The only winning team
By John Ring
The Silver Streak girls soccer program is basically still in its infancy. They got off to a tough start in the first few years of their existence.
Every game was like Reagan-Mondale. Or, to be fair and balanced, Roosevelt-Landon. It was a rout.
Then they got respectable. The scores got closer. Then they got to the .500 mark. Then they won a tournament game.
Now, they've beaten Moline.
"It was big for us because it was the first time we've done that," said Streaks Coach Jim Carothers about Galesburg's 2-1 win over the maroons last week.. "We've played them hard, we've played them close, so it was nice to get that win."
Galesburg started off slow this year but things turned around when they went to the United Township Invitational and came away with a third place trophy. "That's our second plaque," said Carothers. "That was big for us. We had never finished that high there before."
But it was more than that. According to many of these Silver Streak players, it was a loss at that tournament that turned the season around for them.
"We lost to Mundeline but it was a real tough game," said senior midfielder Carlie Mangieri. "The score was just 2-0 and when I got home I looked on their school website and they had shutout something like eight of the nine teams that they had played and the scores were a lot more lopsided than ours. That was our only loss at that tournament and we came home with a trophy."
This Streaks team has no true superstar. Teams like that tend to have no egos. They pass, they share, they talk and in the end, they win. It's no different with them. When they score in bunches, it tends to come from a lot of different players. "In past years, that could pretty much sum up our season," said Mangieri. "If we had a great player, we would win if she had a great game. But it isn't that way so much now."
"We give out a lot of different game balls and they're well deserved," said junior forward Kiara Akpore, "but really, to be honest, our MVP is Hannah Katchen."
Katchen is the Streaks goalkeeper, a position she really didnŐt want to convert to but excels at. Just a junior, Katchen already has Streak records for most shutout games in a season (7) and career (14).Katchen is tall, athletic, spunky and imposing in the goal but a trio of midfield defenders is making her life a lot easier.
"Listen," said Carothers, "in our game against Geneseo, they took twenty five shots on our goal and we took just seven. The game ended in a tie. Hannah did a great job but defenders like Kristen Gernant, Taylor Young and Amanda Mendrek combined in that game to help her out a lot. They have meshed well together and have really strengthened our defense."
Galesburg is on a four-game winning streak and that includes a 5-1 rout of Rock Island Alleman on Saturday. "I think the thing about us right now is we're getting focused before the game," said Akpore. "Another thing is that we're communicating really good out there and that's big in soccer. And, we're conquering our own space."
"We're positioning ourselves in the area that we can take care of," explained Kiara.
Kiara's twin sister, Sade, is a speedy forward for the Streaks. "I think one of the things that helped us where we are now is that after our slow start, we played some teams that weren't nearly as good as we were. We played them, we scored, we defended well and it built up our confidence. That's big for this team. We had some success and we have built on that and now we've knocked off Moline."
The Streaks are seeded #8 in the upcoming Regionals/sectional complex. That gives them a potentially tough draw but they host the Regionals which can only help.
Anyway you look at it, this is a team that has seemed to jell. Hannah and her gang may be just spunky enough to create a little havoc come tournament time.