ELMHURST – The 2017 season had its share of challenges for the Timothy Christian girls soccer team, ranging from a slow start to injuries to a few of the Trojans’ most experienced players.
But at the conclusion of the campaign, the squad was playing at its top level and that is all head coach Jon Hamelinck could ask for.
“We were progressively getting better,” Hamelinck said of his team, which finished with a record of 5-14-1. “We started off pretty rough and we weren’t playing as a unit. But we finished playing our best soccer at the end.”
In fact, Timothy Christian nearly captured a regional championship, losing in penalty kicks to Holy Trinity at the Class 1A event the Trojans hosted.
The contest went to penalty kicks after each team was held scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods.
For much of the match, the home team was the aggressor and they had many near-misses in the closing stages.
Timothy Christian had ended the regular season with its best win of the year, a 6-2 decision over Chicago Christian. Maddie Schaafsma had four goals and two assists in that one and finished the spring with a team-high 21 goals.
“That was definitely the highlight of the season,” Hamelinck said. “We knew they wanted to finish second in the conference (with a win) and we played a great game.”
The biggest obstacle to overcome was injuries. An ankle problem limited senior captain Ali Zeilstra to just a few games after she tore her ACL as a junior. Fellow seniors Nikki Kwasigroch and Kaleigh Bone also missed time.
“We just dealt with a crazy amount of injuries,” the coach said, “and our seniors were the hardest hit.”
All in all, the Trojans lose nine seniors to graduation. Along with Zeilstra, Kwasigroch and Bone, Maddie Monat, Robyn VanStaalduinen, Heather Kocol, Rachel Rink, Livi Helmus and Danielle Beard have all played their last match in a Trojans uniform.
Kocol will continue her soccer career at Calvin College.
“We played well (against Holy Trinity),” Hamelinck said. “I wouldn’t do it any different, I wouldn’t change how they played. Chins up.”
IC CATHOLIC PREP
The Knights began the postseason with a 10-0 win against Wells on May 9 in a regional semifinal in Elmhurst.
The fourth seed in the Downers Grove North sectional, the Dukes will host a Class 3A regional. York opens the playoffs on May 17 against Proviso West and with a win, would face either Fenwick or Willowbrook in the regional final on May 19.