Considering the difficult non-conference schedule the Riverside-Brookfield High School girls soccer team takes on each spring, the best way to objectively analyze its progress is in two parts.
For example, while the Bulldogs won only three of 14 games in nonconference action and finished 8-12 overall in 2013, the team also recorded a 5-1 record last year within the Metro Suburban Conference.
RBHS coach Danny Makaric believes the experience of playing tough teams early in the season always benefits his team in the long run. This season, the Bulldogs will face Hinsdale Central, Oak Park, Morton, Maine South and Lake Park among other solid nonconference teams.
“We play eight games against Class 3A schools,” Makaric said. “We’re going to lose some games, but it will make us stronger, better. I like to play bigger schools and play tough teams to get a good sense of the kind of team we have. It’s a good way to see our strengths and weakness and it prepares us well for conference.”
The Bulldogs are off to a slow start this spring with an 0-3 record. In three games, RBHS has been outscored 13-1. Per his coaching strategy, the inherently optimistic Makaric believes the Bulldogs’ best days are on the horizon.
“We think this is our year to win conference,” Makaric said. “Glenbard South lost a lot of key players. Our goals are to be conference and regional champions. We host a regional this season, and the home field advantage always gives us extra spirit. We also have a lot of our big conference games at home this year so that should benefit us.”
RBHS returns multiple all-conference players in midfielder/forward Ashley Ferguson, midfielder Lia Sanchez, midfielder Amy Zyck, defender Caroline Waas and defender Meaghan Dorsey.
A talented freshman class of Kathyrn Sessler, Esther Annoreno, Ivy Marcucci and Briana Sanchez provide depth for the Bulldogs. The freshmen all played in the feeder program, Chicago Inter, for RBHS.
“The freshmen are very skilled technically,” Makaric. “They are the future of our team.”
While Makaric has flourished as the boys soccer coach at RBHS with six conference championships, two regional titles and two sectional finals appearances, he’s still laying the foundation for the girls program.
Since taking over the girls program, the Bulldogs have finished second twice in the Metro Suburban Conference standings.
“I think the third [season] will be the lucky one for us to win conference,” Makaric said. “With the girls, it’s a little harder to build a good program. We have record numbers this year, 70 girls in our program. A lot of them only play soccer for two months during the school season. We’re hoping to get more girls playing the sports year-round.”