If Bloom Township's three straight Southland Athletic Conference titles don't speak volumes to the importance of Jazmin Aldape's play, there isn't much that will.
Aldape scored 24 goals as a freshman forward in 2011, but Blazing Trojan coach Kelly Gutierrez felt that Bloom needed Aldape in the center midfielder position where she would play a more central and less offensive role for the team.
"She wanted to do the best that she could do for the team," Gutierrez said. "What we needed was someone to be the center mid, which is pretty much the brains of the operation. She took over, and we've won or shared a conference title for three straight years."
Aldape is the Times 2014 Player of the Year. It is also the fourth straight season that Aldape has been a Times All-Area first-team player.
"When I moved to midfield I didn't expect myself to score goals," Aldape said. "I think I was just able to work well with the side midfielders and forwards, and I just settled into the spot quite well. It was easy for me to come in and make that transition."
Aldape made the move three years ago, and Bloom Township went on a three-year run that is going to be hard for the Blazing Trojans to top. The Blazing Trojans were 16-2 in 2014 and 10-0 in SAC play. Bloom's two losses this year came on the first and last matches of the season, a 6-2 loss to Lincoln-Way West on April 1, and a 2-0 loss to Lincoln-Way North in the Class 3A regional championship.
"We're losing a lot of good players this year," Aldape said. "I think it's going to be challenging for the next group of players coming in playing together."
Aldape finishes her career with 65 goals for the Blazing Trojans, and despite moving to the midfield, Aldape has still remained a vital part of the Blazing Trojans offense, scoring 16, 12, and 13 goals in her last three seasons. The senior said she takes plenty of pride in going out on top of the SAC for three consecutive years.
"The toughest team is always Crete-Monee of course and they give us the toughest competition," Aldape said. "We always played very well together when we played against them, and it just always turned into a good game."
Aldape will attend St. Xavier in the fall where she will continue her soccer career.
"She's is going to be a hard one to replace," Gutierrez said. "It's always hard replacing that position, but she's controlled the tempo of the game, and she's controlled the attitude of the players."
Aldape said she is nervous for the next step of playing college soccer.
"I think I am excited, but I'm kind of nervous too," Aldape said. "I'm going to be a freshman all over again. There's some players that I know actually from Bloom so I'll get to play with them again, but overall it's going to be a lot different."