Stephanie Nykaza hopes to learn a lot about her New Trier team this weekend at Oak Park-River Forest’s tournament, which features many of the best teams from this state and the Midwest.
The Trevians will get another opportunity to play Kentucky’s Sacred Heart, one of two teams to beat the Trevians this season. New Trier entered this week 9-2-1 after blanking Glenbard West 8-0 on Friday.
“Winning too much isn’t necessarily the best thing,” said Nykaza, whose club is the two-time defending state champions. “When you play good teams and lose, it forces you to take a hard look at where you are at.”
New Trier isn’t starting over this season, but the Trevians came into the year low on experience. Only four starters returned to the field from last season’s title team, including attacker Virginia Pera, attacker Katherine Weeks, midfielder Kate Hackett and goalie Grace Higgins.
One third of a strong front line last year, Pera, a senior, entered this week with a team-best nine goals, three against Glenbard West.
“She was a key last year,” Nykaza said of Pera, who teamed up with Maggie Campbell and Annie Rojas on the attack. “The three of those girls put together some nice combos.”
After losing Campbell and Rojas, both now playing in college, Nykaza’s been busy figuring out the offense. Natalie Abbott, Brooks Weber and Erin Petry all have been in the mix, along with Weeks.
Petry finally is back on the field after battling injuries. The senior was out last year with a stress fracture in her hip and missed the team’s first 10 games this season with a stress fracture in her foot.
“She’s had some pretty hard things to overcome,” the coach said. “The girl is pretty amazing with how she stuck with it.”
Dana Lewis and Hackett anchor the midfield, while Nykaza rebuilt the defense around Maggie Grady and goalie Higgins. Sarah Kennedy, Courtney Roggekamp and Kelsey Murray all are new to the defense.
“We are skilled and have a lot of speed,” said Nykaza, who’s carrying five sophomores on the roster. “We really have a lot of depth on the team, but we are young. We’re on track, though, and we are where we should be right now.”