4/27/2012 Northfield Loyola's Sarah Soleiman (31) passes the ball while moving upfield during the game against New Trier on Friday, April 27, 2012. | michael jarecki ~ for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:04AM
Sarah Soleiman and Kerry Spence are program players.
The two Loyola seniors waited their turn until getting finally a chance to contribute this season.
Both are taking advantage of the opportunity this spring.
“Those are two players who have surprised the heck out of us,” Loyola coach John Dwyer said of the defenders. “Both have plugged away and worked their tails off. They now are as reliable and consistent as anybody we have.”
The top-seeded Ramblers opened the state tournament last week with a 20-2 win over Warren to improve to 18-3 and were scheduled to play Monday in the sectional championship at Evanston against Palatine. The supersectionals are scheduled for Wednesday, with the state semifinals and final next week.
Loyola learned last week that senior standout Meredith Abrahamson, a Marquette recruit, was selected to the Under Armour All-American team. She was the only player from the Midwest to earn that honor.
But the Ramblers wouldn’t be where they are without players like Soleiman and Spence.
Loyola, which hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 2009, is looking to continue its run of state championships, which stands at three in a row. But Dwyer said the team is not thinking about the past.
“We’re in a great mind-set right now,” he said. We’ve got two weeks to make ourselves a better a team. We aren’t talking about that fourth state title in a row. This year’s team is this year’s team.”
Unlike Soleiman and Spence, Katherine Eilers and Maggie Nick were known commodities. Even still, Dwyer’s been impressed with how they’ve progressed this season.
A midfielder, Eilers is in her second season as a starter, after being one of two sophomores to start last year. Another midfielder, Nick is one of two sophomores to start this season.
“They’ve really filled the bill for us,” Dwyer said.
Eilers, a Notre Dame recruit, is someone who raises her level of play against better teams. She scored three goals each against New Trier, Lake Forest and Hinsdale Central. All three are seeded in the top four at the state tournament.
“She does it quietly and consistently,” Dwyer said. “She’s one of the players — Maggie also — who always seems to come up with the ball.”
Nick was called up a year ago to join the varsity late in the season. After overcoming an ankle injury in the early part of the spring, she’s made her mark on the field.
“She’s played phenomenally well for us, and it’s hard for a sophomore to start for us,” Dwyer said.