Illiana Christian's Emma Pawlowski wouldn't have had it any other way.
Seniors Tiffany Groen, Annie Brucer, Alex Clausing, and Pawlowski, have all been four-year varsity players and make up the backbone of an Illiana Christian team that is looking to be a tough out come playoff time.
The Vikings are 10-2-2 this season while going 4-2 in Metro Suburban Conference play, and simply put, Illiana Christian is a team that grinds out wins.
The Vikings may not be blowing teams out, but they aren't getting blown out either. Illiana Christian's two losses have been by a combined two goals. The Vikings are a team that stays in games and more often then not, finds a way to get the win.
"I'll miss these four girls like I always miss my seniors when they are gone, but these girls are kinda special to me," Viking coach AJ Turkstra said. "Just the other day, I was teasing them about that, how we've been on so many trips and bus rides, so many wins and losses together."
Pawlowski has become a set shot specialist for the Vikings, recording six goals this year on free kicks. Her free kick goal in the 77th minute of a tied match against Riverside Brookfield on May 6 lifted the Vikings to the late win.
"I wouldn't have had it any other way," Pawlowski said. "I mean with us four and being together. With the free kicks, I don't know, I just like placing it."
Brucer missed some time with an ankle injury this season, but the senior sweeper is back in time for the playoffs and ready to help move the Vikings toward a regional title.
"Each year we've progressed significantly," Brucer said. "It's definitely been a learning process each year. You grow closer together and you learn the ways of your teammates."
Groen echoed Brucer's thoughts on how the journey has been filled with plenty of learning and growing opportunities.
"It's been a journey where you build character on and off the field," Groen said. "You learn a lot of leadership over the four years. You learn encouraging your teammates goes a long way."
Clausing is a captain for the Vikings and a constant presence in the midfield.
"Us four specifically, we've gotten to know each other personally and where each of us is on the field," Clausing said. "Some years you have a strong offense or a strong defense, this year we have both."
For this year's team to take the next step, the Vikings will need to find a way to come away with a regional crown.
The Vikings play Evergreen Park in the opening round of the Class 2A Evergreen Park Regional, and barring a major upset, Illiana Christian should find themselves in the championship. The Vikings' last regional title came in 2011.
"It would be great to bring home another regional trophy," Brucer said. "But just the whole thing of being through varsity soccer with these girls has been great."