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updated: 3/27/2014 4:17 PM

Girls soccer: Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Huntley goalkeeper Jessica Galason leaps to make a save during a game last season.

      Huntley goalkeeper Jessica Galason leaps to make a save during a game last season.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Steve Nichols

Bartlett HawksCoach: Ben Beary (first year)

Conference: Upstate Eight Valley

2013 record: 5-18 (1-5 UEC Valley)

Top returning athletes: Shannon Brohan (Jr., D), Josie Dombrowski (Jr., D), Mariela Alba (So., MF).

Top newcomers: Kendra Videckis (Sr., F), Melissa Gal (Jr., D), Jamie Kenna (So., D), Molly O'Malley (Fr., MF), Sarah Jurek (Fr., MF), Shaelen Kaiser (Fr., F) Carrigan Sablik (Fr., F).

Season outlook: Bartlett's squad is thin on experience with 2 seniors. But don't count out the talent that comes with the youth for the Hawks. "We're capable of hanging with any team, we've got the talent," said Beary, also the Hawks' boys soccer coach. "My goal is to make sure we're back where we need to be and I think we've got a great group of girls." Videckis returns after taking 2013 off to play club and should combine with Alba and 4 freshmen to give a potent punch up front. "They play well with the other mix of girls we have, and they work hard every day," Beary said. "We're not going to have that deep of a roster as a lot of these other teams, but we're going to get better games." Where Beary figures his team to be tough is on defense. Kenna will anchor as a center defender and Gal returns from club play to play on the outside with 3-year veteran Dombrowski.

Burlington Central RocketsCoach: Massimo Piscopo (first year)

Conference: Big Northern East

2013 record: 18-3-1 (11-1-1 BN-East)

Top returning athletes: Cali Andrew (Sr., F/MF), Ellen Jayne (Jr., F/MF).

Top newcomers: Anna McMahon (Fr., M), Abbi Ciganek (Fr., GK), Sanfranski (Fr., F), Kaylie Newquist (Fr., M).

Season outlook: Piscopo, a native of Italy who was an assistant last year, takes over a group that only lost Camile De La Cruz (Northern Iowa) to graduation. But the rookie coach values every athlete returning, which includes midfielders Andrew, Jayne and 4 new freshmen. In fact, Piscopo doesn't want the Rockets to be strong in just one area. "All the way around, all five phases of the game," he says. "We're not going to be just an attacking team, we're not going to be a defending team. We're trying to work on being an all-around team, so we're going to be good in every single phase of the game."

Cary-Grove TrojansCoach: Ray Krystal (eighth year)

Conference: Fox Valley (Valley)

2013 record: 10-6-1 (3-3)

Top returning athletes: Abby Glaysher (Sr.), Ellie Baily (Sr.), JJ Baily (Sr).

Season outlook: The defending regional champs enter with several players returning looking for larger roles while newcomers are hungry for varsity experience. C-G lost 6 players to graduation and will be looking for more cohesiveness. Glaysher and the Baily sisters will anchor the group. "The strength of this team is that every single player is driven by the desire to be a part of Cary-Grove soccer, and is willing to play as a team," said Krystal.

Crystal Lake South GatorsCoach: Jay Mueller (first year)

Conference: Fox Valley (Valley)

2013 record: 12-8-2, (3-3 FVC Valley)

Top returning athletes: Audrey Collard (Sr., D), Liz Massat (Sr., D), Bianca Miceli (Sr., F), Alex Romano (Sr., M), Alexandra Siavelis (Sr., M), Morgan Szmutko (Sr., D), Erin Woeste (Sr., M).

Top newcomers: Rebecca Mayber (Jr., D/M), Jenny Luken (So., M), Brandie Minogue (So., F), Katherine Siavelis (So., M).

Season outlook: Mueller is another new face to the area coaching ranks and he has 12 Gators returning who have unity. "We have a strong core of returning players, that's nice and going to be helpful," said Mueller, last year's freshman coach and a former varsity assistant at CL Central. "It's trying to get all these players who've come from different places, to get them together and trust me as the coach. It's going to be a learning process for everybody." Collard, an all-FVC defender, anchors a defensive group that features Massat and Szmutko. "(Collard's) as steady as she can be, she's just a leader back there," Mueller said. "She directs traffic and is very consistent in all aspects of the game. She's an important one back there." CLS graduated 2 defensemen and need a few to rise into those spots. Mayber, Hockberg, Schoenfeldt and Ross will get chances. Offensively, the trio of attacking mids in Miceli, Romano, Siavelis should help the scoring. "She's got incredible ball skills as a forward and a good shot," Mueller said of Miceli. "The young players have good speed that will open up the field for us."

Dundee-Crown ChargersCoach: Sebastian Falinski (Seventh year)

Conference: Fox Valley (Valley)

2013 record: 5-18 (1-5 FVC Valley)

Top returning athletes: Payton De Luga (Jr., D), Shannon Feld (Sr., MF), Frankie Scarpelli (Sr., F), Ashley Raby (So., F), Carson Bloch (So., D).

Top newcomers: Anahi Medina (So., GK), Sara Kuczynski (Fr., D), Paige Gieseke (Fr., D), Maggie Griffin (Fr., MF), Taylor Coffman (Fr., MF), Heily Ramirez (So., MF).

Season outlook: D-C will blend youth with 3 seniors but in return comes offensive cohesion and a notable difference in work ethic than in previous years. "They'll do whatever it takes to benefit the entire team," said Falinski. "Compared to previous teams, these guys are getting after it a little bit more in practice, these girls seem ready for that challenge. It's a positive sign." Raby, who scored 6 goals last season, will lead the attack with Scarpelli (4 goals, 6 assists) and Feld (1 goal, 3 assists) in the mix. They're joined by Ramirez, who is composed on the ball and possesses good ball skills. Griffin, a year-round club player, brings a lot of competitiveness to the midfield. The defense is getting a facelift as 2 freshmen, Gieseke and Kuczynski, will step into roles departing seniors occupied. "There's a lot of offensive returners, which is nice," said Falinski. "Defensively it's relatively a whole new group."

Elgin Academy HilltoppersCoach: Kevin Talbot (first year)

Conference: Independent School League

2013 record: 1-10-2 (0-6 ISL)

Top returning athletes: Veronica Clements (Sr., F), Lauren Farbota (Sr., F), Maggie Veltri (Jr., D), Melissa Trudung (So., F).

Top newcomers: Jenny Vernon (Fr), Rachel Dwyer (Fr).

Season outlook: Talbot, a 1997 graduate of the William Mitchell Law School and a Schaumburg alum, takes the helm. Talbot was the Harper College women's assistant for 3 years ('03-'05) and has coached the Heat United Club in Huntley the past seven. Already, he's laying down the law by moving second-team all-ISL defender Clements to forward and will use the experience up front to turn things around. "We're trying to instill a formation and a style of play that they will get by playing and practicing that style every day and formation every day," Talbot said. "That alone will help them prevent some of the goals that would have happened in the previous years and score more than zero or one goal ourselves." Seven losses were by 2 goals or less last season.

Hampshire Whip-PursCoach: Sara O'Toole (first year)

Conference: Fox Valley (Fox)

2013 record: 7-12 (3-3 FVC Fox)

Top returning athletes: Lexi Maze (Sr., MF), Claudia Lazar (Jr., MF).

Top newcomers: Nicole Raferty (So., D) Kilia Higa (Fr., M), Megan McIntyre (Fr., M).

Season outlook: Six Whip-Purs are gone to graduation and with a new coach it's a clean slate. Maze, the team's captain and MVP last season who scored 12 goals and had 13 assists, and Lazar, who scored 4 goals, return. But O'Toole, a 2008 CL Central grad and Hampshire JV coach last season, looks to incorporate some of the athletes she coached last year and the freshman, Higa. "Lexi and Kilia (are) two very skilled players, both play club," O'Toole said. "Mini-Lex we call (Kilia). They work very well together, they communicate, they have a lot of the same skills and mindset and work ethic, they're always going and always working really well together." The defense will be anchored by a few sophomores, including Raferty.

Harvest Christian LionsCoach: Jason Acres (first year)

Conference: Northeastern Athletic

2013 record: 5-7-3
Top returning athletes: Aliyah Ellis (Sr., MF), Carol Kauffman (Sr., MF), Ellie Burzlaff (So., F), Morgan Lockwood (Jr., MF), Sydney Doby (Sr., GK), Shayna Manusos (Jr., D), Rebekah Salowitz (So., D).

Top newcomers: Alexandria Rayappa (Jr., D), Chloe Corbett (Sr., MF).

Season outlook: Acres now has the keys to both soccer programs at Harvest and looks to revitalize the lower level programs through elementary school. But the focus on the varsity level is conference and taking one game at a time. "Our strength will be to play as a team -- unified, committed to one another," Acres said. "Good sportsmanship while being tough is a mark we'll shoot for as well." Limited on depth, Burzlaff returns as a first-team all-NAC player while Lockwood was second team. The 6-2 Doby showed last year she can be a dominant goalie with her length. A small bench will make it important to stay healthy.

Huntley Red RaidersCoach: Kris Grabner (11th year 159-55-11)

Conference: Fox Valley (Valley)

2013 record: 17-5-1 (5-1 FVC Valley)

Top returning athletes: Delaney Loprieno (Sr., F), Jessica Galason (Sr., GK), Abigail Nordeen (Sr., MF), Sam Morin (Sr., D), Rachel Zobott (Sr., D), Beth Parks (Sr., M), Jenna Hermansen (Sr., D), Briana Gerardi (Sr., M).

Top newcomers: Abigail Enrici (Sr., D).

Season outlook: Nine Red Raiders will play beyond Huntley High School and 17 return from a regional championship team that was without the NIU-bound Loprieno, who missed much of 2013 with a dislocated kneecap. Her presence will make a difference. "She was an all-sectional player as a sophomore and committed early," Grabner said. "To bring a goal scorer and a player with that kind of composure back into the fold is huge for us." Nordeen (Mankato State), who notched 6 goals and 4 assists, returns with Parks (Colorado State) and Gerardi up front. But the strength may be on defense. Goalkeeper and Illinois State-bound Galason, who has posted 25 career shutouts, will be formidable between the pipes again. She posted 12 shutouts last season and in front of her will be a strong defense of Morin (Illinois-Springfield), Zobott (UIC), Hermansen (Wisconsin-Whitewater) and Enrici. "You almost have to look at this class as you're not going to get it ever again," Grabner said. "To have this many girls committed, we should be able to make a pretty good run."

Jacobs Golden EaglesCoach: Stephanie Schuck (First year)

Conference: Fox Valley Valley

2013 record: 4-7-1

Top returning athletes: Talia Surges (So., MF) Amanda Pasetes (Jr., MF), Liz Foster (So., GK)

Top newcomers: Heather Hoffmann (Fr., D).

Season outlook: Playing 4 years each at Maine South and Wisconsin-Whitewater, Schuck, who is a certified personal trainer and group instructor, will whip her team into shape, so the Golden Eagles will be in good condition to say the least. "Our team is young, but eager to learn and get better," Schuck said. "I expect this year to be a quality season with lots of improvement along the way." Speed could be on display as Surges will look to use her speed and ability to read the field as one of her strengths. Pasetes will feature speed as well and Foster is a smart, fearless and agile goalkeeper, according to Schuck. Hoffmann has excellent communication and should help Jacobs win 50-50 balls.

Larkin RoyalsCoach: Ken Hall (13th year)

Conference: Upstate Eight River

2013 record: 2-17-5 (1-4-1 UEC River)

Top returning athletes: Jaci Bridgers (Sr., M), Berenice Gomez (Jr., M), Sam Moreno (So., M).

Top newcomers: Stephanie Nunez (Fr., F), Tanya Franco (Fr., D), Maria Mendoza (Fr., D).

Season outlook: Larkin goes young by starting a trio of freshmen. But there's nothing to take away from the trio returning in the midfield -- Bridgers, Moreno and Gomez -- who are the Royals' firepower. "All three bring real good leadership with them," Hall said. "The improvement level from those three from last year to this year is pretty significant, especially (Moreno). She looks like three-times the player she was last year. We're really excited about that. "But we've got (Nunez) that will probably be our leading scorer, so we're hoping for that." Seven freshmen join the squad, including the duo of Franco and Mendoza anchoring the defense. "They're stepping into some pretty important positions," Hall said of his freshmen. "You can teach soccer skills, you can teach tactics but you can't teach athleticism. We're hoping for development."

South Elgin StormCoach: Tiffany Disher (eighth year, 54-56-7)

Conference: Upstate Eight Valley

2013 record: 9-9-2 (2-4 UEC Valley)

Top returning athletes: Savanah Uveges (Sr., F), Caitlan Lange (Sr., F), Anna Tracy (Sr., D).

Season outlook: Both basketball teams won regionals this year and the girls soccer team wants to as well. Using their 2-0 loss in the regional final last year and the motivation coming from senior captain and Nebraska-bound Savanah Uveges (40 career goals), the Storm are pumped. "Everyone wants to make it to state but personally, everyone wants to win a regional," said Uveges, fully recovered now from an ACL that kept her contributions limited l; last year after she was the team's MVP in 2011 and 2012. "Last year was the first year we ever won a regional game, so regionals is the first step." Uveges, Tracy and Delaney Kelleher know about winning since they helped the Storm's basketball team win last month. The Storm also received confidence by playing teams like Metea Valley down to the wire last year. "We've been with each other through so many situations, we can trust each other, know what to expect from each other," Uveges said. "It's just great chemistry and it's good to play with that." Lange returns with a career record of 11 goals and 8 assists and will add scoring up front. Tracy (4 goals, 6 assists) anchors the backfield that only allowed 30 goals last year as keepers Jourdan Vaulkner and Jackie DeLaMora set a school record, along with recording 6 shutouts. "They know they can win, which is different," Disher said. "I believe that they can. They believe that they can. Just getting together and making sure we make it through the season working well as a team, hopefully we'll be able to get there."

St. Edward Green WaveCoach: Tim Brieger (19th year)

Conference: Suburban Christian

2013 record: 16-7-2

Top returning athletes: Corey Lepoudre (Sr., MF), Allison Kruk (Sr., F), Monica Ramirez (Sr., MF), Emily Witt (Sr., D), Chelsea Gnan (Jr., D), Kathleen Duffy (Jr. D), Paige Dykstra (Jr., GK), Casey Gredzieleski (Jr., D), Olivia Kochanek (Jr., M), Ashley Lopez (So., M).

Top newcomers: Alex Zeller (Sr., F), Madelyn Spagnola (Fr., F), Cecilia Kochanek (Fr., M).

Season outlook: Will the fourth time be the lucky charm? The past 3 seasons have commenced in the Elite Eight or the Class 1A Final Four, with the Green Wave tied or leading in two of those games. Francis Parker came from a 1-0 deficit last May with 3 goals in the final 13 minutes to advance to state. "I think we know we came up short, and when this (senior) class came in as freshmen, there were some high expectations," said Brieger, whose team has won 49 games since 2011. "Not that we didn't meet them, I'll take an Elite Eight year in and year out but I think it's going to be fun. We're ready to go." Nine of 11 are returning starters, and Lepoudre (10 goals and 11 assists last season and will play at Augustana), the 2013 Daily Herald Fox Valley all-area captain, comes in healthy as opposed to last year. So too do Ramirez and Kruk, scorers who both battled injuries last season. Kruk comes in 5 goals short of the girls' record in goals scored (47) and 17 away from Chris Holze's boys record of 63 set in 1993. The Wave's back line is in tact with Witt, Gnan, Duffy and Gredzieleski back. "It's not like a panic mode, but I keep stressing the number 16," Brieger said. "Against Lisle, they scored with 16 minutes left in the game two years ago and knocked us out. We were beating Parker with 16 minutes left, they got the 1 and the 2. They're not looking ahead but we've got something special here and it's a once in a lifetime achievement."

Streamwood SabresCoach: Matt Polovin (13th year)

Conference: Upstate Eight River

2013 record: 11-9-3 (2-4 UEC River)

Top returning athletes: Erika Delgado (Sr., MF), Hannah McGlone (Sr., D), Nathalie Guindon (Jr., GK), Rosa Miranda (Jr., D), Ilma Skrgic (Jr., M) Tawny Carroll (Jr., F), Cristina Corona (So., D), Stephanie Corona (So., D).

Top newcomers: Cassandra Adan (Fr., M), Alondra Blanco (Fr., F), Sarahi Lopez (Fr., D), Paulina Chrapczynski (Fr., F),

Season outlook: Carroll headlines a group where 5 freshmen must get used to the speed and physical play at the varsity level, as well as the speed of the Millennium Field turf. But all look up to Carroll, the forward who has scored 16 goals (11 assists) and who is gaining interest from the University of Illinois. "For the last four years I had the best boys player in Nestor Ascencio," Polovin said. "Now with Tawny, she's slowly becoming that type of player, too. The girls on the other teams respect her. " Carroll uses her confidence around the goal and her speed to her advantage and will get a boost from Blanco. "If there's a Batman and Robin, she'd be Tawny's sidekick," Polovin said. "Everything we do, I try to have those two together. With those two together, we can score a lot of goals." Blanco is "technically gifted as a freshman," Polovin said. "What she can do with the ball, with her feet, she's got good speed, uses her body very well to protect the ball." Delgado, who scored 3 goals and 3 assists as a midfielder last season will contribute and it also helps to have one of the best athletes in the area in McGlone anchoring the defense that will feature Miranda and the Corona sisters.

Westminster Christian WarriorsCoach: Erik Schwartz (fourth year)

Conference: Northeastern Athletic

2013 record: 7-9-1

Top returning athletes: Liz Meschewski (Sr., M/F), Emily Beachler (Sr.), Whitney Woodhouse (Sr, M), Lindsey Vanden Bos (Jr., F), Savannah Dutcher (Jr., GK), Aleska Pederson (So., F).

Top newcomers: Taylor Battle (Sr., D/M), Allie Tanzillo (Fr., D), Emily Lamb (Fr., D/M).

Season outlook: Westminster hopes to be flip side of a regional title loss from last year. "We won a regional game which we haven't been able to do the previous three years," Schwartz said. "We'll try to win this conference we're in, that would be the first time girls soccer wins a conference." Leading scorer Meschewski will be a force again in the midfield and Woodhouse, Vanden Bos and Pederson will look to score as well. Two freshmen add to the defense. But as Meschewski goes, so too will the Warriors. "She's a really big impact on the field," said Schwartz, who alluded to her quickness. "And that's just something you can't coach. She's always going to make an impact on the game because she just stretches the field." The 6-foot-1 Dutcher in net will guard the cage again, and the junior has something to build on after 21 saves in regionals.

Elgin High School did not provide information for this preview.

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