Unstoppable: Girls Soccer Starts Off Postseason in Dominant Fashion


Regional Champions! Front Row (L to R): Maggie Roche, Karina Krammer, Mae Tully, Mia Tommasone, Dani Pullen, Emily Mikitka, Abby Casmere; Middle Row: Sarah Bozych, Kate Flynn, Gracie Chalkey, Nicole Burns, Mary Kate Hansen, Cami Picha, Jaimee Cibulka, Eva Frantzen, Katie Lewellyan; Back Row: Molly Walsh, Mia Ullmer, Kayla Brannigan, Paige Neri, Brooke Pullen, Mary Kate Wilhelm; Not Pictured: Ava Rogers

The postseason is meant to serve as the toughest test a team faces all year, but the Benet Academy girls soccer team has been unfazed by this additional pressure. In fact, they have responded by putting together the best performances of the season.
After concluding the regular season with an impressive 17-3-1 record, one that saw them finish as co-champions of the East Suburban Catholic Conference, the Redwings entered the playoffs as one of the favorites to win a state championship. With head coach, Mr. Gerard Oconer, at the helm and seven players named to the all-conference team, their roster is among the most talented groups in Illinois.

At the core of Redwings’ talent are the seniors who are a seasoned unit with experience playing deep into the postseason. Coming off of a 2018 campaign which saw them lose in the Class 2A Super Sectionals, Benet’s returning starters used their loss as motivation to make a push deeper into the playoffs. In addition, their younger players have also done a commendable job of stepping up and contributing.

The Redwings possess a dangerous group of forwards who are capable of striking at any moment. The unit is led by senior Abby Casmere, a Miami of Ohio commit, who leads the team in goals; senior Mae Tully, future Dayton Flyer: and sophomore Jamiee Cibulka, who won Offensive Player of the Year in the ESCC.

Benet’s forwards are greatly aided by their midfielders, who have consistently facilitated accurate passes and contributed goals of their own all season. Senior Mia Ullmer and junior Mia Tommasone have displayed fantastic ball-handling abilities, athleticism, and the capability of leading their teammates on with their passes to create better shooting opportunities. Both players were named to the all-conference team for their efforts.

In the rare instance that the Redwings allow the ball to cross onto their side of the field, their defense is as good as any team in the state. Junior Kate Flynn had a remarkable season on the back end for Benet, finishing as the Player of the Year in the conference. Seniors Mary Kate Hansen and Mary Kate Wilhelm also displayed physicality and the ability to clog up lanes for opponents on their way to respective all-conference seasons. Senior goalkeeper Eva Frantzen was rock solid all season, notching twelve shutouts in the regular season.

Benet kicked off their postseason at Hinsdale South in a first-round matchup against Lindblom Math and Science Academy. The Redwings entered the game as the first seed in the Nazareth Sectional tournament, but few could have expected the win to be as large as it was.

The Redwings got off to a red hot start, scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the game. Within the first 15 minutes, the lead expanded to 6-0. At halftime, Benet held a commanding 10-0 lead. The second half was cut down from 40 minutes to 20, and even with a more conservative style of play in the latter part of the game, the Redwings still came away with an emphatic 14-0 victory.

The highlight of the first round, though, came late in the first half, as Frantzen was substituted into the game as a forward and scored her first ever goal.

“[Oconer] promised to put me on the field during this game, so I was super excited,” Frantzen tells the Benet Herald. “And then he finally put me in. So I came in on a corner, and literally on the same corner, someone knocked the ball down. I hit it into the side because I was wide open. It was crazy.”

While Frantzen’s goal was an impressive shot, Oconer decided that a position change was out of the question. “And then he took me out right away after that,” she jokes.

Benet followed up the dominant victory with another impressive showing against Hinsdale South in the Regional Final. Though many of the girls had stayed up late with prom taking place the night before, they still put together an incredible performance, winning 9-0. Senior midfielder Nicole Burns exploded with a hat trick, while the likes of Cibulka, Casmere, and junior forward Cami Picha each scored twice.

The Redwings then traveled out to Nazareth Academy in the third round for a matchup with a Roadrunners team they had faced earlier in the season. Though Benet won in a 2-0 showdown back on May 3rd, they knew that they were in for a challenging game. Unfazed, they responded by tripling their goal total in the second matchup between the two teams.

The matchup was relatively even for the first 15 minutes of the matchup, until Cibulka scored for the Redwings off of an assist by Tommasone. Junior forward Sarah Bozych and Burns each followed up with goals of their own to give them the lead into halftime. Bozych ended up scoring again in the second half, and additional goals by Tommasone and Casmere sent Benet to the Sectional Final after a 6-0 win.

Benet now looks ahead to the rest of the tournament, with a matchup on Friday, May 24, against the second-seeded St. Ignatius at Nazareth Academy. The winner of the matchup will be the Nazareth Sectional champions and will advance to supersectional competition. Though they face tough competition, Benet’s recent success has them confident as they get deeper into the postseason.

“Coming off of a huge win is really big for us because it gives us confidence and momentum going into our next game,” Frantzen says. “Since we had such a good season, our morale is constantly up, and we are able to go into playoff games with the mental strength that we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t had such a good season.”

“We know we are good, and we know how well we are capable of playing, and I think knowing that really just pumps the whole team up.”