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'Incredible work ethic': St. Charles North's Cece Wahlberg is the 2019 Courier-News Girls Soccer Player of the Year

St. Charles North's Cece Wahlberg, front, tries to control a bouncing ball while shielding it from Barrington's Ellie McCauley during a game on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

It’s not easy trying to classify St. Charles North senior Cece Wahlberg, and it really never has been.

She made her reputation as a sophomore by playing midfielder. She showed great touch, ball control and the ability to create for others.


But as a junior, Wahlberg willingly sacrificed personal numbers, shoring up an inexperienced back line and displaying a natural aptitude for being a defender.

“People think it is such a big difference playing defense or offense,” said Wahlberg, who was named all-area and all-sectional in 2018. “But it still is just about the flow of the game. It was not too hard to adjust.”


For this season, Wahlberg returned to her natural role as a midfielder, and St. Charles North enjoyed great success.

Led by Wahlberg — the 2019 Courier-News Girls Soccer Player of the Year — the North Stars advanced to a Class 3A supersectional for the fourth straight season.

That’s not wholly coincidental.

“She just got better with every game,” St. Charles North coach Brian Harks said of Wahlberg. “She has grown in skill, knowledge and leadership.

“She is very talented and understands the game, but it’s her incredible work ethic that has driven her improvement. She continues to be better than she was the day before.”

In that manner, Wahlberg scored 13 goals and added eight assists for the North Stars (19-2-2), who shared the Naperville Invitational title with 3A state runner-up Barrington.

St. Charles North's Cece Wahlberg (16) clears the ball away from Barrington's Ellie McCauley during a game on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

“I think what made us such a special team is that we had great chemistry from our goalie (Sara Maleski) all the way up to our offense and even our bench,” Wahlberg said. “Nobody was ever quiet and I think that really helped.”

The disappointment of not reaching state has faded. St. Charles North had much to celebrate, including a 58-game unbeaten streak in the regular season that spanned three years.


“I am going to remember the friendships I made, even starting off my freshman year of meeting upperclassmen and not feeling nervous about it,” Wahlberg said. “Everybody was so friendly and open-armed, and it was a great environment.”

As the youngest of three sisters who excelled in St. Charles North’s program, she also represents the last link of a proud generation.

Her oldest sister Ellie is a rising senior at Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her middle sister, Gia, is a rising sophomore at Michigan State.

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Cece, an Indiana State recruit, has been preparing for the next stage of her life. She attended multiple games to watch her sisters play last fall, gaining a keener grasp of the subtleties of the college game.

“I think what I am looking forward to the most is playing at the next level and experiencing it with a new coach and new players,” she said. “I have been playing with the same team almost my whole life.

“This is going to be a different environment, which I think is cool.”


Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.