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The captain of the All-Area team, Allon was the driving force behind the Vikings' success and was the only of the area's players to earn Illinois High School Soccer Coach's Association All-State honors. After missing much of her sophomore year through injuries, Allon became one of the top forwards in the area, scoring 38 goals and adding 20 assists in that time. She achieved this success despite being a midfielder converted to forward. She will play midfield for Xavier this fall. "She has that uncanny ability to find the back of the net and finish," Geneva coach Megan Owens said. "It's something the girls game seems to struggle with. Catherine's not a true forward but we did our best to turn her into a forward."
To get a sense of Frasca's effectiveness, you have to be able to hear her. Beyond her positional skill, bravery in making saves and her ability to distribute the ball effectively -- the sophomore is constantly chattering to her team. As a result, Rosary's defenders are frequently where they need to be in order to keep pressure from ever reaching their keeper. "She has everything that you want in a keeper," Rosary coach Kristy Kane said. "She has no fear and she has a big mouth too. She makes sure she knows the game and she makes sure she's always positive." Kane said Frasca's performance against Wheaton Academy, despite the match being a 2-0 Royals' loss, was among her best of the season. Frasca's nonstop chatter was also audible throughout the sectional semifinal upset of Nazareth, then the Royals quieted the home team's crowd through their dominant display.
St. Charles North
Following a breakout sophomore season, Gage suffered a knee injury that left her on the sidelines at the start of the 2012 girls season. From the moment she stepped on the field in midseason, she was an impact player who was her team's most influential frequently in the run to the Class 3A title match. "She just that toughness mentality," North Stars coach Ruth Vostal said. "You look at any part of her life, academics or athletics, and she tries to be the best she can be." Gage played in front of the North Stars' three defenders and was often more of a defensive midfielder or even central midfielder as the team pushed forward. But her true strengths are in her ability to win balls out of the air and as a one-on-one tackler. "She started in midfield, but she does extremely well when she has a lot of field to look to and to be a play maker," Vostal said. Gage's heading ability comes despite the fact that she is hardly one of the North Stars' tallest players.
One of the great "what-if's" of the 2012 season revolves around what Batavia's girls soccer team might have achieved if Alex Hanna had been at full strength the entire campaign. Hanna returned from offseason knee surgery and improved throughout the season, but was still not quite back to 100 percent by the season's end. But there were moments where she showed the devastating player she has always been and will be in the future as she heads to Drake. "I think her leadership has meant a lot to the team," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "I think a lot of girls look to her for guidance and leadership. I think she's done a very good job of that. On the other side of it, she's gotten herself back in it." Hanna adapted to the injury by turning herself from primarily a dribbling player to one who could pass-and-move as well as anyone in the area. And her probing passes forward unlocked a number of defenses.
St. Charles East
If you're looking toward the immediate future of St. Charles East's girls soccer program, look no further than Hilton, who showed the defensive bit and offensive creativity many teams search forever for in a central midfielder. Hilton showed, especially in the postseason, an ability to spray passes from central positions to players on the wings while still occasionally making a more direct forward pass toward goal. She was equally effective with both tactics. "She's like a pit bull," St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. "She's tenacious. She works hard and gives everything she's got. She's very technical, but what she's really got is something you can't coach. She's got a heart that means she will never stop. She'd run through a brick wall if you asked her, and she's the same way with basketball." Jennison asserted that Hilton will continue to improve as a soccer player. "She's only a sophomore, so she's got two years, after which she's only going to go on to greater things," Jennison said.
Forget the year she is in school. Quincy Kellett had the kind of year any high school soccer player would like to have, a 28-goal season that helped propel the Royals to a season in which they won their first sectional game in school history. "She's a great all-around athlete," Rosary coach Kristy Kane. "She's a championship wrestler and she is on the basketball team. She has that drive to score that you can't coach. Some kids don't have it -- she has it. She puts herself in the right place, and with that speed, when she goes to goal, she does a great job." Kellett also scored key goals, including both in Rosary's upset win over host Nazareth in the Class 2A sectionals. While Kellett scored consistently through the season, she received a midseason boost when paired with Molly Piech in the forward line. "That took some time to get that together because we moved Molly around," Kane said. "The second half, with Molly up top with Quincy, every game they got better and more in-tune."
St. Charles North
As St. Charles North powered through six straight postseason wins on its way to a second-place finish in the Class 3A tournament, the North Stars exhibited a very balanced offense. But no matter who else scored, Koehl seemed to find herself on the scoresheet too, including the only goal in the supersectional win over Barrington and one of the team's goals in the 2-1 semifinal victory over Downers Grove South. Koehl finished with 23 goals and 11 assists. "She's a player who came in as a good athlete, had speed and a nose for the goal, but whose game has improved," St. Charles North coach Ruth Vostal said. An example of that overall game for Illinois State-bound Koehl are those 11 assists. As her team's leading scorer, Koehl needed that unselfish ability because she was tightly marked in every one of the North Stars games this season. "She keeps her emotions in check and she has that mental focus," Vostal said.
Every year, there are a number of players who seem "destined" to receive postseason accolades. They are the names on everyone's "players to watch" list and they are the players who have signed to play college soccer a long time before. Then there is Jessica Milanese, who was not high on Batavia's list of players at the start of the season, floated between positions and then found herself as a forward at midseason -- and blossomed into one of the best players in the area. Milanese finished the season with 16 goals. "It's just hard work and perseverance for her, and not accepting 'no' as an answer or being our 21st or 22nd player and just coming out and ascending on our team," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "She's a great team player too. She always passes the credit to the team and that's the culture I want to have." Milanese will attend Illinois this fall and not play soccer.
St. Charles East
When things got frantic in St. Charles East's penalty area this year, Rachel Pottle was one of the players who managed to keep things calm. "She's our captain and our leader," St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison said. "She's led the team on and off the field this year. She's fantastic. I haven't really got enough good words to say about her." Pottle and junior sister Carly Pottle have another characteristic -- they have the toughness that longtime Saints fans will remember from the teams that won many matches. "I thought that we were pretty strong at the back," Jennison said. "There weren't many games that we fell apart." Rachel Pottle played both right back and center back for the Saints this season and excelled in each role. "I don't know if she wants to continue in college, but she certainly could," Jennison said.
For four years, Jessica Saffell has been the main offensive threat for West Aurora, and she's done very well in that role. But in her senior year, Saffell was moved around, playing wide in some matches and playing more withdrawn in others, and the Lewis-bound senior showed she is just as devastating in those roles as well. "She's our go-to girl," West Aurora coach Laura Wagley said. Fortunately the Blackhawks added pieces to the team every year Saffell played, so she had players such as Daniela Bueno or Reilly Kulakowski to support her this year. But when the need for a key run toward goal or an important effort was needed, Saffell was invariably the one taking it. As a result, she was closely marked and did not have much room to operate throughout her career. "She loves the pressure and she loves to prove to people that she can do it," Wagley said. "When we play DVC teams, the better teams, we play her in the middle and she holds everything together." Saffell had 23 goals and 6 assists this year to finish with 67 goals and 17 assists in her career.
A year ago, Geneva coach Megan Owens threw a number of freshman into the varsity starting lineup and the majority found they could not only play but excel at the level. After two years, the Vikings defense -- still dominated by sophomores -- was one of the toughest this year, and Waldoch was largely responsible. "She's done an outstanding job for us," Owens said. "She's never missed a game and she rarely misses a minute of any of those games." Geneva recorded 13 shutouts this season, and Waldoch and her fellow defenders worked together through the season. "With the competition we play, that's tough to do," Owens said. "We would never have had the success we did without Annie and the other defenders back there." Despite being a defender, Waldoch tied forward Catherine Allon for the team lead in assists with 8. "She doesn't just bang the ball but she has a rocket of a shot," Owens said. "It would be a luxury to have her up top, but she's so good defensively."