Morton junior midfielder Jackie Murillo takes an unselfish approach to playing soccer.
Instead of dominating the ball, Murillo elects to spread the wealth and often tries to direct a pass to an open teammate.
She learned the trait by playing point guard for the basketball Mustangs.
Morton girls soccer coach Jim Bageanis said he often tries to unlock Murillo’s unselfish trait in games.
“Jackie’s a very unselfish player,” he said. “We have to tell her to shoot. She’s willing to give up the ball more than shoot the ball. Jackie has been playing really well for us in the midfield. She controls the ball for us, gets in a lot of one-on-ones and causes the defense to get to her and she also plays a nice play. She’s a playmaker.”
Now in her third season on the varsity, Murillo said she tends to take her experiences from the hardwood onto the pitch. She admitted to being pleased with her play in the winter in basketball.
“I’m just focused on the ball, to see where it’s going in soccer, just like in basketball,” she said. “I can see the court and put the ball in certain situations, and I try and have the mindset in soccer.”
Murillo has scored three goals this season for the Mustangs (6-2). Morton suffered a 2-1 loss to Jacobs in the PepsiCo Showdown on April 7 in Schaumburg. Bageanis said Murillo is a vital player for Morton’s quest to top last season’s 16-win total.
“Jackie’s one of our leaders this year,” he said. “She controls the middle for us, plays defense as hard as she’ll play offense. That’s what helps us in the middle, keeps our shape in the middle. She’s see if we’re out of balance and will hold for another midfielder or somebody else.”
With over 120 girls in the program, Morton is always a team to watch in the playoffs. The Mustangs’ varsity roster consists of five seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen, so leadership is crucial due to the mix, Bageanis said.
Murillo understands the importance of quality leadership after being unexpectedly promoted to the varsity at the start of her freshman year. She said her experience taught her the importance of helping the eight underclassmen to aid Morton’s play in the second half of the season.
“My first year was really good because the [older] girls worked with me,” Murillo said. “I was really nervous at first because I didn’t expect to be on varsity so soon, but they welcomed me. Coach also put me in right away in the first game. I was surprised but that gave me confidence because coach believed in me and trusted me. I now just want our team to do well and go far in state.”