ST. CHARLES – A rain-soaked pitch couldn’t diminish all of what Sophia Hein and Julianna Park can bring to the table.
Park, the St. Charles North sophomore midfielder, put the finishing touch on the North Stars’ 6-0 season-opening victory over Neuqua Valley on Saturday with her first goal of the season late in the second half.
The North Stars (1-0) scored five times in the first half. Hein had two goals, which were also complimented by tallies from Bella Najera, Leah Bellock and Sidney Timms.
“I think [Park] has grown a tremendous amount in the offseason,” North Stars coach Brian Harks said. “Obviously, she was a talented player as a freshman last year. She was very skilled on the ball.
“This year, I would say strength, confidence and vision have been noticeably next level. It was fantastic to see her hold her ground; hold her defender off, and then with composure, find the back of the net. So, that’s something that, the growth – physical and mental maturity – has been really nice.”
Hein sees Park as “one of the strongest competitors we have out here.”
“[Park] just came out here with energy,” Hein said. “…she’s kind of a spark on the field. No matter [if] she gets the ball on her feet; she has her head up, looking to make passes. She’s looking to make a difference. If she makes a mistake, she fixes it immediately and she just has so much energy.”
Park, who also feels like she came off a strong freshman season, is looking to expand upon that role with goal scoring and more.
Hein, on the other hand, is a four-year varsity veteran.
“It was a great feeling,” Hein said on her two-goal start. “This is my last year, so I want to come out here and make the best of it. It was really important for me to start off on a good note because the way we start, it kind of sets the tone, so I just wanted to come out strong and lead my team to victory.”
“I think a lot of the things I just said about Park you can say about a lot of the players on the team,” Harks said. “[Hein] included. Hein is just playing with a confidence that [perhaps] wasn’t there [in previous seasons]. As a result, the physical play is improved because the confidence.”
Neuqua Valley (0-2) chose a highly challenging start to the season schedule-wise beginning with state powerhouse Barrington and the North Stars, who made a sectional final last season.
“…[St. Charles North is] a good team. They had good speed,” Neuqua Valley coach Joe Moreau said. “We have some returners. It’s just early in the season; going up against Barrington and St. Charles North in your first two games, those are top teams…we’re not unhappy with our girls at all. We gave up five goals: They were two corner kicks that were bending in and super tough and three strong [finishes].”
Source: The Daily Chronicle