It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters. The Moraine Valley Community College women’s soccer team fought and improved with every game this year, even in a first-round elimination Oct. 27 in the NJCAA Region IV playoffs to end the season.
The Cyclones played their typical defensive style of soccer with the strength of defenders Monserrat Espinosa (Hubbard), who also was a captain, Stephanie Navarette (Shepard), Yesenia Galvan (Maria), Jill Kossifos (Mount Assisi), and keeper Ashley Solus (Richards). The defense grew stronger as a unit all year, understood their role and greatly contributed. Although there were no blowout losses and some blowout wins, there were disappointments. Solus had another season-ending injury in the second to last game. The Cyclones also had a below .500 average. Going 6-7-2 overall and 2-3-1 in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference for fifth place wasn’t where the team wanted to be at the end.
“We didn’t finish where I expected, and I wanted a positive in the wins. I was disappointed that we got knocked out of the playoffs, but I set the bar high with the incoming players,” said coach Jim Knawa. “That being said, we had some good games and some that could have gone either way. We were in every game this year, we just had some unlucky bounces, missed shots, shots wide, and some that hit the crossbar. We were solid offensively.”
While many opposing teams play more physical and offense-based soccer, the Cyclones focus on defense and maintain sportsmanship at all times. “I have high standards for how the players act on the field. I tell them to keep their head in the game and that acting up on the field is not what this team is about,” Knawa said. “As long as we show improvement, that’s what I look for. Tactically we improved in all areas, and if we had two more weeks, we could have gotten even better. The players gelled as a team, increased their teamwork, stuck together, and bonded.”
Many players stepped up this season. Captain Michaela Sheeran (Oak Lawn) repeated as the leading scorer with nine goals and eight assists followed by Alyssa Braun (Shepard) with eight goals and seven assists. Karla Lopez (Hubbard) and Angelina Brcic (Reavis) each had five goals and two assists while Patricia Tuxford (Richards) scored two goals with seven assists. Espinosa and Sheeran were named to the All-Region second team and All-Conference first team; Navarette and Tuxford got a nod to the All-Conference second team.
With seven sophomores moving on, there will be some gaps to fill, but the freshmen will be a good base to build from in 2013.