Jessie Terada, Naperville’s Galaxy soccer win national title – Chicago Tribune

A golden era of Naperville North girls soccer was just beginning when coach Brent Terada resigned after guiding the program to a second-place finish in Class 3A in 2011.

The Huskies won state championships in each of the next two seasons under his successor, Steve Goletz, and did it again in 2019.

But Brent Terada has no regrets.

“The reason why I stepped away from Naperville North is to have more time to spend with my kids,” he said. “Trying to keep up with a varsity team when you have four kids is impossible.”

Yet Brent Terada wasn’t done with coaching. When his second-oldest child, Jessie, began playing with Naperville-based club Galaxy at age 7, he started coaching her team.

“The No. 1 thing for me is it’s super cool that I get to spend so much time with her and enjoy this,” Brent Terada said. “Whether they were good or not, that’s irrelevant. I still enjoy being her coach.”

He has the best of both worlds. Jessie Terada and many of the same teammates she has had since grade school are still together and are winning everything in sight.

Jessie Terada, an incoming freshman at Metea Valley, incoming Naperville Central freshman Eleanor Kane, Neuqua Valley sophomore Allessandra Russo and Oswego sophomore Peyton Johnson anchored a formidable defensive effort as Galaxy won the US Youth Soccer 15U national championship in Orlando on July 23. The team won the 14U title last year.

That Galaxy team, which consists mostly of players from the western suburbs, defeated the Germantown Legends from Tennessee 2-0 in the final. Two incoming freshmen — Neuqua Valley’s Gabe Smith and Naperville North’s Lily Radek — scored a goal each.

“This is the team I left North to coach for,” Brent Terada said. “I never dreamed of a national title with this group. I don’t think there’s anyone who stands out every single game. They all work really hard. I think me having experience as a varsity coach helped prepare them for what they’re going in for.”

All of the sophomores played on the team last year and also played on their respective varsity teams as freshmen. That group includes Russo, Naperville Central’s Malia Shen and Naperville North’s Claire DeCook and Brooke Welch.

“I just feel like we’re best when we work as a team,” Russo said. “Our depth is really important in making us successful because no matter who is on the field, our intensity and skill never drops.”

Indeed, Galaxy won the national title without three of its leading attackers as DeCook, Welch and Naperville North sophomore Michelle Ruan all missed the tournament with ACL injuries. Smith and incoming Naperville Central freshman Emerson Burke helped fill the void.

But defense has been Galaxy’s calling card. The team has allowed only two goals in 10 games during the past two national tournaments. The 5-foot-10 Jessie Terada is a major reason for that.

“It was really exciting,” she said about winning the championship. “I think it shows how much I’ve improved. (My strengths are) winning balls in the air, being physical and 1v1 defending.”

Much of Jessie Terada’s knowledge and mindset have come from her father.

“It’s fun to play for him,” she said. “He’s taught me a lot, especially how to compete.”

Russo said Jessie Terada competes well.

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“She’s one of our more aggressive players,” Russo said. “She’s not afraid to throw a hit, and she’s not afraid in the air at all.

“I think it’s cool that our coach’s daughter is on the team. She works really hard, so she’s a great player to play with, and she’s a really great teammate on and off the field.”

Russo said Galaxy’s success motivates her and her teammates to be even better when they play for their high school teams.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster knowing that we went back to back,” she said. “I feel we were definitely successful in our high school teams, and I think it was really cool for each of us to see our teammates’ success.”

It was cool for Brent Terada too.

“They really made an impact in high school soccer,” he said. “I’m a huge fan of high school soccer. Even though I can’t coach it anymore, I’m super excited to watch my kids contribute to local high school teams.”

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

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