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Article updated: 11/27/2013 11:49 PM

Giving thanks for college achievers

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Let's give thanks this week to a bunch of area graduates doing well in college ...

Loras College men's soccer team heads to the Division III Final Four for a second straight year on Friday in San Antonio against Rutgers-Camden. The Duhawks (19-1-3) advanced with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Trinity on a header by Mike Pizzello (Timothy Christian), as keeper Dylan Milkent (Glenbard South) earned his 16th win. Loras also has keeper Sean Elvert (Waubonsie Valley), midfielder JoJo Schmidt (Metea Valley) and midfielder Pat Langan (Wheaton North) on the roster. Pizzello, a junior, scored the game-tying goal in Timothy Christian's 2009 Class 1A championship victory, won in four overtimes.

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Monmouth junior defensive end Jack Porter (St. Francis) earned Midwest Conference first-team nods. A first-time selection, Porter made 62 tackles with a team-high 12 for loss. He also scored his first college touchdown on a fumble return, one of his 3 fumble recoveries in a 49-21 win over Ripon.

The College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin announced its all-conference football teams. Included on first-team offense was Wheaton College offensive lineman Nolan Randall (Naperville North). On defense were North Central defensive backs Shane Dierking (Wheaton Warrenville South) and Connor Douglas (Glenbard South), Wheaton linebacker Adam Dansdill (WW South), North Central's Nick Slezak (Glenbard South) and Illinois Wesleyan defensive lineman John Worley (York). Dierking, a three-time all-CCIW pick, was named defensive player of the year, entering the Cardinals' second-round playoff game with 51 tackles and 7 interceptions, 4 breakups and 11 passes defended. With 1 more interception he'll have the program record of 16.

Millikin volleyball setter Emily Mihalkanin (Hinsdale South) was named the CCIW's freshman of the year and was a second-team all-CCIW pick. She led league setters with 1,357 overall assists and 309 in CCIW play. Mihalkanin's total ranks third in Millikin season history, the most since the late 1990s.

The setter Mihalkanin succeeded at Millikin is graduated but not forgotten. Three-time CCIW first-teamer Brittany Cardott (Glenbard East), third in all-time assists and sixth in digs at Millikin, was awarded the university's Lindsey Medallion for outstanding performance on Nov. 9. This fall Cardott returned to Glenbard East as an assistant girls coach.

At the end of the last academic year, the Yale men's tennis team elected their captain for 2013-14. The choice was Kyle Dawson (St. Francis). Now a senior, Kyle became the third brother voted as the Elis' team captain, following older brothers and St. Francis graduates Jeff and Connor. Kyle's credentials included winning the program's Ludlum Memorial Award for spirit and leadership.

North Central senior Katie McNeela (Lake Park) ended a 17-year soccer career second on the Cardinals with 2 goals and third in scoring from the central defender position. More importantly, a member of four honor societies, McNeela is a three-time CCIW All-Academic selection who is bound for a fourth such honor. She entered the season with a 3.86 (out of 4.00) grade-point average in her double majors of marketing and organizational communications, and a 3.71 overall GPA. A dean's list member each trimester of her collegiate career, as a junior McNeela helped North Central reach the Divison III playoffs for the first time.

Portland senior goalkeeper Erin Dees (Downers Grove North) was a first-team pick in the West Coast Conference. Though the Pilots were eliminated by Illinois in the second round of the Division I playoffs, Dees finished with 9 shutouts and a goals-against average of .86.

In the Portland-Illinois, game, Illini senior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo (Waubonsie Valley) countered a 2-0 deficit with 2 goals, including one to send the game into overtime. DiBernardo took 4 shots in Illinois' Sweet Sixteen loss to Boston College, finishing her senior season with 21 points in 15 games this fall. She earned first-team selection to the Capital One Academic All-District team for District 5 with a 3.70 GPA in her major of recreation, sport and tourism.

Naperville North graduate Kimber Meyer, a freshman at Macalester, finished 22nd for an All-America position at the Division III cross country championship in Hanover, Ind. Meyer placed fifth at the Central Region race and ran fourth at the Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference championship, pacing Macalester's fourth-place finish, its best since 1999.

On Oct. 5 North Park University's football team broke an 89-game losing streak in the CCIW, beating Carthage 22-20 for the Vikings' first conference win in 13 years. Helping the cause was freshman receiver Alan Geneva (Fenton), who caught 3 passes for 64 yards and returned kickoffs for 75 yards.

Helping Wheaton College finish one game shy of the Division III semifinals on women's soccer, the Sharkey sisters -- junior defender Alexa (Wheaton Academy) and sophomore defender Sydney (Wheaton North) -- each were first-team all-CCIW selections. Alexa Sharkey also made three appearances in goal as what Wheaton College termed a "sweeper keeper."

Muriel Battaglia (Hinsdale Central), a junior midfielder for Yale, earned Division I Academic All-District honors. She started 15 of the Bulldogs' 16 games, has a 3.92 GPA in biology and also volunteered with the Soccer Ability League, which helps children with physical and mental challenges play the sport.

Paired with her 3.33 GPA in elementary education, Illinois State sophomore Kelly McShea's (St. Francis) 18th-place finish at the Missouri Valley Conference Cross Country Championships earned her a slot on the MVC scholar-athlete team. She was on the U.S. Track and Field & Cross Country Coaches All-Academic team last spring.

Freshman Tanner Obal (York) finished the fall golf season as Augustana's leading score. Obal averaged 77.1 in 14 rounds with a low score of 73 at the Scot/Vike Invitational at Monmouth on Sept. 19.

Another Yorkie, North Central College senior Mary Kate Rohn, won the women's CCIW golf tournament. She shot a 2-round total of 151 to tie Carthage's Kayla Meyer, then was declared the winner on a score card playoff. Rohn became the Cardinals' second female CCIW golf titlist in history and shot her top two rounds of the season when it counted.

Michael Pyle (Glenbard South), a junior defender on Lewis University's men's soccer team, is a first-team member of the Daktronics Division II All-Midwest Team. Pyle scored 3 goals on 11 shots but more importantly was part of a back line that allowed 11 goals in 21 games, with 13 shutouts. Fellow Flyers defender Kyle Collins (Lisle), a freshman, earned second-team Daktronics All-Midwest.

Illinois State defender Sara Stankoskey (Glenbard North), who played all 22 games in helping the Redbirds tie their wins record with 14 and advance to the final round of 32 in Division I, was named to the Missouri Valley Conference all-freshman team.

To be continued ...

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman@dailyherald.com

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