Despite 0-5 loss with Madison, ECC Lady Spartans remain confident

Ian Havemann, Staff Writer

Elgin Community College’s Lady Spartan soccer team lost 0-5 on Wednesday, Sept. 27 against Madison College, the second leading team in the region. This brings the Lady Spartans overall standing to fifth in Division III with a score of 2-5. Rick Ceh, the women’s soccer team Head Coach of five years, is not discouraged by the game’s outcome.

“[I’m] very proud of the team in today’s match,” Ceh said. “The first 35 minutes were dynamic. The team possessed the ball well, had opportunities on goal and were disciplined in our defensive shape. The ladies are applying what they’re learning in training, and it’s paying off on the field.”

As the coach, Ceh mentioned that he prioritizes the overall health and improvement of his players, rather than limiting his focus to the games and having their performance define their character.

“My philosophy in coaching is that I am here to help with life, school and a little bit of soccer,” Ceh said. “It’s so much more than just soccer. My job is to make sure these girls are healthy into their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. I don’t really care about one week from now. I’m looking at the long-term betterment of these players.”

The Lady Spartans have more returning players this season than they have had in the last five seasons. Any returning players aid coach Ceh in training the new players, which helps establish a group mind and a stronger dynamic among the teammates.

“Honestly [the new players] fit right in,” said team captain Kendra Rios. “There was an instant connection between everyone.”

“It makes our winning chances much higher, because of how comfortable we are with each other and how we play,” said team captain Natalie Thompson. “Our season has been better than last year; we have more wins already.”

The team’s connection with each other doesn’t stop when they step off the field. Freshman captain, Ana Leon said aside from the practices, the team implements even more team bonding by studying together.

“This has been the best chemistry we’ve ever had,” Ceh said. “The best mix of young ladies [makes for] a very good [team] dynamic.”

The Lady Spartans have a full plate of responsibility. Ceh said the team starts practice early in the morning, then goes from practice to the showers, from the showers to the classroom and from the classroom to working on all of the homework that comes with being a student. On top of doing the schoolwork, the players must maintain certain grades and credit hours in order to stay eligible for the season. Not to mention having games every two to three days.

“We’re going into a tough stretch,” Ceh said. “If there was one thing I could change about the college soccer experience, [it’s that] there are too many games in a very short window.”

Having games so frequently doesn’t give the team a lot of time to adequately analyze strengths and weaknesses and to give those strengths and weaknesses as much attention as coach Ceh would like.

“We will have a tough challenge,” Ceh said. “But the thing I appreciate about these young ladies is they never give up, and I appreciate the opportunity of being able to be here and be a part of these young ladies lives. All I want is for them to be better than when they started with me.”

The Lady Spartans are about halfway through their season and are really gearing up for the regional tournament in mid-October. The Lady Spartans have a game on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Triton College, a game on Monday, Oct. 1 at College of DuPage and a home game on Wednesday, Oct. 3 against Morton College.

Coach Ceh said if anyone is interested in being apart of the women’s soccer team next fall to call or text him at his cell phone number: (847) 651-6994.