Girls Soccer: Player of the Year Courtney Raetzman synonymous with Conant’s success

Updated: June 2, 2012 6:46PM

When Courtney Raetzman arrived as a freshman at Conant four years ago, the Cougars’ soccer program had little history or success to draw on.

‘‘The farthest we ever advanced [in the state tournament] was a sectional semifinal,’’ Conant coach Jason Franco said.

The dynamic Raetzman changed everything. The 5-foot forward propelled the Cougars to two state trophies and punctuated her four-year career by scoring 51 goals in her last two seasons.

The 2012 Sun-Times Girls Soccer Player of the Year, a Kentucky recruit, put the Cougars on the map, leading them to a fourth-place finish as a freshman and a third-place trophy last year.

‘‘Just before she came, we hadn’t won a regional in 14 years,’’ Franco said. ‘‘We won a regional all four years she was here.’’

Raetzman relished the chance to get better and do so within the framework of a high school team.

‘‘Over the four years, I’ve grown a lot as a player,’’ she said. ‘‘High school gave me a different environment to play in, and it made me a different player. I’ve had to work harder for stuff.’’

As a junior she recorded 23 goals and 16 assists. This year she scored 28 goals and contributed six assists for the Mid-Suburban West co-champions. After the Cougars graduated their other key offensive players, she subtly changed her game. If in the past she looked to facilitate, she realized the team needed her scoring.

‘‘I was more confident on the ball, and I did more with it,’’ Raetzman said. ‘‘This year, I felt like I had to score more and get those goals. We didn’t have as many people that could do that.’’

Her leadership role was grounded in her actions, not words.

‘‘That’s not her thing to drag other people [vocally],’’ Franco said. ‘‘She set the tone with how she approached everything, in practice, no matter how minor or seemingly insignificant, she took every drill the same. She’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.’’

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