For the Coal City soccer team, there is little surprise what their goals are as the season winds down. To beat Herscher and preferably in regional action. While the Coalers did come away with a 1-0 win over Herscher on Thursday night, the fact that the Tigers have eliminated the locals four years in a row from the playoffs looms large.
If ever the Coalers were going to break through and snap that skid, one would think it would be this group. There are nine seniors on the squad this year and most all of the contribute significantly to the cause. At the forefront of them is midfielder Alisha Johnson. She and the rest of her teammates are about to conclude their four-year high school career soon, but before that happens, Johnson agreed to be the subject of this week's question and answer session.
Q. Let's start with once upon a time. How long have you been playing soccer now and for whom did you play for first competitively?
A. I first started playing soccer when I was 6 years old for Coal City Soccer Club. When I was 10, I tried out for Chicago International and played competitively on a boys team. Playing with the boys made me more aggressive and determined to do my best. At the age of 12, I went to an all-girls team. For the past six years, I have been playing with USSA-DUFC out of Manteno. The girls I have played with year around are from Manteno, Herscher and Peotone, which during the high school season are some of the strongest teams we play against. Playing with these girls year around have helped me become the player I am today.
Q. Do you remember your first goal or first big team win?
A. Scoring my first goal by a toe kick when I was about 9 and it slowly rolled in. It was the first and only game my mother missed.
Q. Who was your biggest athletic influence growing up?
A. I don't think I really had any.
Q. Has soccer always been your only sport? In not what other sports have you participated in over the years?
A. No, I played volleyball, basketball and ran track. This past fall I gave up volleyball to focus on soccer, which helped me greatly with the few things I wanted to improve on. I have signed with Concordia University in Chicago to play soccer this fall and will also run track in the spring.
Q. What makes soccer such a special sport?
A. It's a team sport and everyone becomes a family. Also the speed and power involved, the thrill of scoring and helping your teammates score.
Q - I know we've been over this before, but this senior class of soccer players at CCHS has been playing together a long time. How much has that benefitted the team over the years and specifically this spring?
A. Team chemistry and already knowing each other's style of play.
Q. It looks like Coal City is having a school-record setting season. Did you guys anticipate this kind of performance this spring?
A. We definitely knew we could achieve something this year with hard work and dedication.
Q. With time winding down in the season and with the postseason approaching quickly, what is your assessment of the team going into the regional and what, if anything do you guys need to improve on?
A. We could actually win regionals for the first time in the schools history. The only thing we really need to improve on is just fine-tuning a few little things.
Q. Finally, it looks like you are going to have to get past Herscher again this year to win a regional. How important is it for this team to win a regional title and why?
A. It would be the first time and we actually have a good chance of achieving it with such a large group of seniors.