CALUMET CITY | The Munoz sisters of the Thornton Fractional girls soccer team simply have soccer in the blood.
Even at a young age the sisters, Elizabeth, Andrea, and Monica, have had soccer as a big part of their lives. At times, they have had to do some traveling to practice it, including three-hour bike rides into Chicago.
"My dad's been pushing us since we were little," Elizabeth said. "We rode our bikes from Calumet City to downtown. That's how much we were in it. In the summer we would do it every day."
From as early an age as 4, the girls have been a part of youth soccer leagues and over the years have acquired the skills needed to help Thornton Fractional in a big way now that the girls have reached the high school level.
It's been five years since T.F. North and T.F. South first combined under the name of the United for an indoor soccer team, and with the team now looking as formidable as ever, the two schools have never been more united than now.
"During that time Manchester United was pretty popular in the media," Thornton Fractional coach Alejandro Lagunas said. "I recommended to the kids why don't you kids just go with T.F. United. And it stuck."
The United are having the best season in the co-op program's history, and the Munoz girls are a large part of that success.
Some changes to the United defense early in the season included sending senior Jamie Kats into the back to help solidify the team's defense, and since then Thornton Fractional has emerged as a stronger team.
"We were all over the place," Elizabeth, a senior defender said. "Coach Lagunas taught us how to position ourselves which really helped us to improve on our defense."
Even from an early age, the Munoz girls have been given plenty of support by their biggest soccer fans of all, their parents.
"Our whole family we're like a big soccer family," Andrea said. "We've always been really active since we were little kids. Our parents are our main supporters of where we are now."
Freshman Monica Munoz knows that the support her father gives the girls is something that translates into on the field success for the United. The girls have seen their skills sharpened through years and years of league and club play.
"He's always pushing us to do our best," Monica said. "Even if we don't want to he pushes us. And it's good because look where we are now."
Andrea, a junior midfielder and forward for the United, also knows of another place the girls can look to for encouragement and motivation when they need it.
"If it's not my dad we push each other to get where we are now," Andrea said.
And the levels which the Munoz sisters have helped the United reach are higher than the team has ever been. This season has already included a 10-game winning streak and a first-place finish at the Reavis Invitational. The United almost captured first place at Illiana Christian's Paarlberg Park Invitational earlier in the season but were eventually defeated in overtime of the championship by the host Vikings.
The United are looking for bigger and better things in 2012 and with plenty of youth on the roster, Thornton Fractional is becoming a team with a bright future even after the 2012 season.
"This is my first year but I want to make it a strong first year," Monica said. "I want it to be undefeated, even though we lost some games, I want it all to be undefeated."