Despite their varied soccer experience, Naperville Central seniors Amanda Alberts, Nikki Connors and Sabrina Cisneros all share common aspirations. With an appearance in the championship game of the Naperville Invitational Girls Soccer Tournament on April 27, the Redhawks are well on their way to the ultimate goal of a state championship. Head coach Ed Watson says that Alberts, Connors and Cisneros were the only girls chosen from their sophomore class in to represent the school at the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Ranch in Colorado in the summer of 2011.
Names: Amanda Alberts (senior), Nikki Connors (senior), Sabrina Cisneros (senior)
Position: Alberts (center defender); Connors (goalie); Cisneros (defense/midfield)
How long have you played soccer? Alberts (14 years); Connors (three months); Cisneros (since she was 5 years old)
What do you love most about soccer?
Alberts: The aspect of being a team: winning together, losing together and counting on each other. We have pasta parties before or after every game, we do a lot of team-building activities, and then come together to play a game we all love.
Connors: Since this is my first season playing soccer, I just love the competition. I am very competitive and I love to see my teammates winning the head balls or getting past a defender.
Cisneros: Soccer became the biggest part of my life when I started travel soccer. It was the only thing that could take my mind off of whatever problems I faced in life. I am the happiest when I am on the field.
What are your goals for this season? How will you achieve them?
Alberts: I’m really hoping to win games against some hard teams; there’s always a lot of good competition within the Naperville area. I think Central has the ability to put up a good fight against any opponent because we always have a great group of girls with good team chemistry.
Connors: To go to state and win. We are working hard each practice and game to get better and perfect our skills. We count on each other to push ourselves every time we go on the field and I think our hard work shows in games.
Cisneros: Winning the Naperville invite for the second year in a row, becoming conference champions and then state champions. We would like to play as one on the field and play for each other, not just ourselves.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
Alberts: It’s my last year playing soccer, so I really want to have a good season in terms of winning a lot of games. But, I also just want to enjoy my last season, be the best player I can be, and give it my all.
Connors: The many more games to come. I am excited to see how our season ends up and I am excited for state finals.
Cisneros: The state tournament. Last year our team lost a tough game and this year we are coming back hungry for revenge and to take back our opportunity. I am also excited to be able to play with a wonderful group of players including the seniors.
Do you have any rituals or superstitions when you play?
Alberts: During the National Anthem, the entire team lines up and we kick the players’ shin guards behind us. When it gets to the last player, that person sends the kicks forward by tapping the heels of the player’s cleats in front of them. In addition, another player and I wear headbands with initials of friends/family that have passed away.
Connors: The first game I played, our starting goalie was injured so I had to step in. This was my first shutout, and during this game my socks were inside out. Ever since then I play with my socks inside out.
Cisneros: I only wear Adidas soccer cleats. And before every game another senior on our team and I have a handshake ritual.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
Alberts: I have four siblings and all of us have always been very competitive, especially in our athletics. I’ve watched my older siblings succeed through their hard work, and they’ve encouraged me to do the same.
Connors: My parents. When I was a kid I was in every sport I could sign up for, and a lot of those sports [were] coached by my dad. They were supportive when I decided to stop playing volleyball and they were supportive when I decided to play soccer my senior year. I couldn’t do it without them.
Cisneros: My family. Whenever I was down on the sport or was tired and did not feel up to play, my family pushed me to always keep trying and was very motivating.
If you didn’t play soccer, what would you be doing?
Alberts: I used to be a swimmer. If I hadn’t played soccer, I would probably have stuck with swimming, and possibly water polo.
Connors: I would probably have a job coaching volleyball or doing something in the park district to keep sports in my life.
Cisneros: I would be pretty bored. Soccer takes up most of my free time between high school and club season[s]. It has taken away a lot of free time to hang out with friends and have a social life but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Alberts: Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. They both work extremely hard to be where they are, and the difference each of them makes out on the field is noticeable to their teammates and fans.
Connors: Bo Jackson. He not only was an incredible athlete but was an inspiration to all. He won the Heisman trophy and also was the first All-Star athlete [in two major sports]. He is the epiphany of hard work and dedication.
Cisneros: Mia Hamm because she fought for women’s’ soccer and women’s’ sports in general. She never gave up and kept trying to promote the sport by playing her best in every game. She is an inspiration for all women to never give up and to push through stereotypes.
What hobbies or activities do you enjoy outside soccer?
Alberts: I like to read, spend time at my family’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin, listen to country music, and hang out with my friends.
Connors: I also play volleyball, I like running and being active, I hang out a lot with my family and friends and I am a big movie watcher!
Cisneros: I like to spend my days off surrounding myself with people I love and enjoy [being] with.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
Alberts: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Connors: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan
Cisneros: “Never let good be good enough; it is the art of never being satisfied.”
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