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Preview story: Neuqua, Waubonsie hungry for Valley victory

By Bobby Narang, 05/02/23, 4:30PM CDT


Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley square off Tuesday afternoon for a meaningful conference game.

The Warriors and Wildcats won’t be battling for DuPage Valley Conference supremacy, but a win, in particular in conference play, would certainly help build some momentum for the victor.

Both teams are hungry for their first league victory.

Neuqua Valley (4-6-1, 0-3-0) has faced the best the conference has to offer in ranked Naperville Central, Metea Valley and Naperville North.

Waubonsie Valley coach Julie Bergstrom said Tuesday’s game is an ideal opportunity to gain a conference win and end a two-game losing streak. The Warriors (5-7-1, 0-1-0) suffered their  league loss in a 3-1 decision to Naperville Central on April 5.

Bergstrom said her team must maintain focus to knock off the Wildcats.

“The keys to winning today’s game are staying switched on throughout the entire game, finishing our chances and winning our individual battles,” she said. “Our goal is always to beat yesterday. As a young team heading into the playoffs staying switched on for the full game will be vital.”

Neuqua Valley coach Arnoldo Gonzalez, like Bergstrom, is focused on keeping his strategy simple for Tuesday’s game.

“We have to minimize our mistakes and keep possession of the ball,” he said. “We have to play consistent soccer for the remainder of the season.”

Bergstrom said junior Taylor Ahmadian, sophomore Thanya Castelan, junior captain Macy Evans and sophomore captain Katie Chapman have played consistently all season and provided leadership. Ahmadian leads the team with 14 goals and six assists. Castelan is second in goals with eight and tied with Katie Chapman with five assists for the second-best total on the team.

“Taylor Ahmadian and Thanya Castelan have been our key contributors with a combined 55 points,” Bergstrom said. “This is their first season playing together and throughout the season they have gained a stronger understanding of each other’s style. 

“Taylor Ahmadian is a threat anytime she touches the ball in the final third. Taylor has quick feet, a willingness to run at players with pace and knows how to finish a ball. Thanya adds a competitive gritty style and makes great runs off the ball to be a dual threat.

“Macy Evans, through her leadership and ability to battle, has been a strong and consistent presence for our backline. Katie Chapman has a relentless work-rate offering numerous services from wide spaces.”

Neuqua Valley enters the game with Selma Larbi leading the team with eight goals to go with three assists. Brianna Clasen has six goals and five assists.

“Brianna has been very dangerous on the left wing, been playing great balls in and also scoring several goals this season,” Gonzalez said. “Selma is our top goal-scorer this season. She has great speed and is always leaving the defenders behind, creating goal opportunities for herself and her teammates. 

“Alessandra Russo, our outside back, has great vision of the field going forward. She’s a player who adds to the attack as much as she adds defensively.”