Girls Soccer: Blue Demons committed to being their best
Evanston, 5/16/12 Maine East's Hilary Youkhana races past Lane Tech's Lisbet Montoya for the loose ball during their regional semifinal at Evanston Township High School May 16. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:33AM
Sometimes the measure of a team’s success is not its won/lost record, but rather the commitment to the cause by coaches and players.
The Maine East girls soccer team went just 2-15-1 this season, which ended May 16 when the No. 14-seeded Blue Demons suffered a 9-0 defeat to No. 3 Lane in the Class 3A Evanston regional semifinal.
The Blue Demons had one of the youngest teams around, featuring just two seniors and eight underclassmen. Unlike many of its opponents, Maine East players did not grow up playing together in a feeder program, nonexistent in the local community. Some Demons only began playing organized soccer at the start of high school.
Yet, Maine East coaches and players said the team improved as the season went along. Though the results rarely were there, the commitment always was, and that was embodied by head coach Julie Dickinson and senior team captain Hilary Youkhana.
Dickinson, in her eighth season at the helm, was on hand for every game and practice this season, even though she was pregnant. With her due date looming, doctors instructed her to take it easy. Dickinson rarely listened.
“My coach was always there,” Youkhana said. “They had to bring a cart and she had her own special chair, but she was there every practice. (Assistant coach) Katie Pavlik told us to not let (Dickinson) do anything, but she was eager and still trying to teach us new things. She’s awesome.”
Two days after her team’s season came to an end, Dickinson delivered a daughter. Pavlik reported that mother and daughter are doing just fine.
Youkhana was one of two Blue Demons seniors who played their final game against Lane. The midfielder served as a captain along with classmate Laura Lherisson.
Pavlik said Youkhana, a two-year captain and four-year varsity player, was a valuable leader for the Blue Demons.
“In four years, I can guarantee she never missed a practice,” Pavlik said. “She was committed to her team and to soccer. She always put her best foot forward. It wasn’t the easiest for her (with all the losses), but she’s always been positive, always a leader.
“(Youkhana) was not very vocal, though she voiced her opinion when she needed to. She showed it in her play, and she made sure that she was there all the time. She wanted to be the example, and that’s truly what she did. Nobody could use the excuse that Hilary didn’t do something (so they didn’t have to). She made sure to get things done.”