Allie Kucera questioned whether she was ready to play varsity soccer as a freshman.
Six weeks later, the only question is whether opposing defenses are ready to stop her.
The Riverside-Brookfield High School forward is enjoying an impressive debut season and is well on her way to establishing herself as one of the best strikers the Bulldogs have ever had.
Kucera scored 12 of her team’s 22 goals through April 27, including two in the Bulldogs’ historic 2-1 victory over Metro Suburban West nemesis Glenbard South in Glen Ellyn.
“It was kind of hard at the start,” Kucera said after that victory. “I felt like I didn’t belong with all the big girls, but they’ve been really good in accepting me and so it feels really good to help the seniors out because I know we all wanted to win this game really bad.”
The win over Glenbard South (5-5-1, 4-1) was the Bulldogs’ first under head coach Danny Makaric. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Raiders had beaten them in seven consecutive matches, including three times in the postseason.
It appeared the April 27 game would turn out the same way as the Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute. But Kucera tied the game in the 18th minute off a feed from Ashley Ferguson and then won it on a beautifully created score with 3:08 remaining in the second half.
The Bulldogs strung together a series of passes, with Ferguson’s long ball springing Fiona Larson free in the right side of the penalty area. Larson calmly settled the ball and passed across the middle to Kucera, whose composed finish belied her nerves.
“That was a perfect ball by Fiona,” Kucera said. “My heart was racing when I saw it coming at me and next thing I knew it was in the back of the net and it was such a relief.
“I’ve heard from the other girls that we’ve lost to them three years in a row and I just wanted to help my seniors out and get the win for us. I put it in the back of the net for them, too.
The result left Makaric with a broad smile on his face.
“We feel pretty good after three or four years not being able to beat them,” Makaric said. “Every game they beat us somehow.”
But Makaric had a good feeling before the match.
“It was just a matter of time,” Makaric said. “I felt very comfortable today. From beginning to end, I didn’t have one second of doubt that we were going to [win] this game.”
Makaric didn’t doubt that Kucera would make an impact for the Bulldogs (8-5, 2-2), who have won six of their last seven matches following a 1-0 win over Lake Forest Academy April 28. The Bulldogs closed out last week with a 3-1 conference loss to St. Edward and an 8-0 victory over Maine East at the Lake Forest Academy Invite on Saturday.
“Allie is an awesome player,” Makaric said. “If everything goes the right way, she can be a first division college player, no question about it.
“She is using her left foot, she already knows how to cut, we’re working in practice with her. She’s a good listener and from the first day when I saw her in school to now, she has improved so much.”
The same goes for the Bulldogs, who in their first several games against larger schools struggled to get the ball up to Kucera. Now that they are doing that on a regular basis, Kucera has used her superior strength and speed to wreak havoc.
“Our fitness level is higher but we’re also working really well as a team,” Kucera said. “We have more chemistry and we’re working better together.”