By Bob Narang
A break here or there for Rockford Guilford, and odds are its 2017 record would’ve looked a lot better.
But with 10 returning starters, including a number of talented underclassmen filling the roster, the Vikings have lofty goals after finishing with an 8-8 overall record and a 3-6 conference mark last spring.
“Our main goal is to prove our talent,” Rockford Guilford girls soccer coach Katie Barnett said. “Records are all that remain when a season is said and done.
“Although the close games are commendable, the girls need to fight for wins. This could, and very well should be, the season where all the moving parts come together. We have improved over the last three years, but need to show consistency throughout the season and start and finish our matches with urgency.”
Senior forward Mackenzie Pass has witnessed the progress of the program throughout her first three years on the varsity. A lifelong soccer player, Pass said the Vikings have the potential to contend for a conference title this season.
“We have a large senior base, about seven or eight of us, who’ve played together for several years,” Pass said. “We’ve built the program up over the last few years and have a solid group returning.”
Sophomores Olivia Zediker and Courtney Hinrichs gained valuable tutelage on the varsity last season. Both are experienced club players in store for bigger roles when the 2018 campaign kicks off in mid March.
“We have a lot of potential and in recent years, we gained talented younger players, too,” Pass said. “There are a few more freshmen coming in this year, so it’s exciting to see what we’re going to do together. We really have a lot of potential for this year, because everyone knows how to play together.”
Zediker noted that she’s fully recovered from a hamstring injury, which sidelined her for most of the second half of last season.
“I feel way stronger coming back this year,” Zediker said. “I want to prove myself to other schools by making the all-conference team and at least winning a regional title for my school.
“I have big goals. I’m going to keep getting stronger and training to get ready for the season.”
Hinrichs said the team is really motivated to reverse last season’s trend of close defeats.
“We’re trying to do something special this year,” Hinrichs said. “We have a lot of freshmen coming in, and the seniors are motivated. We should have a pretty solid team this year.”