CHICAGO – The Jones faithful gave their seniors an extraordinary experience Wednesday.
A big crowd, filled with a mix of parents and supporters, contributed to the memorable afternoon.
And the Eagles, especially the seniors, didn’t disappoint.
A large and dedicated group of parents rolled out the red carpet for the Senior Night honorees at the home game against Curie.
The nine seniors – Caroline Patterson, Jackie DeMille, Mia McRoberts, Carolina Rondelli, Patricia Felder, Mari Hamada, Patricia Felder, Morgan Scott and Sanai Wright – greeted every spectator that entered the complex. All nine had a small fathead-like headshot lined up on the back side of the main entrance black fence with five small inflatable soccer balls tied to it.
During the game, several parents brought snacks, pizza, a cake and refreshments set on a table outside the northern edge of the field, where more inflated soccer balls and a big Party City bag were in view.
The game was definitely a party for Jones – an 8-0 win over Curie that clinched the Chicago Public League Premier Division South title.
The Eagles (10-6-0, 5-0-0) celebrated their seniors postgame. Near midfield, two columns of players lined up five yards apart with three more forming an end point. Then, one by one, the nine seniors were introduced and walked to the end of the group of teammates to receive a rose and loud cheers from the large throng of fans, coaches, players and students.
After the senior acknowledgements ended, another line formed – at the food table. There, the seniors were at the front of the line, standing together waiting to take a group picture by the cake.
That’s where the only issue of afternoon occurred for the Eagles. Hamada, a key defender, was nowhere to be found. Several players and parents starting yelling “Mari” over and over. Nearly a minute later, Hamada raced from the sidelines to be with her teammates, and the photos were snapped.
During the game, McRoberts was the center of attention. The Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match scored a first half hat-trick. Her final goal was a bullet shot into the far corner in the 39th minute.
“The third goal was my favorite, because it was probably the best one I had overall. The second goal was in slow motion, so I liked the third one,” McRoberts said. “The season is not over, so it hasn’t hit me yet this is my last season. We played well today, connecting passes and getting along. We seem to be turning things around.
“This is an awesome experience, and I’m so happy everyone did this for the seniors.”
Felder closed out the scoring with her goal late in the second half. It lead to a large round of applause from the crowd following nearly 20 minutes of scoreless play.
“The goal felt great on Senior Night,” Felder said. “We’ve all been looking forward to this game since our sophomore year. We’re super close, so this is really special. This game provided momentum for us, because we’ve had a couple of rough games. The morale is really high now and should help us in the playoffs.”
Rondelli said the game was a smashing success on all fronts.
“It was super fun today,” Rondelli said. “Everyone had motivation, but we’re also smiling and laughing, and it was a ton of fun. We were just happy, just running and wanting to score more. Everyone helped each other, which made us not as tired.
“A lot of classes have a lot of seniors, but this group is really tight. We’ve grown to be really close. It’s an amazing group. We know we have a lot of potential and can win the city playoffs.”
Jones coach Derek Bylsma was honored to acknowledge the large senior class. He was pleased with the performance.
“We wanted to come out and win the game to win conference. It was Senior Night, and this was an important warmup for the rest of the season,” he said. “We talked about playing with a lot of energy and playing well. We did that.
“We have a senior-heavy team. We got to play them a lot, and a lot of them scored goals. I was very happy with the way we played.
“We really want to be playing our best soccer of the year right now. I feel we are. We go into the city playoffs next week. Mia McRoberts had a great game, and Caroline Rondelli also played well. We had several players do well.
“This team has the capability to be really good. When we play well and stay locked in for an entire game, I like our chances, and we are very dangerous. I like our odds to make a run at city and state.
“We have to be locked in the entire game and not have any letdowns. That’s hurt us this year. That’s what we’re working on. Talent-wise, we are great, but we have to be mentally ready to play every game and be locked in. The girls are playing hard and playing good team defense and looking for the open balls and trying to possess the ball.”
Jones scored three goals in the first eight minutes and led 7-0 at halftime. In fitting fashion, on Senior Day, the Class of ’23 sparked the offense.
Forward McRoberts’ hat-trick and assist, midfielder Rondelli’s brace, midfielder Caroline Patterson’s goal and three assists, defender Patricia Felder’s goal and forward Sanai Wright’s two assists led the future alumnae. Freshman forward Aiyana Wright added a goal.
Short-handed Curie (5-8-0, 2-3-0) struggled against the Eagles.
Condors first-year coach Nenad Bjelicic said there was a reason his team was overmatched against the high-powered and motivated Eagles.
“Right now, we were missing several crucial players due to finals and academics. Academics comes first,” Bjelicic said.
“We’re a young team and going to keep on developing from this loss. We have to adjust to different positions and formations to see how it goes, and adapt to a higher-level team like Jones.
“We have to play our style of soccer and adapt to our opponent. We’re a young team. We have a solid freshman class. I’m looking forward to the upcoming years.”
GK: Erendira Robles
D: Litzy Ortiz
D: Gloria Ortiz
D: Itzury Quijano
D: Kayla Perez
MF: Guadalupe Gil
MF: Alondra Molina
MF: Frida Rodriguez
MF: Alexia Torres
F: Leylani Corral
F: Denisse Baher
GK: Ruby Miller
D: Morgan Scott
D: Mari Hamada
D: Patricia Felder
D: Jacqueline DeMille
MF: Caroline Patterson
MF: Carolina Rondelli
MF: Sanai Wright
MF: Kaelyn Perez
F: Aiyana Wright
F: Mia McRoberts
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Mia McRoberts, sr., F, Jones
Jones: Rondelli (McRoberts), 3’
Jones: Rondelli (unassisted), 5’
Jones: Patterson (S. Wright), 8’
Jones: McRoberts (Patterson), 12’
Jones: McRoberts (Patterson), 22’
Jones: McRoberts (unassisted), 30’
Jones: A. Wright (Patterson), 39’
Jones: Felder (Bahrmasel), 55’