By Steve Millar

With Lincoln-Way West having won its first girls soccer sectional title in program history last season, Warriors junior midfielder Anna Kirk knew the expectations would be even higher in 2018.

“We always expect to do well in the postseason, but last year was definitely special,” Kirk said. “We expect a lot out of ourselves now. We know what our team is capable of, and we want to have another season just as great as last year or even better.”

Last spring, West’s lineup was made up primarily of seniors and sophomores, with Kirk being a big cog a part of the 2019 class.

“Most of our team is going to be juniors now,” Kirk said. “There are some gaps to fill, and our class will be expected to do more to help the team win.”

Kirk is filled with fond memories from 2017, when the Warriors upset Lincoln-Way East and Sandburg to capture the Sandburg Sectional title before falling to Collinsville in a  3A supersectional.

“Winning that sectional championship was one of the best feelings ever,” Kirk said. “We had such a great team and such a great bond.

“I don’t think many other teams really experience a great connection with teammates,” Kirk said. “This group really gets along on and off the field. It’s just fantastic.”

That enjoyment and fun is something Kirk has loved about the sport since she first started playing at the age of 5.

“I’ve just always loved the sport,” Kirk said. “Right away when I was a little kid and started playing, I just thought it was so much fun. I’ve always wanted to keep playing.”

Besides making another deep state playoff run this season, Kirk also is looking forward to her team’s participation in the popular PepsiCo Showdown, which expands to include 96 high schools from Northern Illinois in April.

“Every year, the PepsiCo Showdown is a lot of fun,” Kirk said. “The atmosphere is great, and we get to play teams we never really get to see. It’s a great challenge.”

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