Feeding Off Strong Girls Basketball Season, Elk Grove Soccer Returns To Success
Elk Grove girls soccer has produced a few professional players over time and was a strong team for a number of years, but hasn’t had much success in recent years in the highly competitive Mid Suburban League.
The Grenadiers stand at 10-6-2 (6-4-1 in MSL) this spring entering the playoffs Wednesday (May 16) as the No. 10 seed against No. 7 Schaumburg at 7 p.m. at Lake Park’s west campus in Roselle.
Dean Burrier Sanchis, in his first year as head coach, has turned the team from a 4-13 squad into a 10-win program as they claimed their first MSL East division title since 2002. The Grenadiers lost in the MSL championship game to Barrington, 2-0, last Wednesday.
“I know it sounds corny, but believing in each other [helped turn the program around],” Sanchis said. “They believed they could change the results they have had in the past. I think they were willing to do whatever was asked of them to get better. Our seniors stepped up and took on different roles to help this team.”
Those senior leaders include all-conference players Emma Slattery, Zoe Blomquist and Amanda Sitkowski. Junior Rachel Kandefer and freshman Alexa Joshi were also honored. Sanchis said it helps that most of his top players compete for club teams in the offseason.
The Grenadiers also had their first MSL East Player of the Year since 2012 (Katie Naughton) when Slattery was honored with the award this year.
Sanchis said he knew Slattery was good, but she exceeded his expectations this year on her way to the honors. Slattery is able to shutdown the other team’s top players while also contributing when a big play is needed, he said.
Sanchis said the girls soccer program rode the momentum of the girls basketball team (15-15 record after going 4-24 a year before) that featured Emma Simmons, Kandefer, Blomquist and Isabella Tierney.
“I think it means everything to have that success carry over. They beat some great teams (in basketball) and we have done the same,” Sanchis said. “We won some big games as well, including beating Fremd for the first time in a while and Buffalo Grove. I think it changes the dynamic and the girls perspective on what they are capable of achieving. I think it has a ripple effect across all our programs.”
Sanchis hopes this is the start of a successful run for the program. While the Grenadiers will graduate some great players, they will also return some strong participants to try and keep the success going into the future.
Kandefer will return in goal next year, which is huge for the program. She put in extra work to get better, and the results show, Sanchis said. The Grenadiers have allowed just 21 goals all season and posted 7 shutouts.