LOMBARD – Glenbard East displayed the growth of its girls soccer program throughout this season, but some hurdles still remain for the Rams.
York beat the Rams 2-1 in a regional final in Lombard on May 23. Glenbard East came in as the favored No. 4 seed, but the No. 5 Dukes scored once in each half and only conceded a penalty kick scored by Alex Ruffer in the final minute of the match.
Despite setting school records for wins (16), shutouts (14), goals scored (84) and fewest goals allowed (16) and producing the program's first Division I player (Western Michigan-bound Ruffer), the Rams failed to win the school's first regional title.
"If you win a regional then that means you put together two quality games in the state tournament and we've just never had that," coach Kent Overbey said. "That's going to continue to be a goal."
Alyssa Kovatchis scored on a long shot in the 17th minute and Katherine Leonard scored on a rebound an hour into the match to give York a 2-0 lead before Ruffer's late goal. Ruffer finished the season with 20 goals and 22 assists.
The senior class was Ruffer, a four-year varsity player, and three-year varsity players Taylor Hallcox and Kelly Ravenscraft.
"On the one hand, we're losing three players next year and we return 15," Overbey said. "On the other hand, those are three important players for the last four years.
"It's hard to replace [Ruffer] in the center. We've got some younger girls in both Megan Mrazek and Corey Ewoldt that can step in there. We'll hopefully reload instead of rebuild, but we'll have some holes to fill."
Those three seniors have been essential to the Rams' development. Now they hand the keys over to a deep junior class.
"We had 10 juniors this year and they're all going to be playing together again next year," Ruffer said. "Since I had four years on varsity I kind of saw everyone move up. We just kept getting better."
The Rams' schedule will continue to get tougher as well. The move from the DuPage Valley Conference to the Upstate Eight won't provide any breaks in terms of quality opponents. St. Charles North, St. Charles East and Geneva are all strong programs and powerful teams Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley are still in the UEC for one more year before heading to the DVC.
In addition, Glenbard East will keep both Naperville Central and Naperville North on the schedule in nonconference games and join the loaded PepsiCo Showdown.
"I think the best part about this senior class is for the rest of the program and for the varsity team they've instilled the idea that we can play with any team," the coach said. "Four years ago when it was time to play the Napervilles, people expected an outcome that we didn't want. It's been a big change and hopefully we continue to build on it."
Sports to your phone
Visit http://shawurl.com/texts to sign up and receive sports scores and alerts from Suburban Life.