Head coach: Chris Crawford (6th season)
Last season: 19-9
Returning players: Mack Ryan (senior 2M defender), Sarah Durning (junior 2M forward), Devika Joshi (senior driver)
Newcomers: Lily Marcus (freshman driver), Meredith Robbins (freshman driver), Harriet Davies (sophomore utility), Maddie Bollinger (sophomore goalie)
Outlook: It might not happen this season, but the goal remains the same for Wildcats. "Like every season, our hopes are very high," coach Chris Crawford said. "When I took over the program, I made it clear to the players and parents that our goal here is to win the state title eventually. So every year we take as a steppingstone or building block toward that ultimate goal." The Wildcats boast a returning group that includes senior captain Mack Ryan, junior Sarah Durning and senior Devika Joshi, who led the Wildcats in goals, assists and steals last season. Joshi, a four-year varsity player who's a top student, as well, is receiving Division-I interest. "She's just a very well-rounded player," Crawford said. "I think her biggest strength is her intelligence and game awareness. She can anticipate what her opponents are going to do sometimes before they even know what they're going to do. She's notorious for being sneaky in games. She also brings a level of confidence to her teammates. She's a person who raises her teammates' games a little bit." A pair of freshmen to watch are Lily Marcus and Meredith Robbins. Crawford has high hopes for both.
Head coach: Drew Schneider (17th season)
Last season: 27-8
Returning players: Karrie Kozokar (senior driver), Allie Boothe (senior utility), Anna Ward (senior goalie), Lauren Blake (junior driver), Ellie Wingender (junior defender)
Newcomers: Emily Garcia (junior utility), Emily Dodd (junior utility/goalie), Denise Casili (junior utility)
Outlook: The Mustangs finished fourth in the state last year and return one of the state's best players in senior Karrie Kozokar, who pumped in 121 goals last season and is signed with Indiana University. The 6-foot-plus Kozokar, who just finished up her club swim season, did not play in the Mustangs' season-opening, 13-11, double-overtime win over Palatine on Tuesday. "She's got size, strength and speed, and she knows how to use it," coach Drew Schneider said. "In water polo, which is a physical and aggressive sport, that can go a long way. One of the other advantages that comes into play is, she grew up playing softball. So when you add a softball arm to a kid of that size and has one of the top swims times in the state (50- and 100-yard freestyle state qualifier), it's a pretty unique athlete in the water-polo sport." Junior Emily Garcia, who played JV last spring, led the way for the Mustangs against Palatine with 8 goals. "That was a huge lift," Schneider said. Allie Boothe, who scored 58 goals (second on the team) last season, also scored in the season opener, despite just recovering from illness. She had not even practiced with the team. Anna Ward is considered one of the top goalies in the state. She, Kozokar and Boothe all have been starting since their sophomore year. The Mustangs have been a perennial top-10 team in the state under Schneider, and expectations are strong again this season. "We're looking to build off last year's fourth-place finish," Schneider said. "Obviously we have a core of high-quality athletes intact, and we're looking to develop those girls coming up from junior varsity and the brand-new girls who are learning their roles."
Head coach: Jeff Wimer (21st season)
Last season: 25-8
Returning players: Becky Callen (senior goalie), Ashley Oliver (senior driver), Alexa Kotlyar (senior driver), Mellissa Gartenberg (junior driver), Allison Travetto (sophomore driver)
Newcomers: Sara Ploch (senior driver), Bridget Wynne (senior driver), Alex Adams (junior driver), Autumn Hoang (junior driver), Annika Hotchkiss (junior driver), Erin Kempers (junior driver), Jordyn Landau (junior driver), Joanie Newland (junior driver), Delaney Weiland (junior driver), Lauren Burns (sophomore goalie)
Outlook: Veteran coach Jeff Wimer says it should be a very interesting season for his Patriots, who are coming a 25-win campaign last spring. They opened their season Wednesday night with a 21-1 rout of Maine South, as sophomore driver Allison Travetto scored 10 goals, while junior driver Melissa Gartenberg added 5. Returning goalie Becky Callen had 14 saves. "We have a lot more depth this year with another year of experience behind them," Wimer said. "We had some big losses from last year's graduating class (Brittany Gartenberg, Alex Kaneris, Laura Larsen and Jenna Oliver). Time will tell as to which girls step up to fill the losses. I expect to be competing with Mundelein and Libertyville for the top spot in the NSC. As always, our sites will be for a big finish in the end. It will be another exciting and fun season."
Head coach: Shona Moeller (7th season)
Last season: 4-20
Returning players: Lauren Wood (2 meter), Priscilla Yim (driver/flat), Morgan Levy (point/hole defender), Elena Ochoa (driver), Katy Udesky (goalie)
Newcomers: Pan Lin (sophomore), Emilia Pranica (freshman), Isabella Mione (freshman), Isabelle Kling (freshman)
Outlook: Coach Shona Moeller is looking forward to this season because her team has so many "newbies," as she likes to call them. "We have two-plus new players for every returning member, and so far the returning members are loving the leadership roles they get to play in and out of the water," Moeller said. "I think one of my favorite things about being a coach is seeing the growth in the players throughout their time in the program. They come in not knowing a single thing about polo and leave knowing the sport inside and out, all the while growing as people, not just players." The returning Cougars include Lauren Wood (team MVP last season), Priscilla Yim (team defensive player of the year as a freshman), Morgan Levy (offensive player of the year), Elena Ochoa (most improved) and Katy Udesky (co-goalie of the year). The Cougars opened the season Tuesday with a 13-6 win over Elk Grove, as Wood scored 9 goals. Ochoa added a pair, while Udesky blocked 14 shots. Levy and Yim also scored. "This year is incredibly unique due to the sheer number of new players we have coming out for the season (7 returners and 17 new players)," Moeller said. "I am looking forward to having fun with the girls and watching them expand their knowledge and ability of water polo. I am also looking forward to watching the veteran players thrive in their leadership roles as they teach the newbies the ropes. This is a tough sport, but the girls always seem to smile through the tough practices and games."