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Bryce Banuelos tops All-Area Girls Soccer North Team

York's ultra-competitive sports fan prefers taking field to watching on TV

Published: Friday, June 7, 2013 1:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 11:39 a.m. CDT
(Sarah Minor –
York's Bryce Banuelos will continue her career at West Virginia University this fall.

ELMHURST – Bryce Banuelos is a sports fanatic, but she’d rather play than watch.

A fresh graduate of York, she loves sports and didn’t focus on only soccer growing up. Her older brothers played baseball and she even played that until eighth grade.

For an athlete that comes from an athletic family and played multiple sports growing up, it would make sense for Banuelos to have athletes that she looks up to or likes watching. Actually, she doesn’t watch many sports at all.

“I don’t really watch TV in general a lot,” she said. “I’m very competitive and I just like to play.”

She liked the competition of playing with the boys in baseball, but after eighth grade she dropped that and focused on soccer.

“I never wanted to play softball and obviously I couldn’t keep playing with the boys,” Banuelos said. “Soccer at that point wasn’t as competitive and time worthy as it is now. We were still so young. Baseball I’d just play year-round. You can’t really play year-round, but I would just practice year-round.”

Now she plays soccer all year. After completing a star season for York, which included all-state honors, Banuelos is right back into the club soccer scene. She plays for Team Chicago with five other all-staters and York teammate Ellie Ordonez.

Unlike during club season, she had to play a bigger role in York's midfield this spring. It’s a role she liked, but also came with more pressure.

“It can be tough because sometimes people rely on you, but obviously it’s 11 v 11 and you can’t do everything by yourself,” Banuelos said.

Banuelos still thrived with the Dukes and was often at the heart of the York attack.

“She’s all over the field," said York coach Chris Halupka. "She’s physical, she’s aggressive, she has great vision and she gets forward and scores goals.”

As a two-year varsity player, Banuelos was a part of two winning seasons. The Dukes won 20 games and a regional last year and made the final of the Pepsi Showdown this season.

“Last year was a lot of fun because we had other really top players to play with,” Banuelos said. “This year’s highlight was just doing well in the Pepsi Showdown when we were not ranked high at all.“

With her high school career behind her, Banuelos heads to West Virginia on June 29 for summer school and preseason workouts. Her father went to WVU and her older brother, Jordan, also went there. She will continue the family line at the school and gets to jump right into the college soccer season in the fall.

Bryce Banuelos

School: York

Year: Senior

The West Virginia recruit was York’s top playmaker this spring. Banuelos is quick and skillful on the ball allowing her to torment opposing defenses. Her standout season included all-conference and all-state selections.

Lauren Carroll

School: Willowbrook

Year: Senior

Carroll, who also played for the girls basketball team in the winter, anchored the Warriors’ defense. Her efforts netted her an all-sectional selection this spring.

Jess DeJong

School: Glenbard East

Year: Senior

The North Park-bound senior became a clinical finisher this season and led the Rams with 13 goals. DeJong also had nine assists and was an all-conference and all-sectional selection.

Veronica Fairbairn

School: Glenbard East

Year: Senior

As a four-year starter in goal, Fairbairn tallied up a school record for shutouts with 28. Fairbairn had 10 this season and was a unanimous all-conference pick in the DuPage Valley Conference. The Wisconsin-Whitewater recruit landed an all-sectional nod as well.

Angela Guerino

School: York

Year: Senior

Guerino was the top defender on a York defense that allowed less than a goal per game this season. The senior was a physical player on the back line and got to show off her strong foot by taking long free kicks that helped create chances for the Dukes’ attack.

Alyssa Kovatchis

School: York

Year: Sophomore

The Dukes needed some fire power on offense after losing the top two goal scorers from last season and Kovatchis stepped up into that role. The sophomore, who usually plays midfield, led York in goals and was an all-sectional selection.

K.C. Morris

School: IC Catholic

Year: Senior

The Mizzou recruit joined the high school team this spring and scored 13 goals and had six assists while playing from a defensive midfield position. Morris was deadly on free kicks and showed to be a deadly ball striker while still controlling the tempo of the game in the middle.

Ellie Ordonez

School: York

Year: Senior

Ordonez was a four-year starter for the Dukes despite enduring an injury-riddled career. The senior midfielder was recovering from her third ACL injury this spring and was working her way back into her best form before suffering a fourth torn ACL on senior night. When healthy, Ordonez was an essential part of York’s line-up as an influential midfielder.

Brittany Paganucci

School: Glenbard East

Year: Freshman

The speedy freshman arrived onto the scene in a big way with eight goals and seven assists for the Rams. Paganucci immediately became a dangerous weapon at forward for Glenbard East and will be one of the top talents in the area to watch over the next three years.

Alex Ruffer

School: Glenbard East

Year: Junior

Ruffer emerged as one of the top playmakers in the area with a team-high 17 assists for the Rams. The midfielder also scored eight goals. She was a unanimous all-conference pick in the DuPage Valley Conference and an all-sectional honoree.

Angela Toritto

School: IC Catholic

Year: Senior

Toritto scored a whopping 26 goals and had five assists to lead the Knights in scoring. The speedy forward scored in each of IC’s four playoff wins to help guide the Knights to the second sectional title in school history.

Honorable Mention

Addison Trail: Devin Fruzyna

Glenbard East: Kelly Ravenscraft

Montini: Katelyn Pietras, Valerie Sanchez

Timothy Christian: Sara Hodges, Kaylie Pries

Willowbrook: Tiffany Brinkman

York: Jamie Kovatchis, AnnaBell Lansdowne

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