Girls Soccer: Contreras hoping to ignite Maine East offenseWheeling- Girls soccer the Wheeling Wildcats host the blue Demons of Maine East . Rachel Ptaszek Maine East lpressures Gina Mazetta Wheeling. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 24, 2012 8:52PM
This year has been a season of change for Maine East girls soccer player Samantha Contreras.
In addition to switching positions, Contreras is finally getting the opportunity to play with Jackie Contreras, her younger sister.
This is the first time the Contreras sisters, who look extremely similar on the field, have played on the same soccer team. The opportunity to play alongside her younger sister has been exhilarating for the junior, yet in moments of frustration it has forced her to try to treat the freshman as a teammate, not her sister.
“I get hard on her because she is my little sister and I want her to do good. We’re learning how to play with each other and not yell at each other on the field,” Contreras said. “It’s fun having her out there, though.”
The Contreras sisters, who Samantha Contreras says “act like twin sisters,” are close off the field, and play near each other on it. They’re often seen running close together — you can tell them apart by their jersey numbers, and the younger Contreras’ bright orange shoes — since Jackie Contreras starts as Maine East’s defensive midfielder and her older sister has transitioned to central midfield this year.
Samantha Contreras played sweeper for Maine East last season, but was switched to center midfield. The change was made to generate more offense for a team which struggled to score during its 0-18 run last year.
“I think she had gotten really comfortable playing sweeper,” Maine East coach Julie Dickinson said. “And now coming up and playing midfield, she’s still trying to figure out her role that way in terms of how she can get the offense going. But she is a good ball distributor and she has a really good shot from the 18 (-yard box), which is why we put her at midfield.”
While Maine East (0-6-1) is now seven games into its season, Contreras is still getting used to playing midfield. Being removed from her comfort zone has been hard, yet the allure of scoring goals — Contreras has two this season — has helped with the change.
Her experience in both roles has also allowed the Blue Demons to become more flexible.
“Over the summer I started playing midfield and (the coaches) made the change,” Contreras said. “They were like, ‘You have better ball control than last year, and we’re trying to switch that up.’ I’m perfectly fine with it. Me and my sweeper Kathy Janik, we’re learning how to play with each other. So if she gets tired, I can always go back to playing sweeper. We’re being versatile in the fact that we can switch back and forth with each other.”
The biggest change facing Samantha Contreras and Maine East is altering the program’s culture. The Blue Demons continue struggling to believe they can win, especially after surrendering the first goal.
One of the primary reasons Maine East is short on confidence is due to its lack of offensive output. The Blue Demons’ attack struggled mightily last year, and they have scuffled at times this season. But they have scored goals — three against Von Steuben, two against Northside Prep — which Contreras hopes can inspire Maine East to keep fighting in games where they fall behind.
“We’re starting to realize that yes we can score goals, and we can come back in a game,” Contreras said.