Waubonsie Valley's Megan Burling is the 2019 Naperville Sun Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Waubonsie Valley's Megan Burling makes a against Naperville Central during the Class 3A East Aurora Sectional semifinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

After playing club, Waubonsie Valley’s Megan Burling made an impressive debut on the high school level.

How impressive?


“No doubt, it’s Burling,” Naperville North coach Steve Goletz said when asked who was the best player in the area this season. “She gets my vote. She’s a game-changer.”

Indeed, the 2019 Naperville Sun Girls Soccer Player of the Year changed most of the games she played in this spring, scoring 27 goals and adding eight assists.


The junior forward boosted the fortunes of a young team in the process, scoring 43 percent of Waubonsie’s goals and having a hand in on 55 percent.

The Warriors (17-3-2) stunned many by winning their first DuPage Valley Conference title and first regional title since 2014 with a roster that had only three seniors.

Waubonsie Valley reached the sectional finals before losing to eventual Class 3A state champion Naperville North, which handed the Warriors two of their defeats.

“I did not think I was going to get this many goals,” Burling said. “Coming into the season, I just wanted to focus on building myself as a player.

“I wasn’t thinking about scoring goals. That is key to winning games. You can’t score without having your mind right. I focus before games on getting clean touches, getting the ball in the right spot.”

Burling proved to be dangerous no matter what spot she was in.

Using a breathtaking combination of speed, foot skills and strength, she found the back of the net in 14 of her team’s 22 games, including 12 games with multiple goals.

Waubonsie Valley's Megan Burling (13) dribbles the ball against Plainfield North in the championship game of the Plainfield Classic on Saturday, April 13, 2019.

Consider that Metea Valley scored 20 goals as a team and Naperville Central had 30.


Burling scored twice in each of her first two games and didn’t slow down even as opponents began keying on her.

She notched five goals in the Warriors’ first three playoff games, and her chemistry with junior forward Grace Setter was as entertaining to watch as it was tough for teams to stop.

That inspired many of Waubonsie’s young players, including sophomore midfielder Jessica Keeley.

“Having Megan and Grace up top is a huge impact on our game,” Keeley said. “I know when Megan and Grace step on the field, they encourage everyone to play so much better, including me.”

Burling earned all-state honors for her offensive numbers, but it was her willingness to do anything asked of her that gained the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

After scoring in the first half against Naperville Central in the sectional semifinals, Burling was asked to play goalkeeper in the penalty kick shootout after starter Nicole Kleronomos was injured.


Despite not having played the position before, Burling stopped the Redhawks’ first penalty kick and the Warriors won the shootout. That can-do attitude permeated the team.

“Everyone just has a great attitude on the field and off the field,” Burling said. “It’s great to have a team that really just wants to win.”

Ultimately, it took the efforts of two Division I-bound seniors to stop Burling.

Wisconsin recruit Maddie Schlecht and Northwestern commit Reilly Riggs helped to hold Burling without a shot in Naperville North’s 3-0 victory in the sectional championship game.

But there’s no reason to think the Warriors won’t resume winning next season. They return nine starters, including Burling and Setter.

“We should have almost the same exact team except for a couple seniors,” Burling said. “Just knowing that we get to come back next season and do it all again is just amazing.”


Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.