April 10, 2018
Led by five senior captains, including an All-Stater, the Fenwick female footers have posted six wins against two losses so far and are poised for a deep run in the Class 2A playoffs.
By Mark Vruno
Expectations are running hot this cold spring for the Fenwick girls’ soccer squad, which was ranked #16 in the area heading into Easter Break. In 2017 the junior-dominated Friars posted a record of 8-7-1 and fell to a physical York Dukes team in the Class 3A regional final. (Star player Lauren Stibich, who has committed play soccer at the University of Illinois next school year, was limited in that contest due to an ankle injury.)
"Killer" speed: An All-State performer in 2017, Illinois-bound Lauren Stibich is healthy and rolling for the Friars.
Now wiser and more mature as seniors and juniors, the young ladies will compete in the 2A bracket this season. They had an impressive showing at the Windy City Classic last month and have jumped out to a 6-2 (1-0) record heading into their second game of the big Pepsico Showdown, which started in Schaumburg this past Saturday. In their first seven games, the Friars outscored their opponents 26 goals to three.
Fenwick is one of 96 teams competing in the massive soccer tournament, which features more than 2,500 high school athletes. Nearly 200 games will be played in an eight-day span. In the first game, the Friars were shutout (1-0) by a solid team from Lane Tech. The girls host Andrew today at the Priory (4:45 p.m. kickoff).
Quintet of Captains
Junior midfielder Anissa Nourse tallied six goals and one assist in her first six games. Chicagoland Soccer’s Pat McGavin has called Nourse “a human highlight reel.” Notes Friars’ Head Coach Rob Watson, who oversees the boys’ and girls’ varsity programs at Fenwick, “Anissa is one of the best technical players that you’ll see. She’s a playmaker.” Nourse and Stibich, who was named 1st Team All State in ’17, are two of the best players in the state.
Anissa Nourse (left), a junior, has been called a "human highlight reel."
Of his Illini-bound, senior speedster, Watson says: “Speed is her weapon. She is the fastest player I’ve [ever] coached. You can’t coach speed, as they say, but we try to teach her how to use it.” He adds that Nourse, who also is “lightning fast,” complements Stibich well.
Three of the five Fenwick senior captains -- Kaylie Fredian, Lauren Miller and Stibich -- are four-year varsity starters and two-year captains.
- Coach Watson calls Miller the team’s “iron woman.” The center-defender has not missed a game in four years. “I don’t think she’s missed a practice,” he praises. “Lauren plays hurt; she plays sick.”
- On the defensive end, center-midfielder Fredian has returned from a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) sustained in her knee late last season. “Kaylie is our ‘workhorse,’” according to Watson. “She gives 110% and does everything that the untrained eye won’t notice. She is our motivational leader.”
- The team’s collective speed is enhanced, Watson says, by winger Anna Waring and fellow senior Tess Shannon, who joins Miller on the backline as an outside defender. “Anna and Tess came to us from the [Fenwick] track program two years ago,” the soccer coach adds.
One of five senior captains, Kaylie Fredian is back in the middle of the defensive action. "She's our 'workhorse," says her coach, Rob Watson.
Blazing Net Play
And then there’s net-minder McKenzie Blaze, who posted four shutouts in the Friars’ first six games. Blaze’s first love in sports is basketball. A power/small forward standing nearly six feet tall, she will play hoops at DePauw University next year in Greencastle, Indiana.
“We didn’t have a goal-keeper two years ago, so McKenzie volunteered with Coach [Dave] Power’s permission,” Watson explains. “She is a top-level athlete who played soccer as a kid. She’s big, tall, strong and competitive. I get calls from college coaches recruiting her to play soccer.”
So Fenwick is off and running, with Nourse (the junior), Stibich and the other four senior captains paving the way. “The younger players look up to her [Stibich],” Watson says, as they should. She just may lead them to the promised land at North Central College in Naperville the first weekend in June. The next seven weeks should be a fun ride!