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Preview story: Undefeated Wheaton Academy looks to continue roll vs. Hope

By Bill Esbrook, 04/21/24, 9:45AM CDT


Wheaton Academy is playing in a newly formed league this season, the Chicagoland Christian Conference.

So far that experience, along with the season, have gone pretty well.

The Warriors are 3-0-0 in conference, and as a matter of fact haven’t lost a match this season. They’re 7-0-3 overall.

Monday (April 22), Wheaton Academy will try to extend its streaks league foe Hope at 5 p.m. in West Chicago.

It’s been a topsy-turvy rollercoaster ride of a season so far for Hope, the 2023 Independent School League champion. The Eagles have posted an 8-5-0 overall mark, are 2-2-0 in conference, and have shown impressive firepower in their victories – they’ve scored 42 times goals while conceding only six tallies.

However, in five defeats they have scored only six times while giving up 31 goals.

“They (Hope) are a really solid team, solid players with some good skills,” said Warriors coach Maria Selvaggio. “It should be a good matchup.”

Wheaton Academy is led on the pitch, as they were in the 2023 campaign, by senior Rebecca Schulenburg.

The forward was a Chicagoland Soccer All-State selection as a junior after scoring 17 goals and adding 14 assists.

She also was named the co-Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division Most Valuable Player and has committed to playing college soccer at Cedarville University (Division II) in Ohio.

“Rebecca is a pivotal leader in our attack,” said Selvaggio. 

The senior has 11 goals and 7 assists thus far in 2024.

“She’s invested herself in this season, and is conscious of ensuring the quality of time that she has left (in the program),” Selvaggio continued.

“She’s very beloved at our school. Rebecca is also a gifted musician and has spoken at several assemblies. Just a very bright kid and a friend to all.”

The Warriors have, in addition, received impactful performances this year from senior Eva DeSouza (four goals) and sophomore Annika Vandervelde (three goals).

“Those two have done a great job,” said Selvaggio. “They’re very crafty on the ball and very speedy."

The coach has been impressed with her squad’s backline and goalkeeping as well. They’ve given up only five goals on the season.

The Warriors have been improved their performances as the season has progressed. They started the year with three draws in their first four games but have now won six in a row entering Monday’s game.

“We’ve won some good, tough games,” said Selvaggio. “Early in the season we battled to a few ties (vs. Burlington Central, Glenbard East and Cary-Grove), and we had chances to score (to win those matches), but we couldn’t put the ball away.

“But it’s been a strong season so far. They’ve been playing nice soccer, and we have great senior leadership. We’ve had a lot of cohesion in our possession.

“Their goal is to be undefeated in conference, and they’re starting to achieve that by playing their best.”

The coach also mentioned that she and her team will be travelling this week on the first of two out-of-state trips this season.

“They’re excited,” added Selvaggio, “because they have the opportunity to go deeper in their relationship with their teammates. We’ll be flying together, staying in hotels together, taking a step out of what we’re accustomed to.”

Wheaton Academy will meet Holland Hall (Okla.) on Thursday and Bentonville West (Ark.) on Friday.