coach: “Losing last year, it gave us an opportunity to be grateful and humble and just understand that, you know, at moments when we can’t do things that we love and be passionate about. You get great, you gained an appreciation for it. So for our kids to step in year and just know that where we’ve been to, where we are now, it’s just it’s been a great journey.” 

Kily Egan, Junior Midfielder: “After last year, it’s been. I can’t be more grateful for this year. We’ve had the opportunity to play so many games and we’ve come together every single week and we’ve honestly pushed through a lot of hard games. So it’s just been great to be back out in the field.” 

Mady Schmidt, Senior Defender: “It’s been a lot of like new adjustments and a lot of learning experiences, but overall pretty awesome. And I love my team and just happy to be here and actually get to play this year.” 

Back and Better Than Ever

There is no doubt that after a year off due to the pandemic, the North Central Women’s soccer team came back stronger. They set a new program record with 12 wins, and finished with an above .500 record for the first time since 2009 and only the second time in program history. This new success on the field, they say, is in large part due to work they’ve done as a team away from it.

KE: “Honestly, it’s a lot about communication and bonding, so we’re family on and off the field, so the amount of trust that we’ve built between us allows us to connect and play as a unit.” 

MS: “That we’re a family. We work together like we win together, we lose together and we have fun together. And that’s what that’s why we’re doing so well, in my opinion.” 

In the many months building up to this come-back season, the Cardinals felt that something was different about this team. They were proved right with their performances with plenty of goals and wins to celebrate. But the soccer success wasn’t the best part for the Cardinals, but rather simply getting to be back on the field and back to the sport they love playing, particularly when they get to play together as team

Katie Huey, Sophomore Midfielder: “So something that’s really fun, like especially this year, is we actually got to play together. So there’s some things you can’t really replicate when you know you’re doing a lot of team bonding during COVID and everything. But when you get to find those bonds on the field like, you know, passing, scoring goals, having fun, that’s just a different dynamic that I don’t think we were able to replicate as much in like the lot in last year, so my freshman year. But we’re just really looking forward to, like, show everyone how much hard work we put into the whole year, like all of us have been working since last year. So it’s been like a whole year process. And this like this success isn’t an accident like we’ve been putting in the work. So now it’s just kind of showing everyone.” 

Making History

On their way to qualifying for the CCIW tournament, perhaps the biggest highlight was defeating rival Wheaton for the first time in program history after 26 consecutive losses, a win that seemed to give the Cardinals just the boost they needed heading into postseason play.

AG: “The win against Wheaton was ahhh I don’t know we haven’t lost back to back games since opening weekend, and that was one of our main statements and wanting to be a tournament team is not dropping back to back games. I think they’ve taken that to heart. But obviously, you want to have this momentum heading into a postseason. You want to be peaking at the right time. I think our kids are are there. So.”

KE: “We finally beat the records for the most conference wins and most wins in a season. So it’s just awesome to go in with all that confidence and all that adrenaline pumping through all our veins.”

Senior Leadership

One of the faces of this team’s success has been senior defender and captain Maddie Schmidt. In first two seasons, Schmidt didn’t play much and started only two games in that time. However, in her third and final season she emerged both as a leader and an indispensable part of the defense and a player who will certainly be missed greatly by teammates and coaches.

AG: “Put us on this track four years ago, this is the second recruiting class I had, they really envision what the program was to be and really put in the work and set the standard for all the expectations Maddie has just been. She’s been an incredible, incredible leader. She’s just growing into her own and Maddie was a kid where she wasn’t playing her first two years. And for us just Maddie, to be able to step in that role is just so important, and she’s just done a great job.”

MS:  “I’m very proud of us, I mean, we’ve come a lot farther in the last four years than we ever expected to from not making the tournament my freshman year to being the second ranked team and almost winning it all. It’s a huge accomplishment for us and we’ll be back better next year.”

Falling Just Short, But Plenty to Build On

After a crazy 6-3 win over Illinois Wesleyan in the CCIW semifinals, the Cardinals season unfortunately came to and end in the conference championship game against the same Wheaton team that had beat in historic fashion just a couple weeks earlier.

MS:  “I think we’ve got a lot stronger just as a team in general, offensively, defensively, at the beginning of the year, we weren’t scoring a lot of goals and by the end of the year I mean, we put six on Wesleyan the other day, so. We can’t win every game, it definitely sucks and stings, but it’ll be fuel for next year.” 

Even though it ended with a loss, that does not diminish all the successes of this season for North Central women’s soccer. This night in Wheaton wasn’t their night, but all signs point to many bright days ahead for this group of Cardinals.

AG: “I can’t say enough words to tell you guys how proud I am of them, they I mean, we did so many things that hasn’t haven’t been done before with with our program and to get to this point, it’s special and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”