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Local players shine for Chicago Red Stars Reserves

OAK BROOK – Abbie Boswell and Lexi Pelafas played on the same club soccer team growing up and played against each other in high school and college.

Now they are back together again.

Boswell, a Woodridge resident who led Naperville North to the 2012 and 2013 state championships, and Wheaton North grad Pelafas are two of several local players on the Chicago Red Stars Reserves.

The Reserves play in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, the top amateur league in the country. The squad is made up of current and former college players.

“I love it,” Boswell said. “The girls are so funny and they’re all just great at soccer. Our coaches are amazing, too, so it’s just altogether an amazing experience.”

Boswell usually has gotten the upper hand when playing against Pelafas, who is an incoming junior at Central Michigan. The two faced each other as freshmen when Boswell was at Ball State.

Boswell transferred to Alabama, and both she and Pelafas led their respective teams in scoring. The two forwards haven’t missed a beat for the Reserves, as evidenced by their performance in the squad’s first two home games in Oak Brook.

Pelafas, who set Central Michigan’s single-season scoring record with 16 goals in the fall, scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss to GSI Pride on July 1. Boswell had a goal and an assist and Pelafas dished two assists in a 5-3 win over Minnesota the following day.

“I always loved playing against Lexi,” Boswell said. “She’s one of my best friends.

“It’s great [to be teammates again]. I loved playing with her in club and we would always connect and score. It’s just great that we are able to do it again.”

Pelafas did have one notable win over Boswell. She scored the game-winning goal her senior year to beat Boswell and the Huskies for the DuPage Valley Conference title. It was one of only 10 games the Huskies lost in Boswell’s career and arguably the most shocking.

Boswell wasn’t surprised Pelafas got the game-winner.

“She’s just tough,” Boswell said. “She’s an amazing player who just goes and goes and doesn’t stop.

“She’s tenacious. I love that about her.”

Pelafas, who played on the Red Stars’ Under-19 team last summer, loves playing for the Reserves.

“It’s been great competition at every practice,” Pelafas said. “We definitely compete with each other and bring high intensity every week to practice and it’s been a really good experience this summer.

“I just go in there and try to make a difference and play off the team. I don’t think too much. I just go out there and do my thing.”

Pelafas said playing with Boswell and another former Naperville North star, Kentucky grad Zoe Swift, has made that task easier.

“It’s great to get back together,” Pelafas said. “We really play off of each other and Zoe has made me a better player this summer.

“She’s so fast. It’s great to watch her and try to learn from her and work off of her. It’s been a very high level.”

Local players have played a big role. The Reserves roster also includes former Hinsdale Central star Syd Griffin, Wheaton Warrenville South alum A.J. Jakuszewski, Downers Grove South grad Emily Wauer, Batavia’s Emily Hess and Geneva resident Hannah Davison.

All but Davison, an incoming Northwestern junior, and Hess, a Marquette sophomore, played at least one year of high school soccer.

“We have at least 30 girls at practice and everyone is top-notch,” Pelafas said. “The Naperville and Wheaton area [produce] the top soccer.

“The coaches around here know that. They push us to be even better than we all are.”

Wauer, a senior forward at Illinois-Chicago, scored in the season-opening 4-1 win against Minnesota but suffered a torn ACL in the next game. Her UIC teammate Jakuszewski and New Hampshire junior Griffin have seen regular action in the midfield, while Davison and Hess are standouts on defense.

Jakuszewski left July 1 to train with a club in Poland for two weeks. She also played against Pelafas and Boswell in high school.

“She’s been doing a phenomenal job at practice,” Pelafas said. “She did a great job in Kansas last week so she got an opportunity to go over to Poland. I’m very proud of her for that and to see the success she has.”

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