Photo: Three sisters, senior Michelle (No. 10), freshman Lauren (4) and junior Heather Ortiz (7), play on the Kaneland varsity soccer team this year. Photo by Lynn Logan
Soccer enjoying spoils of three Ortiz sisters on varsity
KANELAND—There has been plenty of highlights for Kaneland girls soccer in 2014, with the squad going out to a successful start.
Look deeper, and there’s even more to be intrigued about, thanks to a hat trick of sisters suiting up for Kaneland.
The Ortiz sisters, senior Michelle, junior Heather and freshman Lauren, have imprinted upon this version of the Lady Knights a unique situation.
But the sisters from Sugar Grove probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Neither would mom Becky, who, with husband Juan, have seen the sisters play all levels of KHS soccer and club soccer for the Naperville Soccer Association.
“It’s extremely special,” Becky said. “They’re very close, which isn’t always the case. They’re each other’s best friends.”
Juan, a former football player at Wheaton North and soccer player at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., and Becky have also seen two older sons as athletes, Stephen and Phil, compete at Kaneland.
“As a parent, it’s a gift to watch, and my goal is to get a picture of all of them on the field playing,” Becky said. “I joke that I need to sit far away from my husband during games because he’s still trying to coach them from the stands.”
With the experience of getting coached by their father through various levels such as Kaneland Youth Soccer Club, the girls, who all made varsity as freshmen, have taken stock of this potentially historic year.
“Both Michelle and Heather made varsity as freshman, so we were preparing Lauren in case she wasn’t varsity that she would still be able to play, but she made varsity and it was great,” Becky said.
The Ortiz bunch is magnanimous in revealing who might be the best soccer sister.
“That’s tough. We all have different qualities,” Michelle said.
“I would put those two before me, only because they have more experience,” Lauren said. If the grudging consensus was the eldest sister, the former freshman goalkeeper offers up some potential reasons why she might be the best.
“I’d say my speed,” Michelle said. “I have more speed than they do.”
“I think I have better technical skills,” Heather offered.
Lauren, being the youngest and newest to the varsity ranks, has a fitting first memory of playing with her siblings.
“I think it’s when I was old enough to say Michelle’s name for her to pass me the ball,” Lauren said. “Then I said Heather’s name.”
“I don’t think I really feel extra pressure,” Lauren added. “I mean, I just go out there and play soccer. I know it, and it’s just better when it’s with my sisters.”
“I think the connection between sisters is different than just a usual team, just because not too many people have that,” Michelle said.
Not too many people have as much soccer talent in close family ranks, either.
“In (Michelle’s) last club season, she had 10 goals, and she’s just faster than people and sets up the plays,” Heather said.
Even if the season can’t extend beyond regionals, as the Lady Knights have tried to do in recent memory, the current campaign will still hold a special place for three girls immersed in soccer.
“It’s the only year we’ve all played together,” Lauren said.
With half the season down, the eldest sister is able to reflect on what this means.
“I won’t be able to do this later on in my life, and the game is fun with my sisters,” Michelle said.