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By Randy Whalen

Galilea Delgado could only smile.

She should because it was a wonderful moment for the Joliet Central freshman.

Delgado took a feed from fellow forward Juli Calderon and was able to convert her shot into the back of the net for her first-ever high school goal. That was one of many Steelmen tallies on a cool and rainy evening as they defeated Crete-Monee 7-0 in a nonconference game on Monday, April 1 at the Joliet Central Stadium. 

The game was origiannly scheduled for Saturday, March 23 but moved to open this week. 

Four different players scored as the Steelmen (2-4, 0-1 in the Southwest Prairie Conference) matched their largest win from last year in the victory. 

But a highlight was certainly Delgado depositing her goal.

"I was wide open and I felt the defense had come up on me," Delgado said of her goal. "I was about 15 yards out and I turned and shot it. I thought it might go out wide but it went into the bottom right corner of the net.

"I couldn't stop smiling when it went in. The team congratulated me and my family was all cheering. Scoring in middle school is fine but this was my first goal in high school. It was a big moment."

Yes, it was, especially since Delgado didn't know she would make the varsity team when tryouts started.

"No, I didn't know," she said. "I knew that I was pretty decent but I didn't expect to be up on the varsity right away. The key to the team is our connection. We just have to keep practicing and building."

Joliet Central coach Stephanie Phillips was happy for Delgado and happy that her team matched its largest victory since beating Crete-Monee by the same 7-0 score on April 21 of last season.

"We have played better," Phillips said. "Now that we have another win, we hope this gives us positive momemtum going forward."

The victory snapped a 2-game losing steak. The Steelmen also defeated Bremen 4-2 on Saturday, March 16 as part of the Windy City Ram Classic Tournament. 

"I actually thought our best game of the year so far was a 6-0 loss to Plainfield South in the Windy City Tournament," Phillips said of the teams second game on Thursday, March 14 at Lincoln-Way Central. "We got shutout but I was happy overall. We made some good plays. Our connection, aggression, and confidence was great."

Unfortunately, Joliet Central didn't play as well in a SPC rematch with Plainfield South (3-3, 1-1) on Thursday, March 28 at home. That was a 10-1 loss. Calderon had the only goal for the Steelmen, who came back strong in the win over Crete-Monee to start this week.

"With us playing in the rain against Crete-Monee, the ball was super slick," Phillips said. But our goal keeper (junior Micaella Arredondo) made five saves and did a great job holding onto the ball."

Calderon, a junior who has been a varsity starter for three years, had the first goal and had a hat trick in the game. She now has six goals in six games.

"It was colds and kinda slippy," Calderon said of the conditions against Crete-Monee."You just had to keep moving, keep running. It (getting the hat trick) felt good. I used to play club ball. but I only play high school now."

Junior midfielder Victoria Davila added two goals and two assists and sophomore forward Kathleen Hernandez had the other goal and also had a pair of assists in the game against the Warriors (1-6-1). 

This seasons capatains are seniors Gisselle Rangel, a defender, and Johanna Reyes, a midfielder. The other seniors on the team are defenders Carolina Cabrera and Leslie Magana, along with midfielder Emily Mireles. 

An SPC clash at Oswego was scheduled for Wednesday, April 3, but rain and sleet forced it to be rescheduled for 4:30 PM on Wednesday, April 24. The next scheduled contset is another SPC one on April 4 at Minooka with a 4:30 PM start. 

But no matter when those conference games get played, there is a new composure and attitude for this group of Steelmen.

"I feel like we're doing better," Calderon said. "I feel like we weren't doing the little things the last two years. I felt a little scared before. Now I feel that we're taking it all in on the field. 

"I feel good, I feel confident. Now we just have to have better communication to win more." 

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