Class 3A Rolling Meadows regionalPairings: Game 2) No. 2 Conant vs. No. 15 Rolling Meadows Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) No. 7 Bartlett vs. No. 10 Wheaton North, Tuesday 7 p.m.; Game 4) Winner of Game 2 vs. winner of Game 3 Friday, May 23.
Outlook: While Conant lurks in the distance as the team to beat, Bartlett, which increased its win total by 6 in 2014, can go into the postseason relieved that it has avoided the South Elgin regional and can feel right at home with Meadows' turf field.
"We're happy with our draw," Hawks' coach Ben Beary said. "One of the good things about the playoffs is that you're playing teams you really haven't seen very often and you've got a little element of surprise against them. Once you've played teams a second and third time, everyone's seen your tricks."
One of those teams who hasn't is Wheaton North, but Beary has seen the Falcons a few times. He just has to worry about his own team's mental and tactical awareness. The size and speed at times this season was a bit much but as the season's progressed the Hawks have gotten stronger mentally and a bit more physical.
Forward Kendra Videckis, a top 10 area leader in scoring, has been a vital catalyst and a primary factor for that. At 17 goals, 3 assists, she's done so nicked up, but she's provided good leadership and battled through much adversity.
"She's the kind of girl that works through injuries and plays through minor soreness and a little bit of pain," Beary said. "(She's) one of the top strikers in the sectional when she's healthy and clicking on all cylinders. Been a huge help this season turning this program around from a 5-win program to an 11- win program."
Shannon Brohan has been a key on defense and has shifted around to numerous positions this season to help out other injured Hawks, including Jamie Kenna, a center defender who missed two weeks of the season with a knee injury but is back to good health. Both should help bolster a defense and goalkeeper Amanda Lozada's been known to have some dominant performances.
"We have to bring it not just physically but mentally, and we've got to be clicking on all cylinders for the entire stretch," Beary said. "It's been a fun season, regardless of what happens, we've really loved this group. And I hope we get to keep playing because they deserve it."
Advancement: Winner of the Rolling Meadows regional plays the winner of the Geneva regional in the Conant sectional May 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Class 3A South Elgin regionalPairings: Game 1) No. 1 South Elgin vs. No. 4 Larkin Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.; Game 2) No. 2 Elgin vs. No. 3 Streamwood Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.; Game 3) winner of Game 1 vs. winner of Game 2 Friday, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: South Elgin's main concern this season was to win a regional championship. Now, on their home field, the Storm are in position to do so and will just have to keep their focus in tact, first against a Larkin team they have not seen all season.
"That's what we keep saying," South Elgin coach Tiffany Disher said. "Just to keep sure that the focus is there and it's there throughout the entire game."
The Storm has had moments where their lack of focus has affected outcomes. But Disher hopes a high level of intensity and senior leadership will step up. Anna Tracy (6 goals, 6 assists) and Caitlin Lange (8 goals, 4 assists) will be two of the seniors in place to do so in an offensive role. The Storm will hope for more solid defense from Maddie Musnicki, and Corinne Hildebrandt and Weronika Noyszewski will need to make plays while anchoring the defense according to Disher, for the team to win its first regional title.
"We've never won a regional championship," Disher said. "We're hoping this is the first one we bring back to South Elgin."
On the other side, Elgin garnered a No. 2 seed to maybe a little surprise, but that's the way the Maroons like it. And they also like playing a little defense, which has caught some teams off guard as well. Led by sophomore Laine Kaehler and freshman Hannah Erickson, the Maroons have been able to get into opponent's heads, which has led to a solid counterattack. Jenny Lopez (4 goals) and Nancy Garcia lead the charge up front and it only helps they've defeated Streamwood 3-1 earlier this season going into the rematch.
"I know the girls have a motivation because they've beaten them once this season," Maroons coach Alicia Knoll said. "They're coming with an energy to try and beat them for a second time."
The playing surface at South Elgin also plays into Elgin's hands. Two of the 4 teams in this regional are relegated to turf. But the natural grass will be an added advantage, so too will be the fact that the Maroons have also beaten Larkin 1-0 this season and have not seen South Elgin, which in a way can be good.
"It's one of our best draws we've had," Knoll said. "That's all we pretty much practice on and play on, we've only had 2 games that have had turf."
Matt Polovin's Streamwood team will seek revenge on the Maroons. The Sabres have had a gigantic season from Tawny Carroll with 28 goals and 17 assists. She sat out the second half of the loss to Elgin.
"We'll be ready for them," said Polovin. "(We) just need to see us go 110 percent for 80 minutes. Put a lot of pressure on them and force them into a lot of mistakes and capitalize on their mistakes." Polovin says his defenders need to step up and play side to side, not straight up in the flat and to create chances.
"We've got to work hard all the way from our goalie to our forwards," Polovin said. "If we can do that I definitely think we can beat Elgin and maybe we'll give South Elgin even a better game then."
Streamwood has lost 3 times to South Elgin by a score of 15-0 but beat Larkin twice this season.
Advancement: Winner of the South Elgin regional moves on to the Rockford Auburn sectional to play the winner of the Rockford Guilford regional Tuesday, May 27 at 6 p.m.
Class 3A Huntley regionalPairings: Game 1) No. 1 Huntley vs. No. 4 Jacobs Tuesday, 5 p.m.; Game 2) No. 2 Crystal Lake South vs. No. 3 Dundee-Crown Tuesday, 7 p.m.; Game 3) Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 Saturday May 24, 5 p.m.
Outlook: The host Red Raiders didn't come out with a Fox Valley Conference title but they can avenge losses to Crystal Lake South, St. Charles North and Harlem with a deep postseason run.
But Huntley will have to get past Jacobs, which the Red Raiders beat Thursday by a 7-0 score. If they do so again and seedings hold, Huntley will get its rematch with the Gators for the regional title.
"They're a really strong defensive team, it's really interesting they gave up 6 to (Prairie Ridge)," Huntley coach Kris Grabner said of CLS, which hadn't give up a conference goal all season until losing to PR last week. "They like to counterattack fast and that's something we'll definitely have to be prepared for."
But despite giving up just 9 goals and goalkeeper Jessica Galason posting 13 shutouts in Huntley's 13 wins, the lack of scoring has been a hard puzzle to solve.
"The biggest thing for us is that we have to start scoring goals. We're getting plenty of possession but we're just not sharp in the final third," Grabner said. "We're not going to keep shutting people out and we have to win a game when giving up a goal."
One of the bright spots on offense has been sophomore Taryn Jakubowski, who has scored 38 goals on 11 assists despite being switched all over the field.
"The plan was to have her at offensive center mid," said Grabner, who has Jakubowski at forward now. "We had to tell her at forward to be selfish at times, take people on and create opportunities. She's stepped up and done that and scored some huge goals for us."
But Grabner says others have to step up. The Raiders received a lift from Abigail Nordeen's game-winner in a 1-0 win over McHenry and along with midfielder Katie Constantino, the 4 sophomores must rise to the occasion.
"If our four sophomores step up in the playoffs, we're going to fare very very well," Grabner said of Jakubowski, Alyssa Kaufman, Alexandra Sunter and Autumn Maraviglia. "To me, that's a huge key right now. Those four girls can play."
Jacobs wasn't able to snag a win against the Red Raiders in the loss on Thursday but it will get a rematch Tuesday and the Golden Eagles are looking to use the loss for motivation in round two.
"I'm hoping it helps us motivation-wise, win or lose," Jacobs coach Stephanie Schuck said. "We get a second chance either way and let us prove we're the better team, even if you get two wins or lose the first game and win the second game."
The Golden Eagles have made strides this season despite a 3-15 record. Not only has the communication improved, but they've gotten contributions from Kyra Blankenship (3 goals), Talia Surges (1 goal, 5 assists), Amanda Pasetes and Rachel Romano (3 goals).
(They've) definitely put themselves apart based on their stats and their ability to distribute the ball," Schuck said of Surges and Blankenship. "For us, it's playing smart. You really have to outsmart the other team, especially when you have those individual all-stars."
On the other side of the bracket, Crystal Lake South's loss to Prairie Ridge gave the Gators at least a cut of the FVC Valley title, but besides giving up 6 goals in its conference finale, for the most part the Gators stymied every conference opponent, including Huntley, with a stout defense. They also defeated Dundee-Crown, their semifinal opponent, 4-0 earlier this season and keeper Jaclyn Przyblyski has 9 shutouts. Offensively, Kimmy Sulikowski (8-4-20) and Brandie Minogue (6-3-15) have carried the offense.
Dundee-Crown hasn't had the success it may have wanted, but the Chargers do battle to the end. It showed in their 1-0 win over Jacobs to finish the regular season last week. "I'm really proud of my girls for constantly working to improve and never giving up on the season," D-C coach Sebastian Falinski said after the win. "Hopefully this win gives us the confidence that we need moving into our regional match against a very good Crystal Lake South team."
Advancement: Winner of the Huntley regional moves on to the Rockford Auburn sectional to play the winner of the Cary-Grove regional Wednesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.
Class 3A Cary-Grove regionalPairings: Game 1) No. 1 McHenry vs. No. 4 Round Lake Tuesday, 5 p.m.; Game 2) No. 2 Cary-Grove vs. No. 3 Grant Tuesday, 7 p.m.; Game 3) Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 2 Friday, 6 p.m.
Outlook: A young Cary-Grove squad hosts is hoping for a regional championship on its home field. But McHenry might have a final say about that. They Warriors defeated the Trojans in McHenry 2-0 on April 22 in conference play. C-G finished the season in the middle of the pack but did knock off Huntley, Jacobs and Dundee-Crown in the midst of a three-game winning streak after dropping its opening 3 games in the FVC.
Advancement: Winner of the Cary-Grove regional moves on to the Rockford Auburn sectional to play the winner of the Huntley regional Wednesday, May 28 at 6 p.m.
Class 2A Burlington Central regionalPairings: Game 1) No. 1 DeKalb vs. No. 4 Hampshire Wednesday, 5 p.m.; Game 2) No. 2 Sycamore vs. No. 3 Burlington Central Wednesday, 7 p.m.; Game 3) Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2 Friday, 6 p.m.
Outlook: Here's a chance for redemption for Burlington Central. Last year the Rockets were bounced by Sycamore in the regional final and they'll have a chance to give the Spartans an early exit this time. Maybe a 3-2 win over Sycamore this season over at the Freeport tournament is an omen for the Rockets, who went 10-7-2 and 7-2-1 in the Big Northern East.
Although Hampshire's regular season was for naught, that part of the schedule is behind them. The Whip-Purs played in DeKalb's tournament but did not see the Barbs. Add the fact their matchup with Burlington Central was canceled last week and the Whips come into the Central regional unfamiliar with any of the teams but coach Sara O'Toole has a lot of confidence in her team.
"I have faith in these girls, they've worked hard this season," O'Toole said. "It's been a great group of girls, and if they focus a little bit more, they tend to lose it once we're down, if we just come out strong, we have a better chance. We can't let up some lazy goals we've had this season."
Departing senior midfielder Lexie Maze (UW-Whitewater) has 9 goals and 6 assists this season to lead the Whips.
"She's done a lot for this team," O'Toole said. "She's a great talent that we have. I'm sad to see she'll be leaving us this season."
Advancement: Winner of the Burlington Central regional moves on to the Hampshire sectional and plays the winner of the Rosary regional Tuesday, May 27 at 7 p.m.