Hurricanes' Blaz leads charge toward another great season
For Karlie Blaz, a Marian Central Catholic soccer midfielder used to winning, a major turning point in her high-school career came in a loss.
At the end of her sophomore year, she told the McHenry Times, the Hurricanes lost 1-0 to Prairie Ridge in the opening game of the regionals. However, that was a game that Prairie Ridge was supposed to win by much more against a young Marian Central team that had lost a lot of experience and talent from the season before.
“Even though we lost, it was a big deal to me because we held our ground,” Blaz said. “They were surprised they didn't win by much, and I knew the next year was going to be a lot better.”
Blaz was right. The Hurricanes made it to the Class 1A state championship game last year, with Blaz leading the way. And with much of that team back this season, the 2017 campaign promises to be a strong one for Blaz's senior season.
Last season, heading into the Hurricanes' semifinal game against Williamsville on May 27 in Naperville, Blaz had 13 goals, which led the team at that point, and eight assists, according to the State Journal-Register. Blaz had a goal in the Hurricanes' 6-1 win. Then, in the championship game on May 28, she assisted on Marian Central's lone goal in its 2-1 overtime loss to Wheaton Academy.
The team built off the momentum of each win in their run, Blaz said.
“It was an amazing experience to go to state,” she said. “(Head Coach Karl Smith) believed in us from the beginning, even though we doubted ourselves.”
This season, the Hurricanes entered with a strong nucleus back from last season, led by 2016 All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selections Blaz, forward Erika Dacanay and defender Alyssa Sutherland. Blaz said the expectations are different for the team this season, now that the players know what they are capable of.
“We just have to work hard like we did last year,” said Blaz, who also was an all-conference pick in 2015.
The Hurricanes started the season 2-4-1 as of April 7, according to the team's schedule.
Blaz's father, Jim, got her to love soccer, she said, as he coached her and took her to practices and games. Her first varsity action at MCCHS was at the end of her freshman year, when she had been on junior varsity all season before being called up for a spot on the team that won its region in 2014.
Blaz said she was scared at first to be on varsity so young, but also excited. And it benefited her down the road.
“It helped me get a feel for the players I'd be playing with next year, and helped me with kind of what to expect from other teams at that level that we'll be playing next year,” she said.
Blaz's soccer future beyond this season is already set, as in February she signed up to join the Carroll University program.
“I just can't imagine not playing soccer next year, so I'm very happy I get to do that,” she said.
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