Girls Soccer: Young Mundelein squad pointing to future
Glenview Monday May 14 2012 Mundelein's Cristy Nambo (14) Carmel's Katie Sandecki (4) followed by Mundelein's Kaila Cancelli (10)| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 10:00AM
In sports, it’s possible to have productive losses, during which lessons are learned.
This was the case several times this year for the Mundelein girls soccer team, including a 2-0 regional semifinal loss to Carmel on May 15.
The Mustangs (6-13-2) created chances, exposing the outside flanks where there was room to attack. But Mundelein was unable to convert on those chances, and Carmel — a veteran, deeper team — prevailed.
“We played a good game,” said Mundelein coach Ernie Billittier. “The girls executed what we wanted to do. We got deep and created opportunities. Hopefully, our young players can build on that experience.”
And the Mustangs have plenty of youth. Only one player graduates — four-year vet Kelsey Hiegel — and the rest of the roster features 16 freshmen, sophomores and juniors combined.
All season long, Mundelein’s lack of experience revealed itself early in games. The Mustangs were a much better second-half team.
“In the second half, we had the better run, playing pass-oriented, changing to the point-of-attack style of play we want,” Billittier said. “Those were encouraging (signs) to me.”
Freshman starters were Michelle Chernesky and Megan Carroll. Other freshman contributors were Christy Nambo, Shannon Carroll and Jessica Schultz. Sophomores Kaila Cancelli and Jasmine Ader — along with juniors Gaby Miranda, Stephanie Johnson and McKenna Joy — form a solid core for next season.
Goalkeeper Cristina Loverde also had a strong first year, allowing two goals per game. But when the offense is averaging just one goal …
“Some games, where we scored a lot, it was against small opponents,” Billittier said. “In games against tougher teams, we couldn’t score. If we can find someone who can put the ball in the net consistently, we’ll have a better year.”
Off the notepad: One area in which the Mustangs can improve regards offseason work. Billittier, who was an all-state player at Mundelein and played college soccer at the University of Massachusetts, heads into his first full offseason as head coach.
He encourages his players to compete on club and travel teams. Several players have already tried out for area travel teams, such as Warren United and the Hawthorn Woods Elite Soccer Club.
“Where do you see yourself in three years? What type of player do you want to be?” Billittier mused. “You can’t just rely on training with the team. How you get better is individual work. We stress player development and training outside of practice.”
With so much competition in the NSC — Lake Forest, Stevenson and Lakes won regional titles — Mundelein must put in the time if the Mustangs plan to gain a foothold.
“We play the bigger schools,” Billittier said. “We will need to get the training to compete at a high level in the conference and make a run in the state series.”