Girls soccer: CP’s Jenna Arnold will do anything to win
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or email@example.com August 19, 2013 8:50PM
Crown Point's Jenna Arnold waits as she plays defense during a game against Culver on Saturday, August 25, 2012, in Culver. | Mark Smith~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2013 6:21AM
CROWN POINT — Jenna Arnold shot Chris Mikrut a dirty look.
The Crown Point coach was describing how he believed the Bulldogs’ collective team defense this season might be among the best they’ve had, and the erstwhile star defender didn’t quite appreciate the comments.
Consider it Arnold’s competitive spirit bubbling up. Mikrut just smiled, having become accustomed to that intensity from her.
You see, Arnold started at center back each of her first three seasons at Crown Point, quite possibly establishing herself as the area’s best defender along the way.
But with the graduation of Sarah Rivich and Rachel Marczewski and Courtney Farrell — combined with the Bulldogs’ group of returning defenders, in front of top-notch goalkeeper Meghan Morasan — Arnold has moved to center midfield this season, the main cog in an effort to fill that rather large void at the position.
“As a defender, it’s hard to get noticed, but she did, because she’s been that good,” Mikrut said. “Now, we’re excited for her to show her all-around play. It’s great for her to have this opportunity, and really showcase herself.
“There’s no question it’s an adjustment, being our best defender for the last three years and now asking her to be one of our best offensive players. But we have all the confidence in the world that she’s going to be able to do it. With the kids we have to replace, for us to have as much confidence in this team as we do, it’s because of Jenna.”
With several of her teammates hurt and fatigued, Arnold got a taste of playing center midfield toward the end of Crown Point’s semistate championship game last season against South Bend St. Joseph’s.
Then, she actually played the position some with her new club team. Still, Arnold has been a defender for virtually her entire life, prompting her to describe the move as “kind of scary.”
“It’s definitely a big change,” Arnold said. “It’s been a transformation. But all the center mids are doing a good job, my teammates are helping me out. We’re getting into the flow of things.”
And Arnold expects nothing less than excellence.
“The success we’ve had the last few years, our leaders have been our hardest workers — (Sammy) Vercellino, (Beth) Rothrock, (Abi) Small, Rivich — and she falls into that same group of kids,” Mikrut said. “She’s a talented kid, but her work ethic is so much fun to watch. She’s her own toughest critic. It’s not always the best thing to dwell on it, but she’s been better about it this year.”
Arnold has had that demanding attitude for as long as she can remember. She called her sister, Jorie, a 2004 Crown Point graduate who was part of the Bulldogs’ first semistate team in 2003, “my hero.”
And she credited former teammates for being “role models,” motivating and pushing her to play even harder.
“I love winning, and I’d do anything for it,” Arnold said. “Whatever the team needs, I’m going to do it. Going to semistate the past two years, everyone in the whole program knows where Crown Point stands.
“We have fun and fool around, but we know when to take it seriously. It’s hard to be on top when everyone is coming after you, there’s pressure, but we’re going to do everything we can to stay on top.”