MINOOKA — It probably will come as little surprise what Morris Daily Herald All-Area MVP Jillian Hetfleisch said she though was the most fun thing about the game of soccer.
“It’s the whole team aspect and the way everyone works together,” Hetfleisch said. “But scoring makes it fun for me.”
In that case, the last four years at MCHS for Hetfleisch must have been a real blast. In four years of suiting up for the Indians, all she did was score 84 career goals while adding 21 assists for good measure for a whopping four-year total of 115 career points.
“She is definitely one of the top players, if not the top player in our area. She’s a human highlight reel,” Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. “Her personal drive and physical abilities have enabled her to compete at a high level and I have seen some amazing and unreal goals in her four years at Minooka. It’s been fun to watch her and be a part of the ride.”
Hetfleisch played all four years at the varsity level and the captain of the Indians for the past two seasons.
“For the last two years, she’s been the heart of this team,” Brolley said.
This is the third consecutive year that Hetfleisch has been named the MDH Soccer MVP.
Winning a Regional
Back in 1999, the Indians won their first-ever regional title as a four-seed before losing to Lincoln-Way Central 4-0 in the Lincoln-Way Sectional. It became a standard that no other Minooka team has managed to attain until this spring. It’s seems quite fitting that the Indians beat Joliet West 3-0 and then Lincoln-Way Central 3-2 for the Joliet Central Regional championship.
“It means a lot that I was here when it happened because it happened way long time ago the last time,” Hetfleisch said. “I’m glad to be able to contribute to us winning a regional championship. It felt really good.”
Hetfleisch scored a goal against Joliet West and then cemented her legacy with a hat-trick against Lincoln-Way.
“I think we were always facing really tough teams in our regional round in the past. That aways made it tough for us. We finally pushed through that by working our hardest this time,” she said. “I wish we could have gone farther in the sectional, but we won a regional and that was a huge thing for us here. It was a great season for us.”
After scoring five goals as a freshman, Hetfleisch scored 24 as a sophomore, 23 as a junior and then 32 this past spring.
“Probably the best feeling was this year when I got 32,” she said. “I’ve been in the 20s the past two years and I wanted to go farther this time. I set goals for myself and I got them. Every year at the end I got them so it felt like a good accomplishment.”
Hetfleisch said that she got better over the years by dedicating herself to the sport.
“I think playing all-year round has made me a better player. By doing that I would never quite lose it. I kept gaining confidence in myself every year and that helped a lot, too,” she said. “I think I got a lot better. I was a lot more timid and terrified as a freshman and kind of as a sophomore, too. But as I grew up, I kind of realized that it’s really not that big of a deal. That I shouldn’t be scared. I felt that I could take them and did.”
Brolley has seen first hand what Hetfleisch brought to the soccer pitch each and every day.
“She is very quick but very smart soccer player. Her ability to play multiple positions with ease allows her to play defense for us when we need her to. She has been the best player on the field in every game we’ve played this year.”
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Being a standout for so long got Hetfleisch noticed and, while she could have probably found a home at a Division I school, she felt more comfortable going a different direction.
“At first I wanted to play DI, but that is really hard. I was like freaking out, and that’s when I realized that playing DII was best for me,” Hetfleisch said. “I was at an indoor game and one of the coaches came up to me from the school. I was nervous, but didn’t really know if they were watching me. It meant a lot to me that they noticed me and wanted me to come to their school. Then I went there and fell in love with it.”
Hetfleisch points out that UW Parkside is annually amongst the top 20 teams in the nation and that she thinks she going to get to contribute right away.
“They basically said that I am going to play forward,” she said. “I don’t really know how much, but coach did tell me that he wasn’t giving me money to sit the bench.”
The Hetfleisch Legacy
Rightfully so, Hetfleisch says that she is content with what she managed to do at MCHS.
“I feel really good. I’m hoping people will noticed what I’ve done. I feel really proud of the things I’ve done,” she said. “I’m hoping that I’m someone people will look up to over the years.”
And her best advice for a young player who wants to achieve the level of success that Hetfleisch and the Indians had this spring?
“Never lose sight of having fun. Yeah, you want to win and you want to do great but having fun is the most important thing,” she said. “It is fun when you win, but it’s also fun playing great together as a team. So, it would be to have fun and work your hardest and it will pay off.”