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DeCooks ready for sister act for Naperville North soccer

Claire DeCook’s bragging rights in her family lasted only a few hours on July 24.

That was a banner day for the DeCooks in particular and Naperville-based Galaxy SC in general.

Claire DeCook, an incoming freshman at Naperville North, started at forward for the 14U group that became the first girls team in Galaxy history to win a national title. Galaxy defeated Arsenal Colorado 1-0 on penalty kicks to capture the US Youth Soccer championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Her sister Cameron DeCook, a Naperville North senior who is three years older, was thrilled, especially after the conversation she had with her sister the day before.

“It was funny,” Cameron DeCook said. “She said, ‘Since our game is before yours, if we win, then we’ll be the first girls team from Galaxy to win the national championship and not you guys.’ We were laughing.”

There was more glee several hours later when Cameron DeCook helped Galaxy’s 18U team win a national title with a 3-0 victory over Penn FC Youth. Claire DeCook caught the end of that game after missing the first half while attending the medal ceremony for her team.

“I was collecting my medal, and my dad texted me that they scored, and I was just so happy for her,” Claire DeCook said. “A couple of my teammates have older sisters on their team, so it was so fun being around them because they were all talking about it.”

The 18U team held a 1-0 lead when the 14U team arrived.

“We were so happy when we saw their team coming to our field with their medals on,” Cameron DeCook said. “It just made us even more determined.”

The 18U team included many of the top players from Naperville-area schools. Benet graduate Katie Lewellyan and Naperville North graduate Olivia Anderson scored the final two goals in the championship game, while former Naperville Central goalkeeper Abby O’Connor recorded the shutout.

The team also included Naperville Central seniors Ella Burke and Megan Norkett, Naperville North graduates Lucy Iverson and Peyton Hegner, Metea Valley graduate Ella Johnson and junior Lucy Burk, Waubonsie Valley graduate Isra Khan and Oswego senior Anna Johnson, who scored the first goal in the final.

Cameron DeCook played out of position. She was asked to fill in at outside back, where she last played when she was 7, rather than at forward.

“I was a little bit outside of my comfort zone there,” she said. “But having Lucy Iverson next to me in the back helped me a lot.”

Naperville North coach Steve Goletz was not surprised to see her excel.

“That’s a perfect spot for her,” Goletz said. “She’s willing to battle, and she’s such a good athlete.”

Goletz said the same thing about Claire DeCook, who was voted to the Best IX team in the 14U tourney, as was Norkett at the 18U level.

Galaxy’s two national titles demonstrated the high level of talent in Naperville — and in Illinois, which led all states with four — and the ability of the players to unite following the high school season.

“Getting to know them on the field on such a big stage is really incredible,” Cameron DeCook said. “It was a slight learning curve, but we all worked well together.

“It just shows how competitive we all are and how talented everyone on that team is to go from playing against each other to coming together and being able to work so well toward such a big title.”

The DeCooks are looking forward to playing with each other next spring at Naperville North.

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“My parents have dreamed about Cameron and I being on the same team, so it’s just a lot of pressure,” Claire DeCook said. “It’s definitely going to be interesting.”

The DeCooks weren’t the only sister acts to star in Orlando. The 14U roster also included Ella Burke’s sister Emerson and Anna Johnson’s sister Peyton.

The DeCooks will be the latest in a long line of siblings to play soccer for the Huskies.

“I do really like that,” Cameron DeCook said. “It speaks volumes about North as a community. Even outside of soccer, the programs and the people are just incredible.”

If Claire DeCook plays for four years for the Huskies, Goletz will have coached a DeCook sister in seven consecutive years.

“Which will be great,” Goletz said. “It’s a great family. You can see it in the way the kids play. They believe in hard work.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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