Girls Soccer: Conant holds off St Charles North

Updated: March 15, 2012 9:44PM

She is magic in the open field, a dynamic and creative playmaker. Conant senior forward Courtney Raetzman also had a personal score to settle with St. Charles North.

Two years ago, the North Stars blasted the Cougars 5-0 in a Class 3A sectional game, denying Raetzman and the rest of the Cougars a chance to earn a second consecutive state tournament final. As a freshman, Raetzman started on a team that finished fourth in the Class AA state tournament.

“I don‘t know about the rest of the girls, but that game was on my mind a lot,” Raetzman said. “Revenge is a very good motivator.”

Raetzman scored two goals and the host Cougars (2-0) stymied several North Stars’ scoring opportunities in the second half in Conant’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory Thursday night in Hoffman Estates.

All the scoring occurred in the first half.

A Kentucky-recruit, Raetzman has already massed four goals in just two games. “It’s a good way to start the season,” she said. “It was very good to have a chance to play against a great team this early.”

This spring’s edition is poised for a potentially breakthrough run. Coach Jason Franco has seven starters returning from last year’s 21-5-1 team that finished third in the Class 3A state tournament. Raetzman registered 23 goals and 16 assists last year as the team’s offensive catalyst.

“It was great just getting there,” Franco said. “Only one team can win a state championship, so sure we’re motivated to get back there, but we also have some other things we want to accomplish.

“We’ve never won a conference championship. We’ve won our division [of the Mid-Suburban] but we’ve never won the crossover. Last year we lost to Hersey in the conference title.”

St. Charles North junior forward Natalie Winkates staked the North Stars (1-1) to the early lead. Raetzman is small though ferocious and tough. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on and developing my skill set and using my speed to make up for that fact I don’t do very much in the air,” she said.

Franco has blended the returning players with some very talented freshmen and sophomores. Keeper Hailey Anderson, a freshman, recorded four saves, including punching a ball off a North Stars’ corner with just under four minutes to play. She also made a diving stop late in the first half that turned away another North Star scoring chance.

Senior defender Kelsey Foss said the quick adjustment of the newcomers to the group of experienced players is the key to the team’s early growth. “We’re very motivated right now,” she said. “We came in early during the off-season and worked out very hard.

“We lost eight seniors from last year, but already, the coaches have done a great job of mixing the new girls with the players from last year,” she said.

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