On a roster loaded with experience, Monica Ramirez is the girl St. Edward soccer coach Tim Brieger calls “our motor.”
“We go through her. She makes it all happen,” Brieger said. “When she’s on, it opens up Corey (Lepoudre) on the flank and everybody else. If Monica is on, our whole game is on.”
The Green Wave attack was humming Tuesday in Wheaton, Ramirez and Allison Kruk both scoring goals in a dominating 3-0 win over St. Francis.
St. Edward has 53 wins since 2011, and a senior class that includes Ramirez, Lepoudre and Kruk are a big reason why. The Green Wave, which lost in a supersectional last year and sectional final two years ago, want to make a return to Class 1A state after taking fourth in 2011.
Ramirez, slowed by a hip injury last year, especially.
“We have very high expectations,” Ramirez said. “For a lot of us, this is our last chance. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time, not look too far into the future.”
St. Edward controlled play from the start, but missed a few opportunities early. Lepoudre, a 10-goal scorer last year, was wide on a pair of left-footed kicks from the corner.
Finally, in the 29th minute, Alex Zeller found Ramirez open behind the St. Francis defense, and she blasted in a straightaway shot over the keeper from 20 yards out.
“Alex and I, we work really well together, we play club together,” Ramirez said. “She was dribbling down, I saw a little gap at the top of the box and girls swarming her. It was wide open in the front, I called for her it, she knows exactly how I like to play it. One touch, back of the net.”
Ramirez nearly scored again in the 34th minute, cleverly dribbling through two defenders, but a shot from in close was wide off the keeper.
The Green Wave (4-1) , whose only loss came to St. Charles East on Saturday, made it 2-0 with a goal just over two minutes before halftime. After a St. Francis foul, Kruk planted the penalty kick in the left corner for her 49th career goal, second-most in program history.
“We were playing a little heavy and long, and not connecting on passes, but we were able to gather ourselves,” Brieger said. “I thought we were finally able to establish what we wanted to and it opened up opportunities.”
St. Francis’ best chance to score may have come in the 32nd minute. Sarah Salemy streaked behind the St. Edward defense, but Green Wave keeper Paige Dykstra knocked away an attempt.
St. Francis dropped to 0-4. Spartans coach Jim Winslow, already fielding a young team, is missing two likely starters with ankle injuries and two more with mono.
“(St. Edward) is confident and aggressive, all the things we are not right now,” Winslow said. “We’re struggling right now. You’re talking four to five kids we’re missing who would play significant minutes. But these things run in cycles.”