For many athletes, the start of a new season brings individual goals.
But for Gabi Krueger, a recent Ottawa high school graduate and women’s soccer star, who had just completed a 25-goal junior season, helping and seeing the team improve from day one was the main goal. more important in his mind.
Krueger, Times Women’s Soccer Player of the Year for the second straight year, did it in many ways beyond the 10 goals and 10 assists she recorded last spring to help the Pirates finish with a 6-7-1 record.
“My main focus was that I really wanted the team to improve, not only in terms of records but also in the way we played the game,” said Krueger, who finished his career with the Pirates. with 40 goals and 17 assists from his midfield spot. “I feel like we did both.
“I think the girls who were new last year worked on their game in the offseason, and it showed this year. From the very first practice until the last seconds of our last game, we were better I also think we all had more faith in each other, that we were going to be in the right places or make the right plays…. Due to lack of experience, that wasn’t always the case last season. .
“There was just a better flow for everything we were doing.”
Football is different from many sports because not only are there fewer stats to track, but even those don’t always tell a player’s true impact on any given day or season.
It was common to see Krueger, a two-time All-Interstate 8 draft pick, shoot or pass that led to a chance in the offensive third, then seconds later in the defensive third to help clear the ball away from the danger. – all in between to make sure his team wins midfield battles for an advantage.
“Her stats confirm how great she has been for our program on paper, even with her second season canceled, but that really only tells a small part of the story,” the coach said. Ottawa Sean Porter on Krueger. “We have won 21 games in the last three seasons that have been played, and I think that number could be closer to five or six without his contributions. She has the special talent of being able to dictate how a match goes, and she’s probably the most balanced player I’ve ever coached. She made every player around her better in every practice and game.
“Success is a way of life for her. She had an incredible positive impact, not only on the Ottawa women’s soccer program, but also on the high school itself. I think she showed that you can be all business but have fun at the same time, that you can be successful and also enjoy it, and that you can balance athletics and studies.
“Ultimately, she is a true role model and a winner on and off the pitch. She will be sorely missed in the seasons to come, but she also showed young players what it takes to not only be a player and a solid leader, but also an exceptional person.
Krueger scored the only goal in a season-opening 1-0 win over rivals Streator, and days later found the back of the net in the Pirates’ 2-0 win over La Salle-Peru. She also had two goals and two assists in a triumph over DePue-Hall, and two goals and an assist in a win over Coal City.
Ottawa, like many other teams across the state, had a number of games postponed and then ultimately canceled due to cold, rainy weather this spring. Although she can’t remember the specific opponents, a pair of games came to mind as her favorites.
“There are two games that really stuck in my mind,” Krueger said. “These are games where I think those teams were maybe overall better than us in terms of skill, but we got past them and ended up winning. It’s one thing about our team this year, we’ve always played hard no matter what. I don’t think Coach Porter ever had to tell us that he felt we weren’t playing as hard as we could. I feel like that was the best subconscious compliment he could have given all of us.
Although football at the college level for Krueger could be as a club player, she said she was excited to move on to the next chapter of her life.
“I decided to go to the University of Illinois to study sociology,” said Krueger, who plans to major in criminology with possibly a future job at the FBI. “It was a choice between that or continuing to play football at Wheaton College, where my dad was struggling. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to continue playing, and I also fell in love with the campus of the U of I.
“I’m excited to start.”