North Stars blank Hawks to remain unbeaten
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By Darryl Mellema
Experimentation is still ongoing at St. Charles North, where the team is in the process of being fine-tuned on a match-by-match basis.
Despite the changes, the North Stars keep winning and turning in solid performances.
That trend continued on Tuesday, when North defeated Bartlett 3-0 in an Upstate Eight Conference match in St. Charles.
The latest win also keeps the North Stars (7-0, 6-0 Upstate Eight) undefeated for the year.
"They were a very good team," St. Charles North senior Leah DeMoss said. "We were expecting a good game from them.
"They had a very good keeper and a good defensive line and fast forwards. It was a good game for us."
To the casual observer, the fact that the lineup was being shifted around would hardly have been noticeable.
The hosts passed fluidly, created far more chances than the three they finished and were only occasionally threatened defensively.
"We actually were looking at a new formation tonight," North coach Ruth Vostal said. "We were looking at Sammy (Gage) out of the midfield.
"I think we were just trying to see how we look with different personnel in different positions. I was pleased to see how we did."
On a team with a number of creative forces, DeMoss stood out against Bartlett.
She assisted on the first two goals - both scored by Paige Dusek. Then DeMoss headed home an Alyssa Peterson cross for North's third goal.
"It was one of those momentum things," DeMoss said. "The lights, I guess I was just feeling it."
Performances like Tuesday's are just a continuation in the development of DeMoss, who will play soccer for the University of Iowa this fall.
"I feel like my freshman and sophomore years, I was undecided if I wanted to play in college or not," DeMoss said.
"My junior year and going into my senior year, I really got down to working on my technical skills and strength and conditioning.
"I wanted to make senior year a good one, so I trained really hard for it."
Certainly the signs of DeMoss' improvement have been gradual over her four years in high school.
But she now stands at the pinnacle of her sport, one of the best in the area and the state.
"As a freshman player, you saw that raw talent," Vostal said. "Now she's refined. She's quick, she's fast and she's creative in the box.
"But she's also smart. I think that's the biggest thing that's developed is her composure."
The thing is that DeMoss is hardly alone. Dusek is potent offensively.
Peterson and Lauren Koehl provide depth offensively and Gage fitted in perfectly in a midfield role on Tuesday.
So while teams certainly focus attention on DeMoss, they cannot forget the North Stars' other attacking players because each has the ability to be devastating at any moment.
"People know who (DeMoss) is and they are going to mark her," Vostal said.
"Her ability to make assists is probably going to happen more than her ability to score goals. And she's still scoring goals.
"But I look at the number of people behind her, and there are people she can distribute the ball to."
Knowing the talent that surrounds her helps DeMoss create in the same way that same talent helps create goal scoring chances for her.
"What's nice about this team is that we have a lot of people who can score," DeMoss said. "It's not just me scoring or (Dusek) scoring.
"But you look and Alecia (Natale) is scoring or Kelli (Alderman) scoring or (Peterson) or Kirsten (Brown.) It's a nice thing. We got some good shooting opportunities."
Dusek played more centrally against Bartlett and teamed with Dusek well for the first two goals.
"She started a little slow and we told her she had to pick it up," Vostal said.
"She's a player who, when she plays with emotion, you see the difference in her intensity."
North faces Divine Savior Holy Angels from Milwaukee on Saturday.
The two-time defending Division 1 girls soccer champion in Wisconsin, the Dashers are the top-ranked team in Wisconsin this year and are ranked in the national Top 20 as well.
"I'm excited," Vostal said. "I know what I know about them by reading the paper and from what I've seen of them in the past.
"I know it's going to be a good game and a great step to see where we are before we go to Neuqua."
The North Stars travel to Neuqua Valley for their toughest Upstate Eight test to date on Tuesday.
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