Girls Varsity Soccer
Game Summaries & Headlines.
GIRLS PREP SOCCER: Redbirds 2-0 as Sabo era starts at Alton
New coach Gwen Sabo has Alton off to 1-0 start
Pete Hayes, email@example.com
Telegraph File Photo
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First-year Alton High girls soccer coach Gwen Sabo, far right, keeps on eye on a Marquette Catholic High practice last spring. Sabo, former Alton and Northern Illinois player and a former Telegraph Player of
GODFREY — Gwen Sabo is on the fast track. And she said that track has led her back to a place she’s found a good fit - as the Alton High girls soccer coach.
Sabo, in just her second year as a coach, has taken over the reins at AHS from Jeff Hayes, who resigned following last season in order to spend more time with his family. So far, so good - if just a little damp and wind-blown following a 1-0 victory over Marion on an own-goal Wednesday night in a Metro Cup Adidas bracket pool play game.
Sabo has the Redbirds off to a 2-0 start and they claimed the top spot in Pool C of the Adidas Bracket. Alton also won its opener on Monday, downing Freeburg 4-0 and will move to a semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of Pool A.
Wednesday night, the Redbirds won with a little help from the wind early in the second half during a well-placed corner kick by Grace Kane. The flighted kick twisted in the air and came down just a few feet off the goal line, where a Marion defender stuck out her leg to try and clear it, but inadvertently put it in her own goal in the 42nd minute.
“The ball definitely had some movement on it,” Sabo said, “but the defender stuck a leg up. She was only a few feet off the goal line, so it was a good service.”
So far, so good for the 2011 AHS grad.
Sabo, a former AHS standout and former Telegraph Player of the Year, served as assistant coach at Marquette Catholic High last year. Prior to that, her experience on the field was mainly as a player. After graduating from Alton, she went on to play at Northern Illinois University.
“I enjoyed coaching (for Marquette) last year, but it felt a little unusual,” Sabo said with a chuckle. “I was back in my hometown, but on the other side of town at another high school.”
Last season, Alton finished 10-7-2 overall and went 3-2-1 in the Southwestern Conference, a game out of first place.
Sabo said that when she heard Hayes had resigned at Alton, she didn’t hesitate.
“I knew it was a place I wanted to be,” she said.
Evidently, so did the Alton High powers-that-be.
“I’m really liking it so far,” Sabo said. “I knew Alton had had a good season last year and they were within a win of winning the conference.”
With winter-like weather hanging on a little longer than usual this year, Sabo said that chances to practice outside have been few and far between.
Sabo said she knows a few things about her team already, however.
“We’ve got a pair of forwards who, I think, can have really good season,” she said. “Maggie Evans and Alaina Nasello are a great pair up top. Evans is speedy and Nasello has great skills and sees the field very well.”
In the season-opening victory over Freeburg, Nasello and Evans each scored a pair of goals.
“And in the back on defense, Megan Zini and Calista Cox complement each other and do a great job as central backs.”
Zini and Cox, both seniors, have already committed to stay together in college. they will each play at NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield.
Defense catches Sabo’s eye often. She was standout center back during her playing days.
“I’m a believer that teams are built form the defense up,” she said. “It’s all important, of course, though.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m liking it and I like what they girls have shown so far.”