News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

Girls soccer looks to multiple returners to fuel a successful ’24 season

Tatum Gaines
The 2023 Normal West girls soccer team saw some major success last season as they won regionals. However, last year’s squad lost some key seniors. Head Coach Valentine Walker is excited to see the new seniors step up in their leadership role(s). Their first game of the season will take place at 4:30pm at Peoria High School.

The Normal West girls soccer team is kicking their 2024 season off with multiple returning varsity players that bring high hopes for a repeat of last season’s success.

Last year, the Wildcats took the Regional crown and also placed 2nd in the Big 12 Conference, as well.

Normal West’s Varsity Coach, Valentine Walker, has coached many years, and has helped these Wildcats be successful.

The captains of the this year’s team are Seniors Evelyn Rachel, Meredith Bertsche, Armeta Gorman, and Bella Torrenz. Specifically, Rachel and Bertsche offer a lot to the team as competitive role models to the underclassmen.

Senior Meredith Bertsche poses with a trophy from last season. Bertsche is a 4-year Varsity letter winner and an athlete that head coach Valentine Walker is looking to for senior leadership.

Bertsche has been on the varsity team all four years of high school and explains what it means to be a captain this season.

“It means a lot to not only be on varsity for all four years but to be captain, as well. I think it’s a testament to all of the time and effort I’ve put into the team, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish this year,” Bertsche remarks.

“[Other young players like] Cameryn Nussbaum, Sarah McReynolds, and Armeta Gorman will also contribute a lot to the team as being young attackers,” Coach Walker adds.

West has started this season specifically looking at the ‘small’ fundamental parts of the game. “[Things like] how to make a pass, how to receive a ball, how to defend well: all those little things are always a focus for me,” Coach Walker notes.

Overall, Coach Walker is known to instill things like work ethic, fitness, and the competitive drive of the game all to prepare his teams for those tough games down the stretch.

“[Some of our toughest competition is against] Normal Community or Notre Dame, but generally most of the conference games are going to be very competitive,” Coach Walker adds.

In addition to the competitive season, the Wildcats are also looking forward to a very important and life-changing trip that they will take to Jamaica after the season is over.

Coach Walker began this tradition because he feels that it’s important for his teams to see life in different areas.

“They experience different realities of different people and to have empathy for the less fortunate by participating in community service projects. The goal is for them to be a more rounded individual,” Coach Walker explains.

Overall, the girls will continue to work hard and push through obstacles to achieve their goals this season. The girls hope to take one game at a time and to work together to not only grow their individual soccer skills but their entire team’s skills.

“I’m excited to see this team grow not only on the field but our bond in general. I’m also excited to see how intercity plays out this year as I feel like most of the teams are pretty equal when it comes to talent,” Bertsche adds.

The Wildcats will play on Monday, March 11 in their season opener. They will travel to Peoria High School, and the game will begin at 4:30 pm.

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