Boy Scott Taylor
For the Bugle
Downers Grove North had a youth movement a couple of years ago with several talented players getting varsity experience.
Now, those players are juniors and seniors and have led the Trojans on a run to the top seed in their own sectional complex.
“The program used to not be the best, so the past three to four years we’ve been really working to build up the program,” senior forward Emily Redpath said. “The seniors have been together for three years and we’ve built a lot of chemistry.”
“We’ve been playing together for a long time,” senior midfielder Maggie Neverly said. “Some of us have been playing together since nine or 10 years old. We came in together as freshmen and sophomores and we have played in a lot of big games together and I think that big game experience will help us in the playoffs.”
Even with the veteran team returning, the Trojans have still caught people by surprise.
“When we came into the season, expectations from the outside weren’t very high, but within the program they were high,” Redpath said. “We knew coming in we had a really solid group of juniors and seniors and we pulled up some underclassmen who have really helped. Now we’re playing from the top looking down and we have to keep the expectations going and play our hardest no matter who we play.”
Despite being the top seed, it is hard to pencil DGN in to the sectionals as it will have to likely get past No. 6 seed Downers South in a regional final at Downers South at 6 p.m. Friday.
Downers South faced off with No. 9 seed Whitney Young Tuesday.
“Hopefully we will win our sectional, but we have to win the regional first,” Redpath said. “That is the first goal for us to get. We’re really excited to host the sectional.”
“We have some pressure,” Neverly said. “It is easy being the underdog. We have high expectations for us going in.”
The two crosstown rivals faced each other early in the season with the game ending in a 1-1 tie.
“It is exciting,” Neverly said. “I like big games like that. To have a crosstown game at South’s field would be huge for the community. It should be a good game.”
“I’m so excited for that,” junior midfielder Abby Swanson said. “We’re so ready for a rematch. We’ve come so far this season. We keep improving as a team and want to face them again to see how far we’ve come and it is a perfect opportunity to do it.”
If the Trojans are able to get past the Mustangs, they would play the sectional games at home, which should be a big boost.
“It would be huge for our community to play at home for our sectional,” Swanson said. “It would bring the community out and it is encouraging.”
The Trojans feel they are playing their best soccer as the offense has picked up steam in recent weeks, including scoring eight goals against Plainfield Central.
“I think we’re playing some good soccer,” Neverly said. “We’re making a lot of combination plays and playing together as a team. It’s exciting. We have a lot of talent.”
“We started the season working on having a strong back,” Swanson said. “Lately our focus has been the attacking third and how to use combination plays to get through and I think it is working well. Everyone is where they need to be.”
Teamwork will be a big key to the playoff success for the Trojans.
“We have to stay together as a unit,” Redpath said. “If we do face adversity, we have to pick each other up. We have to try to win as a team.”
“I think all of us need to trust each other and keep doing what we’re doing,” Swanson said. “We have to stay focused during the games and stay together.”