Practice paying off for Downers North

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Downers North has never been a girls soccer power but the Trojans could be a sleeper team this spring.

The Trojans have 13 players who have started at some point in their career and boast three Division I athletes.

That talent asserted itself on Saturday as Downers North rolled over Curie 7-0 at Carstens Field in Downers Grove. Sophomore Bridget Keys, junior Emma Krick and senior Liz Pasieta all scored two goals for the Trojans while Mary Rounce had a goal and Gianna Marconi and Lexi Cittadine had assists.

“I thought we did pretty good with collecting ourselves and getting our chances to score,” Keys said. “We’re really excited and we’re looking forward to some more wins.”

The Trojans (1-1-2) have yet to play at full strength. They are hoping to get starting goalie Izzy Greenblatt (concussion) and senior midfielder Sarah Costello (knee surgery) back within the next two weeks.

Even without them, Downers North’s only loss was a 1-0 decision to defending state runner-up Hinsdale Central, a team that beat them 3-0 last year.

“We’re excited with where we’re at,” Downers North coach Bob Calder said. “We feel like a lot of things are going the right way but the bounces aren’t happening. Today I think opened some of our players’ eyes to the fact that we are certainly better than we were last year.”

The Trojans have an abundance of talented players on offense, led by Colorado State signee Marconi and the Michigan State-bound Rounce. Costello, who will play basketball at Indianapolis, sat out last year but returns after leading the basketball team to a 25-4 record, the best in school history.

Those three combined with Keys, Krick and Cittadine to shred Curie’s defense with well-timed crosses and alert finishes. Three of the goals came on rebounds and the Trojans could have had more if not for the play of Curie goalies Esmerelda Lozano and Daniela Bravo, who combined to make 10 saves.

“We finally worked on some sets,” Calder said. “By our first game we only had five practices outside, so it’s tough to get all the tactical things in. Now we’ve started to get into the situational stuff and it looks like it paid off today.”

Calder is hoping that continues. Young players like Keys figure to benefit if teams focus on stopping Marconi and Rounce, who had scored all four of North’s previous goals.

“I actually think Bridget is going to be our goal scorer of the future,” Calder said. “Bridget certainly has a knack for scoring but this year her role is probably going to be some up front but mostly outside.

“The exciting thing about thinking about this team is up front we have Gianna and Mary, two Division I players, and on the outside we have players like Lexi and Bridget who are future scorers and then in the middle we have Ellie [Metros] and Mary Doro, our captain, and Sarah Costello when she comes back.”

Curie coach Jeff Mikula is confident the Condors (2-2-1) will bounce back from the loss, which he said should benefit the team in the long run.

“On paper it looks like we just got trounced, but at the same time it helps pick up our game for those other teams we’re going to run into in the city,” said Mikula, whose team won the Ridgewood Tournament for the third straight year. “We know we’ve played a higher quality team and if we can pick and be competitive, like we were in the last 10 minutes of this game, we can be competitive against any city team.”

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