Chicago North goalie, only girl on roster, hopes to avenge 2023 loss in HS Hockey State Champ.

Dionne Miller Image
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Chicago North girl goalie hopes to avenge 2023 loss in state champ.
At the end of the Illinois high school hockey playoffs, Chicago North is facing off against Waubonsie with a girl goalie in their final game.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One of the goalies who will be at Wednesday night's High School Hockey State Championship is so good at her job, no one notices that she's the only girl on the roster.

When Chicago North lost to PREP in overtime of the state final last year, Annika Solberg was on the bench. Now, she gets a chance to finish business as North's starting goalie.

"I started out just as a player, and I went to this team party, and they had a net set up in the basement. I started playing goalie, and I just fell in love with it, and begged my parents to let me play, and they let me be back-up. And just from there, the team needed a goalie, and they finally let me be goalie," Solberg said.

Chicago North Assistant Coach Cotton Gore said going into this year, no one knew who would be the starter.

"Annika just stepped up at the beginning of the year, took the job and she's had it ever since," he said.

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Chicago North senior Nicolo Valentino said Solberg has "been stellar all year."

Solberg said it's not hard for her to be the only girl on the team.

"I've just learned to be close to people, look past the gender barrier, and it doesn't really matter. You can be a girl and have guy friends and not be dating them or something, and just to push past the norms of society, and it's great to have friends who are there," she said.

Gore agreed.

"I don't think anyone even thought about it. Everyone just wants the goalie who will make saves, and she has done nothing but make big saves all season for us when we needed them," he said.

Solberg is looking forward to avenging last year's loss on Wednesday night.

"Last year we fell short, and this year I just want to go all the way, especially being a senior. I just want to use that, knowing that we fell short in OT, using that to come together and make it, want it more than the other team. I mean, especially senior year, it'd mean everything to do it. I've always fallen short of state titles. I've finished fourth, or second but never first, so to finally do it senior year would be amazing," she said.

North will play Waubonsie Valley for the combined varsity title at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.