In one sport, Naperville North soccer produces two champs. We take an in-depth look at how the Huskies won both the boys and IHSA girls state championships in one school year.
Accomplishing something that hasn’t been done in a decade, Naperville North is the home to both the boys and girls soccer state trophies.
Katie Murphy: “We watched the boys and we love watching them and at the games we feel so much hype and we think maybe we know what they’re feeling but it’s uncomparable to anything you feel when you’re in that moment.”
Colin Iverson: “I was terrified, I was almost as nervous as I was from them as I was for my own championship. ”
Along with Reilly Riggs, Katie Murphy is a co-captain of the girls team, while Colin Iverson netted the game winning goal in the boy’s state win. Just like their coaches, the euphoria of winning the ultimate prize hasn’t quite worn off.
Steve Goltez: “The excitement is still so fresh and we’ve been a little bit spoiled here in the last few years on the boys side and the run that they’ve put together. I think it’s pushed our girls more than they already are. They’re super driven kids but it’s pushed them to try and have that same experience. ”
Head Coach of the girls team, and assistant on the boys, Steve Goletz works hand in hand with head boys coach Jim Konrad, who’s an assistant for the girsl team.
Jim Konrad: “Coach Goletz is someone I started coaching in eighth grade and to sort of share those coaching experiences with one of my best friends has been truly special. ”
Both coaches have three state championships in their tenure with the Huskies. But they got them in much different ways. Konrad is currently in the midst of a three-peat, while Goletz had to wait for his third.
Jim Konrad: “Steve was fortunate to win two right out of the bat so he didn’t have that miserable existence as a coach wanting to win won for so long, he won one right out of the chute. But what the girls did was special in terms of, just being willing to fight. ”
Reilly Riggs: “They’re definitely an inspiration, the biggest thing is their emphasis on hard work – just work right always. Like Katie said, winning 50/50 balls, tracking runners. Just wanting to win and being the best players we can be. ”
The Making of Champions
The stats bear out how good these two coaches are. Goletz is now 151-21-19 in 8 years, while Konrad has amassed a staggering 276 wins against only 58 losses in 16 seasons. But part of the success is due to the local clubs who cultivate talent, making Naperville a hot-bed for high-level soccer players.
Steve Goletz: “We have so many great clubs in this area, that these kids are playing 9 months out of the year when they’re not with us. I think they relationships between each other within the community and growing up and playing against each other – our games against Neuqua, Waubonsie, Central and Benet – they’re such high level games because the kids want to beat each other so bad because they grew up playing together. ”
That’s best personified by Maddie Schlecht, who, after three years of club, played her seniors year for the Huskies and won the state title game in PKs.
Jim Konrad: “Obviously the western suburbs are blessed with a number of great club programs. Some clubs take kids away from high school and there are other clubs that truly support what we are doing. ”
For his superb play, Iverson was recently named Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of teammates Chris Sullivan and Tommy Welch, who won the prior two seasons. But for him, it’s the ability to revel in the camaraderie with the girls team that is more special.
Colin Iverson: “It was so awesome and funny because I could relate to everything they were doing and saying in the game. It made it so much more enjoyable to watch… Especially with the girls this year, you just can’t compare it to anything else, it’s just so cool to share it with them.”
They’ll share the trophies, the custom-made t-shirts designed by the coaching staff, and (best of all) the memories of conquering high school soccer… together. Something few can say.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman