In May, then-junior Marisol Galvan helped Minooka win its first regional championship in girls soccer since 1999 with a 3-2 win over Lincoln-Way Central at Joliet Central.
Two months later, Galvan was part of team success that far surpassed the state regional level.
Galvan’s Windy City Pride team won the U-17 Super Group Girls championship at U.S. Club Soccer’s National Cup XII in Aurora, Colo. The Pride went 3-1, defeating Northern Steel Navy 1-0 on July 18, falling 1-0 to FC Portland 95G Navy on July 19, winning 2-0 over Kryptonite 95 on July 20 and defeating Kryptonite 95 again 3-0 on July 21.
“It was really, really intense. Every time I was on the field, I was like having little heart attacks,” Galvan said. “You had to put that out of your mind, and you’d just start chasing (opponents) down, not even thinking about it.”
To qualify for nationals, the Pride won the Midwest Regional. They won their three matches on June 28, 29 and 30 by a combined score of 12-0.
With the championship run, Galvin and her teammates showed something to their coach, Ko Thanadabouth.
“Our coach was nagging us that we had never win anything really big. We never accomplished (anything like this) before now,” Galvan said. “I mean, he was proud of us. We finally won something. He had said we always came up short, but we finally won something — a championship of our own.”
Thanadabouth says the championship, and the team’s past failings, are all part of the development process.
“This group had been knocking at the door before, but you still have to prove to yourself that you can get over the hump and win one of these titles,” he said.
“Marisol is a good soccer player, a versatile player. I would say we won the championship because we were a good team as a unit, and Marisol is one of those players who fit in well on that type of team. In terms of her overall game, she can do both — play in the defensive end and come up and help get involved in our attack.”
Playing in Aurora, which is officially 5,471 feet above sea level, according to its website, did not challenged the Pride as they thought it would, says Galvan.
“When we first went out there, we were thinking the altitude would be a big difference for us,” she said. “Once we started playing, we realized it really didn’t make a difference.”
Team bonding, Galvan says, is a big reason that the Pride broke through at nationals, just as it was a big reason Minooka won a regional earlier this year.
“Our (Minooka) seniors, and all of us, really bonded a lot better than the previous years. With that being said, we worked a lot better and worked out a lot better. Our conditioning was great. The last time we won a regional, some of our teammates weren’t even born yet, so it’s pretty good to do that, I guess,” Galvan said.
“With nationals, I felt like our team just got closer through the experience. I had to work as hard, if not harder. Club soccer pushes me more, and they get more out of me, than my high school team does. Winning nationals was amazing. Not a lot of people get to experience getting that medal and a big title like that.”
Minooka coach Chris Brolley says the newfound team success correlates with consistent individual growth by Galvan.
“Every time she’s come back in the spring, after another year of club soccer, she’s picked up something else, and she’s grown into an elite player. Freshman year, she didn’t stand out too much,” Brolley said.
“As she’s grown — and in playing for her club team, she travels as much as anyone I’ve ever heard of — she’s always had that motivation. To put it nicely, she’s physical. She’s aggressive. She doesn’t back down from any challenges. She’s one of the best soccer players I’ve coached. Having her and Jill (Hetfleish) together made for a dynamic tandem.”
It has also been a big year off the field for Galvan when it comes to soccer. In January — before her junior prep season had begun — she verbally committed to Northern Illinois University. She says she will receive a partial scholarship to attend the school and play soccer for the Huskies.
“When I contacted them the fall of my junior year, and then researched the school, I really liked it,” Galvan said. “And it was so close to home. I went for my college visit, and the girls on the team were nice and extremely welcoming. They had the major (nursing) I want to major in.”