The final four of the Illinois High School Women's Lacrosse Association state tournament is set.
No. 4 seed Hinsdale Central will face No. 1 seed Loyola at 5 p.m. Wednesday at North Central College in Naperville. The nightcap features No. 3 seed Lake Forest against No. 2 seed New Trier (7 p.m. first draw control).
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The survivors meet Friday at Northwestern University in Evanston for the state championship.
Hinsdale Central reached the state semis by scoring a 13-12 win over Glenbrook South, while Lake Forest barely survived Montini, 10-9, in one of the other supersectional games. Montini was the No. 6 seed in the tournament.
Montini update: The Broncos finished the year 11-7, but won the Southwest Suburban Conference title with a 5-0 mark. Prior to Lake Forest, the Broncos downed Fenwick (19-5) and Mother McAuley (22-10) in the playoffs.
One player who really turned it on in the end for the Broncos was Vaida Spekus.
"She returned from an early-season injury (broken wrist) to come back huge in the last 3 games," said Montini co-coach Virginia Kosenkova. "She had a combined 17 goals in the three contests, two of which were playoff games."
Hailey Adams also stepped things up for the Broncos this season.
"Hailey has also come into her own in her senior year," said Kosenkova. "She is a key recipient on clears and has amassed a high number of returns over the opposite restraining line (unstatable). She is a key performer in the midfield and our transitions would suffer without here. Hailed started playing lacrosse last May and has risen to be an all-conference player."
Fran Meyer, an all-state and all-American nominee, led the Broncos with 70 goals to go with 17 assists, 56 groundballs, 6 interceptions, 22 caused turnovers and 65 draw controls.
All-conference selection Meghan Harte finished with 30 goals, 14 assists, 25 groundballs and 6 caused turnovers to go with 33 draw controls. Molly Marciniak finished with 42 goals, 6 assists, 28 groundballs, 5 interceptions, 5 caused turnovers and 26 draw controls. Goalie Michelle Marten, another all-conference selection, had 122 saves. Meyer, in addition to her state and national nominations and spot on the national team, was also an all-conference pick.
Senior Shea Mahoney was cited for strong play in the playoff game against Mother McAuley.
"Shea had a phenomenal game against Mother McAuley, stopping two shots," said Kosenkova. "As a senior, she has finally made the strides to be one of the best low defenders we have, staying strong on 1-on-1s and crease rolls alike. Shea earned back a starting position midway through the season and has become a very dependable player."
Montini was felled by numerous injuries throughout the year.
"Though we had hopes of a very competitive season, we faltered a bit after injuries devastated some of our top players," said Kosenkova.
Both Division I recruits Erin Steiner and Sarah Lugo were lost to ACL injuries, while two more high-ankle sprains and two additional knee injuries followed. Transfer Frankie Kamely also was ineligible to play this year.
"In spite of that, the younger class of sophomores and returning juniors really picked up their games and took on the pressure of the team," said Kosenkova. "Both Michelle (co-coach Sebastian) and I were pleased to see great improvement in starting freshmen and sophomores in the last playoff games. The influx of injuries forced our younger players to step up and take on the leading roles in the team. Despite two injured Division I athletes, we bounced back very well, and with the assistant of captain Fran Meyer, came into the playoffs just as strong."
Hinsdale Central update: The Red Devils, through late last week, were 17-3 overall and won the West Suburban Conference title with a 5-0 record.
In the state playoffs, Hinsdale Central easily downed Metea Valley (18-7) and Stevenson (17-7) and then edged Glenbrook South 13-12 to advance to the state final four Wednesday at North Central College.
"Glenbrook South was a great game that came down to the very end," said Hinsdale Central coach Lindsay Owens "Glenbrook South played its hearts out. It was a very tough battle. They had a great season."
Hinsdale Central goalie Victoria St. Martin registered numerous key saves in the final seconds of the game.
Through late last week, junior attack Amy O'Grady was leading the team offensively, while senior Alex Olsen was leading the way on defense.
O'Grady, Olsen, Chelsea Boyle, Cassie Floersch, Jacquie Edwards and Kate Christian were all-conference selections, while O'Grady, Olsen, Boyle, Floersch and Edwards were all-state and all-American nominees.
"The season has been going well," said Owens late last week. "Being such a young team and losing 13 seniors to graduation last year, players have stepped up and really gelled as a unit. I am very proud of how hard the girls have worked and come together as one."
Owens has been impressed with how her team improved on attack, cutting hard in the 8 and with finishing shots.
Owens also had kind words about the efforts of Floersch and Mary Katherine Pyle.
"Mary Katherine and Cassie have done a great job on the defensive end," she said. "These players have marked up on teams' top players and have endless hustle every game."
Fremd update: Fremd finished the season 11-7 overall and 2-2 in Mid-Suburban League play. The Vikings played Barrington in the sectional semifinals. It was the second meeting of the two teams this season.
"After a great week of practice leading up to the game, the team was primed and ready for the rematch," said Fremd coach Jake Hughes.
Barrington downed Fremd 14-4 in the earlier meeting and jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage in the rematch.
"It looked like we were headed down a similar path," said Hughes.
But junior midfielder Patty Miller scored 3 goals to bring Fremd back to a 3-3 tie. Strong defense and goalie Lisa Van helped Fremd stay close at halftime (Barrington led 6-5 at half).
"We were in it and knew we had a chance for the upset," said Hughes.
Barrington went on to win 12-8.
"It was nice to see the girls go out and compete so fiercely and with confidence to finish the year, even in a loss," said Hughes. "It's an attitude and style of play I hope we can roll into next season."
Fremd was led this season by the trio of juniors Miller (47 goals, 9 assists), Maclaine Purdy (42 goals, 9 assists) and Katie Mullen (53 goals, 3 assists). Miller and Mullen are midfielders and Purdy plays center. Miller was a repeat all-MSL pick, while Purdy and Mullen earned all-MSL honors for the first time.
"I can't say enough about this trio of attacks," said Hughes. "The three of them are atop the single-season scoring records for Fremd and they still have one year to go. Their athleticism is awesome to watch and as they continue to improve their overall lacrosse skills, it will be interesting to see what kind of season they can have next year."
Van, a junior, had 131 saves and a 7.89 goals-against average.
"We made a lot of strides in the right direction this year and will not overlook that," said Hughes, "but we have not yet accomplished all that we want. We will definitely come back next year with the conference title on our short list of goals to accomplish."
Carmel update: The first-year Corsairs accomplished plenty on the lacrosse pitch this season.
"I was very proud of our first-year program," said Carmel coach Jim Lasky. "Instead of naming the standouts and stat leaders, I would like to recognize all the behind-the-scenes people who never get the handshake they deserve. The season was a success because referees, coaches and parents take the time to promote a game. Playing a sport teaches character and helps you prepare for challenges in life."
On the field, Lasky was impressed with how the team improved with its passing.
"The ball will always move faster than you," said Lasky. "When the girls figured that out, they had more fun. Our defense needs improvement, but we have a couple superstars coming back next year."
Lasky also lauded the efforts and expertise of assistant coach MT Lee.
"My biggest unsung hero is my assistant coach," he said. "I am a very passionate coach and she had to calm me down several times. She also communicates and relates to our team very well. She and I look forward to a great future at Carmel Catholic."
Metea Valley-Waubonsie Valley update: The Metea Valley-Waubonsie Valley co-op team finished up the year 8-9 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
Metea-Waubonsie started the playoffs with a 9-8 victory in overtime against Naperville Central.
"Naperville Central came out with a very strong effort, taking very good offensive posessions and controlling the temp of the first half," said Metea-Waubonsie coach Mike Wegrzyn.
Naperville Central led 5-2 at halftime.
"Their midfield pressure did not allow us opportunities to fast break," said Wegrzyn. "Addy Hubbard and Sarah Ley kept us in the game with their intensity on attack. "Defenders Melina Ressing, Nicole Lantero and Olivia Javornick held Naperville Central's attack at bay while our offense was struggling to possess the ball."
Draw specialist Christine Trocsinski placed the ball in the hands of top attacker Kim Rowell 12 seconds into the second half to cut the lead to 5-3. On the ensuing draw, Trocsinski repeated her efforts and found Rowell again for her second goal in 28 seconds.
A back and forth remainder of regulation saw Sarah Ley and Rowell both finish with 4 goals in regular time. Naperville Central scored with 40 seconds left in regulation
In the first overtime, Emily Haynes and Amanda Levin double-teamed a Naperville Central attacker, causing a turnover. Haynes scooped up the ground ball and took it the length of the field and fired off the game-winning shot.
In the second overtime, Metea-Waubonsie was able to stall out the remaining time to hang on for the win.
"Naperville Central played with a lot of intensity that was tough to match," said Wegrzyn. "I know Adam Washington (Naperville Central coach) worked hard with those girls because they improved a lot between the time we played them in the season and the playoff game. He should be really proud of their efforts."
In the loss to Hinsdale Central, Metea-Waubonsie trailed 13-0 against the No. 4-ranked team in the state. Hinsdale Central scored 15 seconds into the game.
Levin had Metea-Waubonsie's first goal.
"Even though the game got out of hand quickly, our girls never stopped hustling on the field," said Wegrzyn. "All the seniors, especially Addy Hubbard, Becca Neuman and Christine Trocsinski made sure to leave everything they had on the field. In the second half I truly believe we outhustled Hinsdale Central and we were able to hold them scoreless for the first 8 minutes of the half."
Metea-Waubonsie scored 4 goals in a row at one point.
Rowell led the way with 4 goals. Hubbard, Javornick and Ley each finished with 2 caused turnovers.
Rowell finished the year with 59 goals, 16 assists, 50 groundball controls, 18 caused turnovers and 32 draw controls. Javornick had 2 goals, 46 groundball controls, 6 interceptions and 29 caused turnovers (13th in the state), to go with 25 draw controls. Rowell, Javornick and Haynes were all-conference selections.
"The season was hugely successful," said Wegrzyn. "Last year was our first year as a varsity team. We finished the year with 2 wins. This year, we came in with the goals of winning more games than last year and winning a playoff game. We accomplished both goals through hard work and determination. The girls came to practice ready to better themselves in order to accomplish our tasks."
Wegrzyn saw his squad make advancements in a number of different areas.
"This year was truly a team effort all around on attack, defense and transition," he said. "We became more confident in our teammates and used them more. More than 50% of our goals this year were assisted from teammates. The girls tried to find each other to create the better shot. On defense, the girls bought into team defense and understood that if a goal was scored against us, it was not the goalies fault or just one girl, it was everyone's. In transition, the girls knew to move the ball fast. They had to pass it. It was great to see the girls find the open girls no matter who it was and make the pass. Against Hinsdale Central, this was incredibly important because their transition defense is very aggressive and quick. We were able to slowly move the ball up the field using our whole team."
Wegrzyn labeled Melina Ressing, Katie Fee and Nicole Lantero as the team's unsung heroes on defense.
"These seniors worked hard every day and didn't necessarily get the states, but they really limited the other team's scoring opportunities. If I kept stats on tipped passes, these girls would have had numerous ones."
Trocsinski aided the tea with her strong play on draws.
"Down the stretch, she took more than 75 percent of our draws," said Wegrzyn. "She went up against some of the best drawers in the state and was able to place the ball in position for our girls to pick it up. She didn't rack up the stats, but her drawing ability gave us the opportunities to win the draws."
Hubbard came back to play in the postseason after missing a majority of the regular season with a concussion.
"She really stepped up her intensity in transition defense and transition attack," said Wegrzyn. "I truly believe in our first playoff game, she inspired her teammates to increase their ability with her level of play."
Glenbard West update: The Hilltoppers finished the year 13-8 and 3-2 in West Suburban Conference play (tied for second with Oak Park-River Forest and Lyons Township).
Glenbard West edged Libertyville 17-16 in a barnburner opening playoff game. The Hilltoppers led 15-6 at one point.
"Libertyville came storming back with 9 unanswered goals," said Glenbard West coach Bob Regan. "It was an exciting, action-packed game that kept everyone on the edge of their seats."
Glenbard West then dropped a 14-3 game to New Trier in the sectional final. Glenbard West held New Trier scoreless for 17 minutes in the second half.
Freshmen Jamie Bishop and Katy Ludington had strong seasons on the varsity. Bishop was second on the team in goals with 39 and draw controls with 48 and was third in assists (10), groundballs (50), interceptions (5) and caused turnovers (16).
Ludington led the team in ground balls (65) and caused turnovers (30) and capped off the season with a strong playoff performance against New Trier.
"Katy has been fearless all season and really stepped it up," said Regan. "She has been a solid performer all season."
Junior attack Sara Letmanski finished the year with 69 goals and 11 assists. Junior attack Emily Molloy had 22 goals and 4 assists, while junior midfielder Kathleen Caffrey had 20 goals and 7 assists. Senior midfielder Kirsten Ward finished with 18 goals and 24 assists.
Glenbard West finished 12th in the state in defense with a 9.29 goals-against average.
In addition to Ludington, senior Vittoria Pagliuco and juniors Kaitlin Urick and Hailey Walch anchored the defense.
"Our defense gave many teams fits trying to get to our goal," said Regan. "When they did, teams then had to deal with Clare Byrne (goalie). It was a very effective combo."
Byrne, a senior, once again enjoyed an outstanding season. She will play at Mount Union next year.
Byrne played every minute for Glenbard West the last three years (3,245 minutes), made 836 saves and had an 8.26 goals-against average to go with a 60.09 save percentage.
This season, Byrne played 1,050 minutes and made 277 saves and had a 9.27 goals-against average and a 58.70 save percentage.
"Clare is Glenbard West's all-time leader in every goalie category," said Regan. "It will be very hard to replace such a great competitor like Clare."
Byrne, Letmanski, Bishop. Ward and Ludington earned all-conference honors.
"I knew going into this season we were young, and being so we would make mistakes," said Regan. "However, I did expect to win ore than we lost and it ended up that way. We had eight 1-goal games (4-4). I think that will be different next year. The three freshmen (Hailey Gorski, Bishop and Ludington) really stepped up and did a solid job all eyar. Sophomore Ella Zurawski has done an outstanding job playing midfield (12 goals, 11 assists, 48 groundballs, 3 interceptions, 10 caused turnovers, 26 draw controls). They have all played above and beyond expectations. It will be fun having them all back next year. They will only continue to get better. We only lose 5 seniors, so next year could be real interesting. Our defense did another great job holding down the scores and giving us a shot in every game. Our juniors have become our backbone. Sara Letmanski, Hailey Walch, Kaitlin Urick, Kathleen Caffrey, Loni Cohen and Emily Molloy all contributed to the success of the year's team."
Regan was especially impressed with Caffrey's improvement.
"Cathleen has really come into her own as a player and had great games in the playoffs," he said. "Over the course of the season, she is probably the most improved player."
Cohen was another player critical to the team's success.
"Loni starts and grinds it out every game," said Regan. "She's not a big scorer or big on any statistic, but always makes her presence known. She will come up with a groundball, caused turnover or an assist to help us through games. Loni had a huge day in our Wisconsin tournament, helping us sweep three games including beating the No. 1 team in Wisconsin (Arrowhead High)."
Regan also praised the work ethics of Annie Lemenager, Gorski and Urlick.
"They are players who work hard and contribute to our overall success," he said.
Regan saw his team progress in handling defensive transition pressure and moving the ball up the field.
"I could see the confidence of our younger players grow as the season progressed and we become more cohesive as a unit," said Regan.
Stevenson update: The Patriots closed out the year with a 14-6 mark and went 3-2 in conference, which earned it a second-place finish in the North Suburban Conference.
The Patriots downed Lake Zurich 11-8 in the sectional semifinals. Junior Jennifer Schultz had 5 goals, while seniors Kelsey Patten and Rachael Banas each had 2 goals. Julie Clemens and Nikki Brodeur each had a goal. Emily Loretto led the defense in gaining control of the ball from Lake Zurich.
Stevenson dropped an 18-8 contest in the sectional final to Hinsdale Central. Banas had 4 goals, while Brodeau had two goals and Erin Rice and Makala Udoni each had a goal.
Banas led the Patriots with 57 goals (ninth in the state in average goals per game). Schultz had 47 goals and Patten had 29 assists (she ranked fifth in the state in assists and third in average number of assists). Banas added 19 assists and Rice had 17. Udoni led the Patriots with 23 draw controls. Banas had 22 and Rice had 15.
Patten had 83 groundball controls. She was 10th in the state in interceptions and fifth in caused turnovers. Lily Walker had 46 groundballs (7th in the state in interceptions) and Loretto had 43.
Senior goalie Alyssa Gorenberg ended the year with 155 saves (334 shots) and had a 53.00 save percentage, which ranked fifth in the state.
Banas, Patten and Udoni were nominated for all-state honors. Patten, Banas, Gorenberg, Loretto and Walker were all-conference first-team selections, while Rice Udoni, Schultz, Laura Elsesser and Brodeur were all-conference second-team picks.
Loretto won the IHSWLA sportswoman award, while Elsesser, Udoni, Walker and Loretto were nominated for academic all-American honors.
"The season went better than planned," said Stevenson coach Janette Eichfeld, who cited consistency and teamwork as two key improvement staples this season. "This team worked long hours to be as competitive as possible throughout the season. The JV and frosh-soph teams were highly successful as well so next season's expectation has risen to a new standard."
Eichfeld noted senior Sheela Jayaraman and Elsesser were two additional key components to the team's success.
"Sheela is a utility player who could step into any position when needed and play a very consistent game," she said. "Laura broke her wrist toward the last third of the season, and working with the trainer, played the final games with a padded cast. She figured out how to play with her non-dominant hand nearly as proficiently as she did her dominant hand."
Lake Zurich update: The Bears finished 7-11 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Lake Zurich dropped an 11-8 contest to Stevenson in the sectional semifinals. It was the third time the two teams met this year. Stevenson won the previous two contests in overtime and by a single goal.
"Last year we beat them three times in the three meetings and this year they beat us all three times," noted Lake Zurich coach Julie Bryniczka.
Emily Handrahan led the Bears with 3 goals. Handrahan finished the season fourth in the state in goals scored with 79. She also had 63 groundballs and 39 caused turnovers.
Sophomore attack Sarah Frommelt had 35 goals, while senior midfielder Gina Barbaglia had 30 goals and led the team in assists. Senior center Jessica Kittle had 31 goals and led the team in draw controls.
Sophomore midfielder Danielle Smith led the team in groundballs and junior midfielder Maddie Carrigan was among the leaders in draw controls and groundballs.
Senior goalie Alexandra Sopocy finished in the top 10 in the state in save percentage.
Handrahan, Smith and Kittle were all-conference first-team picks, while Rachel Krasavage, Eden Ezsak and Sopocy were all-conference second-team selections. Barbaglia won the conference sportsmanship award.
"We didn't win as many games as we wanted, but I was impressed that the team kept fighting," said Bryniczka. "Five games that we lost were decided by 3 goals or less and anyone that watches lacrosse knows that 3 goals is not a lot considering a goal can be scored easily in 20 seconds."
Bryniczka saw her team improve its communication skills as the season wore on.
"They realized that most goals that were scored were because of a communication breakdown," she said. "I find it's one of the hardest skills to teach a team and our girls continually recognized it was something as a team that they could continue to work on. They knew it would take all 12 teammates on the field communicating to win games."
Bryniczka was especially pleased with senior attack Jaclyn Papa's consistent and positive attitude and Krasavage's never-give-up attitude and versatility, as well as Frommelt's strong shot placement and scoring dependability.
Palatine update: The Pirates finished the year 12-5 overall and 3-1 in MSL play.
Palatine upset No. 16 seed Wheaton United in the first round of the playoffs. Rose Silveira had 5 goals in the game. Defender Shannon Norris held the third-leading scorer in the state, Jeannine Fischer, to 1 goal with strong defensive play.
Palatine then dropped a 19-4 game to top-ranked Loyola.
"They are No. 1 for a reason," said Palatine coach Leslie Schock.
Seniors Silveira and Marcy Karabin closed out their careers at Palatine with 2 goals each against the defending state champions.
Silveira ended the year with 48 goals and 16 assists. Karabin had 54 goals, while junior attack Jamie Lloyd had 29 goals and 12 assists. Junior Lacey Serafino led the team with 20 groundballs.
Goalie Veronika Metanova had 198 saves and a 7.00 goals-against average. Silveira, Karabin, Metanova and Serafino were named to the all-conference team.
"The season went really well," said Schock. "Upsetting Wheaton United was a high point. Also, it was the first time we have beaten Barrington in the regular season since our program was started. Even though we got beat by Loyola, it was great for the girls to see and play against the highest level of competition in the state. The returning players learned a lot."Schock saw a strong progression with the team's offense.
"Our offense really improved as we looked to play more and more as a team," she said. "We started putting in set plays and the girls played very unselfishly. Our defense really started to come together at the end and with three of the starting defenders returning, we should be tough next year."
Palatine returns starters in freshman midfielder Maria Charlier, sophomore defenders Shannon Norris, Megan Wang and Emily Blair, as well as juniors Serafino Jamie Lloyd, Amy Schneider, Khansa Bibi and Metanova.
The team loses seniors Reggie Martarano, Silveira (4-year varsity starter), Karabin, Chava Krivchenia, Sam Skach, Ashley Geraghty and Alyssa Blair.
"We will miss the seniors," said Schock.
Freshman Charlier has been playing lacrosse for less than a year, but started every game for the Pirates.
"She has an amazing amount of potential and she did not play like a freshman," said Schock. "She showed remarkable poise in tense situations."
Schaumburg update: The Saxons closed out the year with a 4-13 overall mark and a 1-3 record in MSL action.
Schaumburg dropped an 11-8 game to Naperville North in its playoff opener.
Junior middie attack Megan Huber led the team with 43 goals and 2 assists. Senior middie attack Stephanie Montiel added 30 goals. Senior goalie Samantha Kossack was second in the state with a 64.3 save percentage. Huber and Kossack were all-conference picks.
"Although our record wasn't what we had hoped, we finished the season playing hard and playing as a team which is all a coach can ask for," said Schaumburg coach Drew Lazzara.
Senior center Lynn O'Boyle and senior defender Maggie Gracia were two other key contributors.
"Lynn didn't always show up on the stat sheet, but she was one of our smartest and hardest-working players," said Lazzara. "She also scored 11 goals in our last 4 games. Maggie has been one of our best defenders on the team for the past 4 years. She played almost every minute of every game and was a vocal leader of the team. She will be missed next year."
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