New faces and new places for New Trier football, which starts 2-0-1
As a drizzle turned to moderate rain on Wednesday March 23, the New Trier women’s football match became increasingly threatened.
Coaches and officials analyzed the radar readings, and parents and fans crowded under the concession’s pavilion. Trevians players, however, didn’t know what was going on.
They were too wrapped up in their pregame routine: dancing like maniacs in an equipment shed.
“You can hear it now. Everyone is dancing with all their hearts,” senior Ava Shah said. “Everyone is themselves and everyone’s fun, quirky personality shines through. … Once we come to practice and get together, we are one big family. That’s what I love about it.
The “it” is New Trier’s women’s football culture, a significant contributor to the success of the program which includes seven consecutive sectional championships – and 15 in the last 18 seasons.
Shah and fellow senior Kendall Sierens said culture will play an even bigger role this season, as the Trevians incorporate a host of new players not only to the roster but also to the starting line-up.
New Trier (2-0-1) is three games into the season, and coach Jim Burnside said early on the team was starting three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, including goaltender Caroline Hague — “That doesn’t happen too often in New Trier,” he said.
“We got nine diplomas (from last year’s team). A lot of those girls saw minutes, but few saw meaningful minutes,” Burnside said. “The key is that we learn and we learn fast enough.
“It’s a great athletic group. I hope this will be one of the greatest growth experiences we have seen.
The new-look Trevians started the season with a 1-1 draw against Warren on March 15, followed by a 2-1 victory against Prospect on March 17, courtesy of goals from Josie Noble and Nora Westol. Two days later, on March 19, Sierens, junior Sofia Palmer, second Clara Deliduka and second Charlotte Dellin scored one goal each in a 4–1 win over Palatine. Wednesday’s game against St. Ignatius has been canceled.
Sierens is happy with the team’s start and believes they are where they need to be at the start of the season.
“We really try to focus on bringing new people into everything and making sure everyone understands our system,” she said. ” It was great. I feel like we are becoming one as a team.
A commitment from Denison College, Sierens will lead the offensive attack, along with Liz Marquardt and Noble, among others. Shah and Dellin highlight Trevs’ defensive backfield.
Both Sierens and Shah have said they want to be leaders by example in their respective positions.
“I went through the whole program with incredible role models and now I have to be a role model for other football payers and encourage everyone to step up,” Shah said.
With new players and old players in new places, Burnside said the team had to learn to play as a unit.
This means smart, possessive football that limits the time the opponent touches the ball.
“We have to play 11 players,” he said. “We talk to kids a lot about the fact that if you play as 11 – really as 11 – you really equal 13, as opposed to a team of 11 not really playing together. You can somehow leverage your team and your efforts by being a cohesive group. This is the key.
New Trier will travel to St. Louis over spring break, playing one game on April 1 and another on April 2. Conference play will begin when the Trevs return with a home game against Maine South on April 5.
While New Trier won a section last season, they failed to reach the national final for the first time since 2013.
Sierens believes the Trevians can get back there, but that’s not the only goal.
“It’s sticking to our culture, rebuilding and just having fun. That’s really what we’re looking for,” she said. “We have a lot of small goals, but we want to win and compete, and always end of the season (the goal) is to win the state. But it is a result objective. So we just try to do our best and compete. If this happens, we will succeed.