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Article updated: 3/28/2013 3:11 PM

Girls soccer: Scouting Northwest

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By Mike Garofola

MSL EAST

Buffalo Grove

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Coach: Pat Dudle (6th year, 46-53-10).

Last year: 14-5-1 (6-4-1), regional champions.

Graduation losses: Carolyn Wieland (F, 2011 all-area, Robert Morris), Katie Okamoto (GK, 7.0 shutouts), Courtney Carlton (D), Nicole Gardner (MF), Paige Smith (MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Carly Brown (MF), Kirsten Erickson (GK), Shannon Guercio (D), JayJay Lowery (D), Kelly VandeMerkt (MF); juniors Sara Brawley (D), Elizabeth Chan (D), Megan Gardner (F), Skylar Groth (MF, all-MSL), Kim Herzog (MF), Allie Ingram (F), Colleen Zickert (MF, all-MSL, 15g, 6a), Kelli Zickert (F, all-MSL, 9g, 5a); sophomores Jesscia Ahumada (MF), Sara Busse (F), Jessica Kovach (MF, all-MSL).

New faces to watch: Sophomore Sarah O'Connor (GK).

Outlook: The Pat Dudle era at Buffalo Grove has entered a new phase: that of The Favorite. The Bison have already delivered a statement of intent this spring when it overwhelmed perennial division power Hersey 5-0 in its conference opener to fuel a 5-0-0 start to become the clear choice to reach the MSL Cup in early May. "It's a fun team to watch and coach, and the great thing about them is they want to get better with each training session and game that we play, and the best part is they are unselfish, which makes them a true team in my mind," says Dudle, who with nearly this same group, led the Bison to its first regional title last spring since 2004. The loss of Wieland and Okamoto should not be overlooked -- Wieland for her ability to hold and strike from nearly anywhere, and Okamoto for her vocal leadership, and dramatic saves when the club needs them most. This year, the Bison have a quartet of fierce attackers. The Zickert twins are the team's focal point, but from the middle of the park, both Groth and Kovach will make the opposition feel like a jigsaw puzzle missing all its pieces. Dudle is confident his new goalkeeper O'Connor, a former field player, will do just fine, and with the help of an aggressive backline of Brawley, Guercio and Lowery in front of the rookie, he might just be correct.

Elk Grove

Coach: Dan Klaus (12th year, 108-111-15)

Last year: 13-8-1 (6-4-1)

Graduation losses: Katie Naughton (D, 3-time all-state, all-area, playing at Notre Dame), Kelli Hubly (F, all-area, all-state, 25 goals, playing at Kentucky), Rachel Prium (MF), Lindsey Vaccarino (D), Jill Zelek (F).

Top returnees: Seniors Sarah Stram (MF), Emily Wary (D, all-MSL), Sarah Kinnard (MF), Stephanie Solis (D), Danielle Czyzewski (F); juniors Nikki Zaino (F, 8g, 7a) Kelly Regan (MF, all-MSL), Melissa Solorio (GK), Jocelyn Potratz (D), Kelly Naughton.

New faces to watch: Sophomore Alexis Olague (D).

Outlook: With both Katie Naughton and Hubly gone and starring at Notre Dame and Kentucky, respectively, the immediate question to coach Dan Klaus is what to do after having the good fortune of two all-state players in 2012. "When you lose two players like Katie and Kelli, it's obviously a tough one to overcome, but we still return a very nice core of experienced, players, and we feel we'll be able to compete with anyone once we get a few things figured out," said Klaus, who in 2002 had another set of all-staters, Jen Buczkowski and Erin Walter. The Grens have been runners-up in the divison three consecutive seasons, and lost to MSL power Schaumburg, and St. Charles North in its regional finals during this same time. Despite the aforementioned graduation losses, the chance for success remains, thanks in part to the backline star (Wary) and the dynamic duo of Zaino and Regan, who each enjoyed some excellent moments in the attack last season, and should not be underestimated.

Hersey

Coach: Brad Abel (9th year, 105-54-27)

Last year: 15-7-2 (8-3-0), MSL East champs

Graduation losses: Megan Boyle (MF, 2-time all-area, all-MSL, Marquette), Nicole Pietro (MF, all-area, 2-time all-MSL, Iowa), Olivia Stastiuk (D, two-time all-area, all-MSL, Purdue), Nicole Gierman (MF, Iowa), Erin Moody (D), Bradley).

Top returnees: Seniors Casey Weyrich (F, all-MSL, 9g), Kaitlyn Smetana (F), Amy Kappelman (MF); juniors Lauren Gierman (MF, all-area, all-MSL, 8g, 12a), Morgan Harris (GK, 14.0 shutouts), Megan Brant (D), Rene Poulos (MF); sophomores Sara Magnuson (D), Kayla Knauss (D), Jessica Schmidt (MF).

New faces to watch: Senior Sarah Mulroe (F); junior Claire Schwaba (MF); sophomores Emma Cook (MF), Anne Korff (D), Abby Wendell (MF), Danielle Papa (MF), Emma Slosar (MF).

Outlook: Led by the star trio of Boyle, Pietro and Stastiuk, the Huskies did the unthinkable by reaching the MSL Cup an unprecedented five consecutive seasons, while producing such a high level of tactical soccer, unmatched in the division. However, that era came to an end with the departure of this terrific trio, and a new identity is forming for longtime coach Brad Abel, who has been at the heart of a successful run almost right from the time he took over. "We lost some big names to graduation, but the group that we have now is a blue collar working type of team, which has shown great work ethic thus far," he said. "So I am confident, if we can play within our system, we can look forward to competing with the top team in the MSLthis season." The Huskies have a natural predator in NIU-bound Gierman. She and Weyrich will create enough havoc to jump-start the attack when needed. During this early transision, Abel will count on his back line, which is one year older following a rookie season which saw GK Harris and her mates Knauss and Magnuson concede just 18 goals in 24 matches.

Prospect

Coach: Tom Froats (11th year, 110-77-30)

Last year: 12-8-3 (4-5-2)

Graduation losses: Megan McCabe (GK, 2-time all-area, all-MSL, 33 career shutouts, playing at Eastern Michigan University), Kelly Iovino (MF, all-MSL, playing at Dominican University), Lauren McNab (MF, playing at University of Indianapolis), Taylor Smith (D, Illinois), Kelly Ziegenfuss (D, Illinois), Jesse Petrovski (F, Michigan), Sara Helwink (F, Illinois), Megan Hood (F, Michigan State), Lexi Phillips (F), Katie Maigler (D, Drake), Emily LaCost (MF, Hope College, MI).

Top returnees: Seniors Elena Cukurs (D, all-MSL), Rachel Suarez (F), Eileen McTigue (GK); juniors Jenny Novak (MF), Sara LaCost (F), Emily Novak (MF), Danielle Hamzeloo (D), Tricia Benson (D); sophomore Rosie Pettenuzzo (MF).

New faces to watch: Seniors Hannah Trezise (D), Lauren Rickett (D); juniors Jenna Grivas (MF), Kim Welk (MF), Kristen Frasco (D); sophomores Maggie Sullivan (MF), Allison McCabe (F); freshmen Martina Kowalczuk (F), Andi Marfilius (F).

Outlook: The Knights lost marvelous record-setting GK McCabe as well as several other veterans who could dictate the tempo of the match. But there's quality back in some key spots, along with a nice infusion of young talent which holds the key to a promising spring for coach Tom Froats, who celebrated his 100th career victory last season. "With the loss of 10 seniors, it will be important for us to find our compass early, but with a strong core of players back, and a good group of young talented players into the mix, we'll have the depth and flexibility needed to approach each and every game at a high level," said Froats. Cukors is a first-class defender, while the Pettenuzo boasts terrific pace, dribbling ability and the creativity needed to lead the attack from the middle of the park.

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Mike Drenth (2nd year, 9-11-2)

Last year: 9-11-2 (0-8-0)

Graduation losses: Anne Marie Lynch (MF, 3-time all-area, all-MSL, 27 career goals, playing at Marquette), Maggie Moran (F, two-time all-area, all-MSL, 28 career goals, playing at Lewis University), Amanda Gunn (D), Elyse Koutas (F), Caitlyn Gastfield (D).

Top returnees: Seniors Evelyn Lopez (F), Monika Cinch (MF); juniors Vanessa Sanchez (D), Mary Collins (MF), Ashley Ingolia (GK), Allie Kemph (D), Sara Ott (MF), Hannah Busse (MF).

New faces to watch: Freshman Dakota Golde.

Outlook: The heart and soul of the Mustangs' program is gone with the loss of four-year star Anne Marie Lynch, along with her running mate Maggie Moran. Both take with them not only impressive records, but also the leadership, drive and work ethic which helped inspire the young and inexperienced players around them. "You could always count on those two to do something when we needed it, and it's going to be kind of strange not seeing either of them out there this season," said Mustangs coach Mike Drenth. Aside from juniors Sanchez and Collins, many of his roster have short varsity resumes. Still, Drenth does have an athletic and active GK in Insolia, and a hanful of others he will count on during this rebuilding season.

Wheeling

Coach: Darren Llewellyn (6th year, 26-65-4)

Last year: 5-14-0 (1-9-0)

Graduation losses: Alexia Laureano (F, running track), Gina Mazzetta (D, playing at Dominican University), Amanda Peterson (MF), Nia Evans (D),

Top returnees: Senior Cindy Castillo (MF, all-MSL); junior Alex Fister (MF); sophomores Emily Peterson (D), Angela Jordan (MF).

Outlook: The Wildcats seem to suffer from the same fate its MSL West rivals from Hoffman Estates each spring which tests the overall depth of the big club. "We have our share of injuries, kids leaving for other sports, and many who have to work or babysit, but the girls we have love soccer, and being a part of a team, so we'll train and teach them the best that we can, and I guarantee you they will play with honor and pride each time out," says Wildcats coach Darren Llewellyn, who will lean on all-sectional midfielder Castillo; she plans to play at Robert Morris College next fall.

MSL WEST

Barrington

Coach: Ryan Stengren (6th year, 93-26-9)

Last year: 19-6-0 (10-1-0), MSL West champs), lost to St. Charles North (1-0) in supersectional final.

Graduation losses: Sara Condon (MF, all-area, all-MSL) Samantha Frank (D, playing at Wheaton College), Anna Burnidge (MF, playing at Wheaton College), Abby Taplett (D), Ally Peterson (MF), Kathryn Avedon (F).

Top returnees: Seniors Molly Pfeiffer (MF, all-state, two-time all-area, all-MSL, 14g, 7a, commited to Marquette), Aimee Pierce (MF, all-area, all-MSL, 7a), Emily Morin (D, all-MSL), Meredith Slott (D), Hollis Anderson (MF); juniors Mia Calamari (MF, all-MSL), Elli Ackerman (F, 6g), Gabby McLaurin (D), Emily Decraene (D), Alex Avers (MF); sophomores Hannah Luedtke (GK, 14 shutouts), Jenna Szczesny (F, 10g), Megan Fox (MF).

New faces to watch: Seniors Jennifer Flannery (MF); juniors Katie Hoots (MF), Carrie Caplin (D), Gillian Hood (D); sophomores Alexa Durgis (GK), Kelsey Muniz (MF), Annalise Avers (MF).

Outlook: The reigning queens of the MSL are also among the state elite this spring, thanks in part to a strong bunch of returning players, including its all-state MF Pfeiffer. She helped guide the Fillies to their second MSL Cup in three seasons, and fifth in program history. "Everyone understands we'll have a target on our backs this season, and that we probably be rated pretty high in the polls, but I feel this team can handle the pressure of all of that," said coach Ryan Stengren, who will make it a priority to add to the trophy case come early June. "Our leadership is very strong, and they know we can't rest on any of our laurels, but we're still a work in progress at this point." With most of the 2012 MSL championship players back, along with some exciting new talent, depth is not a major concern. Pfeiffer and Calamari patrol the middle of the park, while Szczesny looks ready to become a 20-plus goal-scorer. The Fillies' defense was at its best last season when it counted, and although it lost three key figures, it does have back Emily Morin, who is a marvlous and composed back-liner. Sophomore GK Luedke (0.45 goals-against) has grown by leaps and bounds after an all-star rookie season.

Conant

Coach: Jason Franco (8th year, 98-44-12)

Last year: 18-4-0 (10-1-0), regional champion, lost to Schaumburg (2-1) in sectional semifinals.

Graduation losses: Courtney Raetzman (F, three-time all-state, 4 time all-area, two-time Daily Herald all-area captain, 2012 All-American, 71 career goals, playing at Kentucky), Kelsey Foss (D, three-time all-area, two-time all-MSL, playing at Winona State), Sammie van de Linde (MF, all-MSL, 12a, playing at Winona State), Chrissy Rosales (MF, 2011 all-area, two-time all-MSL), Sam Armando (F, Winona State), Kim Trinco (D, University of Dubuque), Brittany Hoffman (MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Alyssa Altosino (MF), Courtney O'Keefe (MF); juniors Drew Wentzel (D), Bianca Madonia (MF); sophomores Leah Celarek (F, all-area, 13g, 10a), Katie Lomas (D), Haley Anderson (GK, 9 shutouts).

New faces to watch: Senior Kayla Severinsen (D); junior Nicole Lorenz (MF); sophomore Sidney O'Keefe (F).

Outlook: Losing quality players to the college game is tough enough, especially when one of them was not only an elite player in the state, but also on the national level. Courtney Raetzman was the rock upon which the Cougars built their wonderful success during her four-year stay, and with her move to Kentucky, along with several others, most notably star defender Kelsey Foss, coach Jason Franco now has the task of masterminding a bit of a rebuilding project as the club goes forward. "We have a nice group of players back, but how do you replace the goals and amazing talent that Courtney brought, as well as the defensive play of Foss?" asks Franco. It surely helps to welcome back some of the area's best players in Wentzel and Celarek, an elusive and explosive goal-scorer who will miss the first 6 weeks with a knee injury. Madonia is back after surgery ended her season last spring and looks ready to go, while both Altosino and Courtney O'Keefe were key figures in the Cougars' 2011 third-place state team.

Fremd

Coach: Steve Keller (13th year, 189-75-25)

Last year: 8-10-3 (3-6-0)

Graduation losses: Emily Basten (D, all-area, all-MSL, playing at Central Michigan), Shannon Norris (GK, all-MSL, 7 shutouts, Minnesota), Kira Heggeland (F, Azousa Pacific), Rachel Freeman (MF), Bekah Bostrom (MF, Illinois State).

Top returnees: Seniors Michelle Mottonen (MF,F, 2011 all-area), Jessa Rizzo (MF), Ashley McConnell (MF), Courtney Norenberg (D), Bri Frys (MF), Carrie Wagner (F), Katherine Ernst (D), Cassie Etelemaki (D).

New faces to watch: Seniors Christine Piasecki (GK), Rachel Tenuta (GK), Hannah Burton (MF,D), Allison Wade (MF,F), Abby Gary (GK), Claire Mitzner (D); juniors Mary-Kate Schiffer (F,MF), Karolina Cholewa (MF), Tracy Bourgon (MF), Meredith Mottonen (D), Rachel Hellwarth (F); sophomores Katie Zara (F), Jessica Kopec (MF).

Outlook: The Vikings seem to thrive on competition and typically find their form during the second half of the season. And once again, if their starting 11 can meet expectations, there could be a serious run at the top of the MSL table before it's all said and done. Yes, superb all-area back-liner Emily Basten is gone, leaving a void in both defending and leadership, but the veteran trio of Ernst, Etelemaki and Norenberg should offset the loss of its captain. Meanwhile, the return of Mottonen from club soccer and the arrival of basketball standout McConnell will help freshen up the attack. "We're going to miss Basten out there, but I like the group we have back there, and the potential to succeed is there if we work hard, identify our roles, and find a little scoring along the way," says Keller, who is nearing 200 career victories, and will reach that figure on the boys side next fall. The MF duo of Mottonen and Rizzo, both part of the Vikings' fourth-place state team in 2011, gives the club fantastic passing, creativity, and the type of pace most will not be able to match. A demanding nonconference schedule against high-profile opponents figures to help keep Fremd ready for anyone.

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Ralph Tooren (3rd year, 5-31-0)

Last year: 0-17-0 (0-10-0)

Graduation losses: Mary Pettit (F, 2011 all-area, three-time all-MSL, playing at Wheaton College), Megan Thomas, Michelle Lyons.

Top returnees: Senior Jackie Nailor (MF); juniors Kelly Rottman (D), Natalia Pena (MF), Hannah Brostoff (MF).

New faces to watch: Sophomore Ale Alsonso (F); freshmen Michelle Montes de Oca (F), Jennie Nailor (D).

Outlook: If the Hawks can figure a way to avoid visits by the injury bug, then maybe they can climb out of the lower regions of the conference table. "It's the same old thing for us -- the girls do all the work in the off-season, and we get a positive feeling about the upcoming season, then we get hit with a bunch of injuries, and our depth and talent takes a big hit," said Hawks coach Ralph Tooren. The loss of all-everything four-year starter Mary Pettit to graduation will be tough to absorb, as the veteran would have been invaluable this spring with Tooren welcoming 10 freshmen and sophomores to his roster.

Palatine

Coach: Willie Filian (21st year, 246-143-42)

Last year: 13-9-2 (5-5-1).

Graduation losses: Katelyn Mayer (F, all-area, all-MSL, 10g, Purdue), Kaitlyn Burke (MF, Dayton), Kellie Straus (D, all-MSL, Illinois), Julie Johlie (F, Carroll College, WI), Meghan Ellis (GK, 7.0 shutouts, Harper JC), Jillian Gronwick (D, Illinois).

Top returnees: Seniors Jessica Malak (D), Jessica Bachman (D); juniors Erin Mayer (F), Morgan Radtke (D), Rachel Rhodes (GK); sophomores Michelle Raymond (MF), Kellie Reynolds (MF, F).

New faces to watch: Freshman Kiera Gavin (MF), Allison Rzepka (D).

Outlook: The playing style of the Pirates is always distinctive, wonderfully organized, defensively sound, dangerous in its set pieces -- and usually, a terrific two-way player at midfield. Things would have looked much brighter for this inexperienced club if not for the season-ending injury to its superb MF McKenzie Wiedemann, who just went through surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered during the basketball season. "McKenzie would have been our centerpiece and easily our most productive player who would run the attack, win balls in the middle and provide great service whenever called upon," said Willie Filian, the dean of all MSL soccer coaches. "Our strength will be our defense and between the sticks, but until we sort things out with all of the newcomers on the varsity roster, we're going to struggle a little bit in the early going." Filian will reshape his defensive line with the help of the talented duo of Radtke and Malak, but there are question marks in the Pirates' attack, and that's where the Filian and long-time assistant Charlie Gries will look for others to make their mark.

Schaumburg

Coach: Greg Charvat (21st year, 203-130-37)

Last year: 16-3-4 (6-2-3, regional champion, lost to St. Charles North (1-0) in sectional final.

Graduation losses: Ali Schmalz (D, two-time all-area, all-MSL, playing soccer at Texas), Kelsey Steenstrup (MF, three-time all-area, all-MSL, 35 career goals, UW-Parkside), Teagan Eberle (MF, all-area, all-MSL, 19 career assists, playing soccer at South Dakota), Becky Sneddon (MF, all-MSL, 9g), Nicole Banach, Caitlin Murphy, Brook Schocker (GK, all-MSL, 8.5 shutouts), Tessla Skrobot, Alexa Ben (all-area, all-MSL, 17 goals, club soccer).

Top returnees: Seniors Tressa Palcheck (GK), Amanda Kelly (D, all-MSL), Riley Williams (F), Jenna Eaker (F); juniors Emily Waterloo (MF), Lexi Awdziejczk (MF); sophomores Sarah Kozlowski (MF), Brittany Reinhart (MF), Kennedy Irmen (D), Jasmine Lisowski (D).

New faces to watch: Seniors Colleen Geller (D), Siobhahn Geraghty (MF), Emily Longo (D); juniors Melissa Ardagh (GK), Brooke Molitor (F); freshmen Kayla Kowal (F).

Outlook: The Saxons lost a glittering display of gifted players from a club which took eventual 3A runner-up St. Charles North to the brink in the sectionals, and after completing a memorable regular season which saw them run all over the competition with a high-powered attack and stingy defense led by all-area back-liner Schmalz, who went on to earn all Big 12 honors at Texas last fall. "We took a really big hit with graduation, losing 10 seniors, our top five scorers, three of our four starting midfielders, two starters in the back and our keeper," said Charvat, who also saw his super soph Ben elect to play club soccer. "We will try to rebuild around some solid returning players, but this team is very coachable, and that's a great start anyway you look at it." Kelly is composed, resolute and physically imposing and will anchor a new back line in front of senior GK Palcheck, who brings experience and technical skill between the sticks.

NORTHEASTERN ATHLETIC

Christian Liberty

Coach: Claire Comerouski (1st year)

Last year: Did not field a team.

New faces to watch: Junior Danielle Chaires (D); freshmen Samantha Amedin (D), Maddie Bennett (MF).

Outlook: After the program went on a one-year hiatus, the lady Chargers are back again this spring to compete in the 10-team Northeastern Athletic Conference."We are a very young team, but we have high expectations because of our strong work ethic and enthusiasm, and all we really need is to get some games in to see where we are at," said Comerouski, who coached many of her players during a three-year stint as the Chargers' junior high head coach. The club is starting with eight freshmen and four sophomores on its varsity roster, many of whom are multi-sport athletes, which the new manager feels will help her young players who lack varsity experience.

WEST SUBURBAN GOLD

Leyden

Coach: Bob Fowler (6th year, 42-46-5)

Last year: 6-13-0

Graduation losses: Avelina Batista (D), Julia Colindres (GK), Catie Donegan (D, playing at Roosevelt College Chicago).

Top returnees: Seniors Ashley Torres (F, all-sectional, all-WSC), Cynthia Salgado (MF).

New faces to watch: Sophomore Jenny Ortega (MF)

Outlook: It's never easy playing in a conference which boasts perennial powers Hinsdale Central, Lyons Township and York, among others, but the Eagles' Bob Fowler always seems to get his club to play hard despite the opposition. "We return plenty of experience from last year, many whom played a lot of minutes for us, and we feel that will go a long way toward us having a very competitive season," says Fowler, who says the Eagles' lack of players who train full-time plays a key role in the Eagles' inability to make a run at the top half of the WSC table. Four-year standout striker Torres will be one to watch, as she has led the club in scoring during her first three seasons. Another to watch is Salgado, a gritty midfielder who runs the attack with plenty of pace and energy.

CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH

Maine West

Coach: Jeff Bishop (1st year)

Last year: 13-9-3

Graduation losses: Sara Stepanovich (GK, playing at Dominican University), Annaliese Walsten (MF, 2011 all-area), Jessica Gonzalez (F), Shannon Sullivan (MF), Cara Franke (D), Rachel Laznowski (MF), Maggie McCabe (D).

Top returnees: Seniors Genesis Vargas (D), Bridget Burger (D), Alexia Prosperi (F-MF); junior Kelsey Webb (D); sophomore Joanne Stanfa (F, all-area, all-CSL, 13g, 8a).

Outlook: Despite all the changes in the program, as well as more than his share of graduation losses, new coach Jeff Bishop remains optimistic as he begins his first year in charge after coming over following five years as assistant to boys coach Vic DiPrizio at nearby Maine East. "Yes, we lost 6-7 starters and three of our captains, but we have a terrific core of experienced players back, many who were starters, so the cupboard isn't bare at all," said Bishop, who prepped at Ridgewood High School in Norridge. The Warriors will be solid defensively in front of their new GK, who is still to be decided; the senior pair of Vargas and Berger along with Webb will make things much easier for whomever takes over for the since departed three-year standout Stepanovich between the sticks. What Bishop does have, and which few others do, is a first-class finisher in the Stanfa, who burst onto the scene in grand form as a freshman last year, earning all-area honors in her rookie season while finding the back of the net on 13 occasions. "To have an attacking player like (Stanfa) is big for us, and she is obviously someone we can build around," said Bishop.

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

St. Viator

Coach: Mike Taylor (4th year, 49-27-6)

Last year: 16-9-4 6-1-2 (3rd, ESCC), regional, sectional champs, 3rd place in Class 2A state tournament.

Graduaton losses: Katelyn Hammarlund (MF, three-time all-area, all-ESCC, 52 career goals, playing at St. Louis University), Katie Gavin (MF, all-area, all-ESCC, playing at UW-Parkside), Morgan Hess (GK, 11.0 shutouts, 1.15 goals against), Erin Malone (D, all-ESCC), Molly McMahon (MF, Indiana), Katherine Petrovich (MF, all-ESCC, Notre Dame), Maggie Farwell, Lauren Falotico, Morgan Hess, Melissa Stawicki.

Top returneees: Seniors Chloe Luthringshausen (F, 9g, 5a), Erin Renee Murphy (MF), Micaela Lonigro (MF), Liz Graff (D); juniors Maria Petrillo (F), Emily Zahrebelski (D); sophomore Molly Murphy (MF, D).

New faces to watch: Senior Sam Stanley (GK); sophomores Emma Henry (D), Kayne Stanley (D), Michelle Trovato (F); freshmen Lauren Kohn (F).

Outlook: Now that standout Katelyn Hammarlund has graduated and advanced into the first-11 at St. Louis University, coach Mike Taylor is challenged with replacing the three-time all everything four-year star who was a vital piece in the Lions' run to a second top-four state finish in the last three seasons. "You're always going to miss a player like (Hammarlund) who played at such a high level, and was a leader, on and off the field, and for that matter, the same goes for (Katie) Gavin who brought so much energy and physical presence," said Taylor. "So it's up to our five returning seniors who will now have to step up and lead and teach the young ones the tradition of St. Viator soccer." A clever tactician and astute manager, Taylor will coax the best from his side, while raising the bar with each passing week, as the Lions confront a new set of challenges. A still to be decided formation will include his top player, Luthringshausen, for sure, while a rebuilt backline will be bolstered by promising rookie GK Sam Stanley. Traditionally it's been a three-horse race in the conference with St. Viator, Benet and Carmel. But last season, Nazareth took top honors, and with the ESCC player of the year Gianna Milaro back, the Lady Roadrunners might still be the team to beat.

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