The calendar has turned to May; there are supposedly going to be flowers blooming. We know the sectional seeds and pairings have come out.
That means one thing: the regular-season is nearing an end and teams are preparing for the homestretch before embarking on what they hope to be a long, deep run into the state playoffs. The best trip is the one that ultimately ends in Naperville at North Central College on the first weekend of June.
However, before we get to that point, some things need to be accomplished.
For New Trier and Glenbrook South, that includes finishing out the regular-season Central Suburban League South Division schedule with a big-time matchup at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening in Northfield.
Glenbrook South comes into the game with a .500 record but has turned it around since a rough stretch that included the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic and a matchup with league leader Evanston. The recent 4-1-1 mark includes two conference wins and sweeping its games in the Glenbrook Quad (a game with Deerfield was canceled).
“We’ve actually been in most of our games, but our Achilles heel has been to put the ball into the back of the net,” Glenbrook South manager Mark Daniels said. “We’re starting to play more consistently now.
“We’ve started to be more aggressive in the box, creating chances. The girls are playing with confidence. They’re doing the things they need to do, and it’s coming together now.”
New Trier dropped a couple spots in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 this week after tough losses to Evanston and Naperville North last week but rebounded with a nice win over neighborhood rival Loyola to close out the Naperville Invitational with a 3-1-0 record.
Manager Jim Burnside is happy with how his team responded after how the week started.
“I thought we came out and did some good things,” he said. “With the fatigue we had, I thought the girls came out with heart and grinded out a good win in a good game.
“We want to be able to challenge ourselves physically and mentally. How you are able to bounce back, how you’re able to respond, that’s the sign of a good team. And I thought the kids did that.”
One of the reasons for Glenbrook South’s resurgence is that they’ve started to get players back from injury.
Having players out, though, has allowed Daniels and his staff to give chances to a number of younger players, and they’ve stepped up in that time.
“Our motto this season has been to persevere,” Daniels said. “Whatever the situation is, we’re going to persevere.
“I knew the younger kids from camps and clinics, and it’s been exciting to see them play at this level. They’ve really stepped up when they’ve needed to.”
After Tuesday, both teams will fine-tune in preparation for the playoffs.
For Glenbrook South that means games against Vernon Hills and Mundelein in addition to the league cross-over next week.
“I think we’re playing better and competing. They should be fun games down the stretch,” Daniels said. “It all comes down to how we play and not who we play.”
New Trier has a busy end run with a Friday game against Carmel before next week’s three games in four days with the cross-over, and finishing with Lake Forest and Fremd.
“I feel like you can’t have a letdown coming into the playoffs. We want to challenge ourselves, and those are all really tough games,” Burnside said. “I’m hoping to see a continued level of heart they’ve shown all season long. It’s a solidifying of the team and focusing on the goals we had coming into the season.
“I think we’ve come a long way to where we need to be right now. I’m very happy where we’re at.”