We wonder, where are they now, and find out where Naperville Central alum Maggie Hillman is now and how she’s faring in her soccer career.
Few areas in the country have as many great girls soccer programs as Naperville. In the past decade alone, four of our six high schools have made a state championship game while all six have won multiple regional championships. So it should come as no surprise that dozens of area girls have gone on to play Division I soccer.
2017 Naperville Central grad Maggie Hillman is one of those D-1 athletes, spending the last three seasons at the University of Illinois. Before putting on the orange and blue, Hillman played club soccer exclusively with Team Chicago as a freshman and sophomore. In the spring of 2016, she joined the Redhawks as a starting midfielder for her junior season.
Soaring with the Redhawks
Her impact was immediate as the 2016 Central team won 14 games including the program’s first regional plaque since 2011. Hillman was named a team captain in 2017, playing the season alongside younger sister Abby. Central went on to another double digit win season before a heartbreaking regional final loss to West Aurora.
Orange and Blue
Joining the University of Illinois roster in the fall of 2017, Hillman saw many former conference rivals suddenly become teammates. This included Neuqua Valley grads Haley Singer, Lauren Ciesla and Olivia Schmitt, along with Elizabeth Cablk and Katlyn Buescher from Naperville North. Just a few of the Naperville alumni competing in the Big Ten Conference. So many familiar faces made the transition into college soccer an easy one.
Hillman has seen increased playing time year after year, earning five starts at midfield as a freshman, 12 as a sophomore and 17 as a junior in 2019. Last season Maggie set a career high with two goals, including the game winner against a ranked Pepperdine team. She also tied for fifth on the team in total points with five.
Senior Season on Pause
At the moment, Maggie Hillman and her Fighting Illini teammates are, like most fall sport athletes in the Big Ten, Pac 12 and various other conferences, in a holding pattern thanks to COVID-19 concerns. The women’s soccer season has been postponed to the spring of 2021, leaving Hillman’s senior year in limbo. However, the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to fall athletes affected by these postponements. The former Redhawk says whether it’s this spring or next fall, she desires a sense of closure for her career.
Regardless of how her journey ends, Maggie Hillman has already accomplished so much in her soccer career. And like those who came before her at Naperville Central, including Casey Short of the Chicago Red Stars, she is very proud to be a part of the talented Naperville soccer pipeline.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.
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