Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central soccer coaches pull double duty

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The Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley girls soccer programs went through coaching changes this offseason after the retirements of Hall of Fame coaches. Although replacements for Central’s Ed Watson and Neuqua’s Joe Moreau were pretty much in the schools own backyard. This spring the Wildcats and Redhawks hand the keys over to their respective boys soccer coaches, Troy Adams and Arnoldo Gonzalez. This Feature Story is sponsored by Edward-Elmhurst Health.

“I just love the opportunity to work with the athletes, student and have a chance to keep the tradition of girls soccer at Central on a high note.” said new Naperville Central girls soccer coach Troy Adams. 

“I’ve been coaching the girls for many years, but to take upon a program it’s a different story. You almost want to take the program in a certain direction so I just welcomed that challenge. I really enjoy coaching soccer so why not do girls at this level,” said new Neuqua Valley girls soccer coach Arnoldo Gonzalez. 

New coaches, same programs

This may be the first time both will serve as leaders of varsity girls soccer, but both coaches were already well connected to their programs before taking over the head roles. Troy Adams served as an assistant coach under Watson while Gonzalez spent his time with the JV squad with Moreau leading varsity. While the sport remains the same, the adjustment is a bit different when it comes to coaching on the girls side in the spring. 

“I know it’s soccer but it’s a different beast, it’s big shoes to fill with Moreau being one of the greatest coaches here. I’m very excited to take upon the challenge and it’s been great so far,” said Gonzalez. 

“There’s a learning curve on each end of them because each season is so different. In the fall you have the whole summer leading up and for the spring you’re trying to work through the winter and you got athletes playing other sports but it’s a very unique situation to be able to see the dynamic between the two,” said Adams. 

Hall of Fame shoes to fill

Taking over for Ed Watson, who made Central girls soccer a premier program for over 30 years, Coach Adams is coming off a State championship season with the Redhawk boys this fall. He also has top three State finishes from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Adams also helped the Hawks to many regional and sectional titles, which brings excitement to a girls team looking to make a deep postseason run after several heartbreaking finishes to recent seasons.

“He had an incredible season with the boys in the fall so we were really excited to have him come on to the girls program and he’s brought in a lot of new ideas that were all really enjoyable and it’s been a fun time so far,” said Naperville Central senior Megan Norkett. 

“He’s brought a lot of new things into the program and just been able to keep us working hard and our work ethic is always at its top tier. It’s been a good few weeks and the start of the season has been good,” said Naperville Central senior Ella Burke. 

Joe Moreau coached girls soccer at St. Charles, before the school split into St. Charles East and St. Charles North won five consecutive State championships from 1996-2000. He then made the move to Neuqua Valley to bring home a state title in 2005 as an assistant coach and a State runner up finish in 2015 as head coach. In the fall of 2015, Arnoldo Gonzalez was named head coach for the Neuqua boys, where his teams have won regional titles in 2016 and 2021. The Wildcat girls are coming off back-to-back regional titles and Gonzalez is ready for the challenges ahead. 

“You always try to do the best for the program and try to keep as many kids involved but there’s many challenges but if you have a great support system they’re always welcomed,” said Gonzalez.

For the time being it will be exciting to see what each coach will bring to their new roles on the soccer pitch.The two teams met up earlier this season where the Redhawks came away with a narrow 2-1 win. It is also likely these two teams could see each other again in the postseason at some point in the challenging East Aurora Sectional. Last season, it was Neuqua under Coach Moreau, who stunned Coach Watson’s Redhawks in the regional championship game. Now with Adams and Gonzalez coaching against each in both the fall and the spring, we will see multiple opportunities for bragging rights. 

“We’re competitive, we enjoy it and playing with him is always going to be a hard fought challenging game because he’ll change tactics, he’ll change ideas and you have to adapt around it,” said Adams.