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Morris soccer hopes for regional repeat

Morris junior captain Emily Burling controls the ball at a Redskins practice on Tuesday.
Morris junior captain Emily Burling controls the ball at a Redskins practice on Tuesday.

For the first time in Morris Community High School history, the Redskins girls soccer team won a regional championship this last spring. They also ended up with the third highest win total ever by finishing 8-9-2 and are bringing back almost every starter in that lineup.

“We only lost one senior from last year (Stephenie Wiekert) and all of those girls have played another summer and winter indoor. They seem stronger and are a little bit more skilled that last year,” Morris second year coach Kristen Porter said. “Coach [Steve] Rain and I have high hopes this year because of that. The team is stronger and faster.”

Morris won its own regional last spring, defeating Streator, 5-1, and Yorkville, 3-2.

“That was exciting, especially for my first year. That boosted moralle,” Porter said, of the regional championship. “Everyone is really excited because they know it is just about the same team, only everyone has gotten a little stronger and a little bit more mature. We are hoping for real good things.”

Morris, which lost to Charleston, 3-0, at the IHSA Normal West Class 2A Sectional, basically will have to replace goalie Wiekert this spring. It’s something Porter has sorted out already.

“We have two goalies, including Maren (Bashor) who played on the JV team last year. She’s going to be the starter. She’s been doing a really good job all winter,” Porter said. “Our backup goalie will be Brooklyn Enger.”

That leaves a solid group of returners for Porter to work with.

“Everyone is a returning starter this year except for Grace Tibbott, Summer Shaw and Bryn Taylor. Every single girl that is going to be starting on the field, except for one or two, are people that started last year. We are also very deep. For every position we have a backup who is almost as strong as the one that is starting and that is great for us. We have so much depth.”

The projected starting lineup for Morris this year includes: Emily Ashworth, Cara Cummings, Kirsten Galloway, Ashlee Tapia, Katherine Gallick, Emily Burling, Mikaela Marino and Amanda Grant. Tibbott, Shaw, Taylor and Enger will also be filling in along with Haley Coleman, Sam Cherrone, Ciara Gallo, Brooke Baudino. Alexis Halcomb, Amber Misek, Sam Limbach, Dorissa Gutierrez and Emma Dingbaum.

“We lost our goalie from last year, which is a bummer, but we pretty much have everyone back. We’ve also gained some new players which will be great to have on our team,” Gallick said. “I think things are going to go even better because we have that regional win behind us and that gives us a lot of confidence; and we think we can do even better than we did last year.”

Morris was supposed to open the season Tuesday against Spring Valley-Hall but the Lady Red Devils backed out. The Redskins first game is now on Saturday morning at home against Herscher.

“We were really looking forward to it, actually,” Gallick said. “We had prepared for them yesterday [Monday] and were ready to play them, but it’s also nice to play and practice on a full field today before we play on Saturday.”

Instead of the match against Hall, Morris took advantage of the conditions on the back field behind the District 101 Fieldhouse to have an intra-squad scrimmage. It was one one the few times Morris has been able to get outside to this point.

“Only a few times. We were only able to practice outside once … then we were outside maybe two or three other times, but that’s all,” Gallick said. “It’s nice to be out here and not stuck inside in the gym.”

Morris opens with Herscher, a team out of the usually-tough Interstate Eight Conference for girls soccer. Still, few conferences around match the competitiveness of the Northern Illinois Big 12 for girls soccer that Morris is in.

“We have an extremely difficult conference because we play schools like DeKalb, Kaneland, Sycamore and they have incredible programs. Now some of them did lose some valuable seniors that made a big difference last year but they are very good. Their girls are big and strong. They seem to have a lot of girls that end up going DI,” Porter said. “That’s what we are going up against. But this year is going to be a lot more interesting. I think we are going to be getting a few more wins this year. We lost a lot of close games last year. We had a close game with Sycamore, our second game against DeKalb was close. I am little more optimistic about things than I was last year.”

Morris was 4-6 in league play last spring, but it did have success against the Lady Foxes.

“We play really good teams in our conference, but we did beat Yorkville in the regional for the third time that year,” Gallick pointed out. “That was probably the highlight of the year for us.”

A feat Morris may have to duplicate again this year if it wants another crack at a sectional win.

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