Girls soccer team, moving to 2A next year, excited for competition

Girls soccer team, moving to 2A next year, excited for competition

On Friday, May 12th, 2023, the DePaul Prep girls varsity soccer team was crowned regional champions of 1A after an 11-0 win against Lycee Francais. The team went 20-1-2 in the regular season (3-0-1 in conference). These victories were largely due to “knowing the boundary of when to be serious and when to have fun”, according to junior captain Dylan Greene.

Although the girls fell to Immaculate Conception College Prep in the sectional finals, they haven’t given up hope for improvement next season and continue to be striving for excellence both mentally and physically. 

Team chemistry is in abundance for the players, with a mix of girls in all four grades. Junior Ellie Glunz noted that “team bonding was really good. Last year it took a little bit longer for the team to get connected, but I think we ended on such a strong note last season that it started right at the beginning of this year.” 

Head coach Tim O’Reilly has been coaching soccer at DePaul Prep for the past five years and feels that team bonding is essential to success. 

“Their mental approach and the way they supported each other really made this a uniquely memorable season for me. This is one I’ll always remember,” he stated.

This is assistant coach Kelly Keckler’s second season with the girls’ team. She looks up to O’Reilly in many ways and hopes she can be a role model to her players. 

“O’Reilly and I have a lot of differing views, which I think makes us a great duo. We’re really learning a lot from each other and we had an incredible season. I’m honored and grateful to be his sidekick,” Keckler said.

Because of the school’s increasing enrollment in recent years, the girls soccer team will move up to the 2A Division next year and face schools including Lane Tech and Saint Ignatius College Prep. However, both coaches are up to the challenge and unafraid of what they may face in a new, bigger division.

“Some of the teams that we’ll play next year will be a big challenge, but I think the girls are looking forward to it,” O’Reilly said.

Keckler’s “never satisfied” attitude was evidenced in her prediction of next season: “I think our girls need to be humbled. I don’t want games [where we win 14-0] anymore. Every single game [we] should be locked in and ready to go.” 

Players are also looking forward to what the 2A Division may bring for DePaul Prep in terms of making sure the team isn’t underestimated in their abilities.

“I’m excited,” said Greene. “I think [moving up] makes other people take us seriously. We’re not really on the map, so I think this’ll help for that.”

Although soccer requires high levels of physical capability, the mental aspect was not overlooked by the girls this year.

“The difference between the top teams and the middle teams is the psychological side of the game,” said O’Reilly. “We would meditate before games. Visualization is actually a very common practice in soccer, but [it was] something that most of our girls hadn’t experienced yet.” 

Similarly, Keckler hopes to achieve “a little more seriousness” next year, stating she loves the energy that the team brings but wants to make sure the team doesn’t let their guard down when facing tougher opponents in the future.

Freshman Kaitlin Reap described O’Reilly’s meditation sessions as beneficial, helping her “get ready and really lock in” for the competition she faced as a defender.

Although the 2023 season has come to a close, the players and coaches are just getting started for what they will face next year.