Girls soccer: Scouting Northwest

MSL EASTBuffalo Grove Coach: Pat Dudle (9th year, 107-66-17).

Last year: 14-6-3 (7-3-0), regional champions.

Graduation losses: Jessica Kovach (MF, three-time all-area, four-time all-MSL, 25 career assists, playing soccer at Washington University), Sara O'Connor (F, all-area, all-state, all-MSL, 26 goals last season, playing soccer at UIC), Sara Busse (MF-F, all-area, all-MSL, 29 career goals, Iowa), Maria Hamilton (D, all-area, all-MSL, playing at Wisconsin-Whitewater), Jessica Ahumada (D), Sara Cain (North Park).

Top returning players: Seniors Cassie Berman (GK), Dani Bleichman (D), Kaylee Gerhardt (MF), Sabrina Guercio (D); juniors Danielle Allaire (D), Gina Bolis (D), Brittany Lee (D), Courtney Lee (MF), Georgette Topalis (MF); sophomores Alyssa Floro (MF), Erin Klecynski (F), Kara Tyner (F).

New faces: Senior Danielle Hausfeld (D); sophomore Martina Macaggi (MF); freshmen Aaliyah Rocha (MF), Christina Ruterschmidt (D).

Outlook: The trio of Jessica Kovach, Sara Busse and Sara O'Connor are off to college, leaving behind a highly entertaining and sensational four-year run for the Bison during which several program records (and many victories) were added. While coach Pat Dudle will find it nearly impossible to replace them, he also finds a nice group back this spring. "We do have a nice core of players back, but we need some of them to shift from being supportive players to goal-scorers and leaders," Dudle said. "There's a lot of good character kids on this roster who are coachable and enjoyable to be around, so if a few of them step up, we can contend in for a division title." Dudle says it will scoring by committee to compensate for the 26 goals O'Connor bagged last year, with the quartet of Bleichman, Topalis, Courtney Lee and Floro set to have most of the touches in the middle while providing the creative energy in the attack of the Bison.

Elk GroveCoach: Dan Klaus (15th year, 124-143-17).

Last year: 3-12-1 (2-8-1).

Graduation losses: Abby Smola, Alexis Olague.

Top returning players: Seniors Cassie Slattery (MF), Liz McDaniel (MF); sophomore Zoe Bloomquist (MF).

Outlook: It's been lean times for the Grens since Katie Naughton graduated four years ago to become an all-everything back-line star at Notre Dame, first-round pick of the Chicago Red Stars and recent call-up to the National Team by coach Janet Rayfield. With each season since, head coach Dan Klaus has seen his club become younger and younger, and with that, in a soccer conference filled with high-profile opponents, victories have been harder to come by. However, the youthful roster of 2015 gained valuable experience, and the majority are back this spring with hopes of bigger and better things. "We have eight sophomores who played the full year with the varsity, five solid freshmen who I believe can develop into quality players, all with a terrific attitude and plenty of effort in the early going that says we could compete at a higher level this season," says Klaus. The return of his top player Cassie Slattery back to midfield after spending last season between the sticks will invigorate the Grens' attack.

HerseyCoach: Darren Llewellyn (3rd year, 31-12-4).

Last year: 15-6-3, (9-0-2), lost to Barrington (1-0) in MSL Soccer Cup, regional champions.

Graduation losses: Kayla Knauss (D, all-state, all-area, three-time all-MSL, Missouri), Anne Korff (D, two-time all-area, all-MSL, Iowa), Sara Magnuson (D-MF, all-area, two-time all-MSL, playing tennis at Wheaton College), Jessica Schmidt (F), Emma Slosar (MF), Abby Wendell (MF, all-MSL).

Top returning players: Seniors Claire Neimczyk (D), Susan Lindstrom (D); juniors Claire Callahan (F), Grace Kozurek (F), Erin Smetana (D-MF).

Outlook: The tradition of Hersey soccer, beginning with Brad Abel and now with coach Darren Llewellyn, has been defending. The Huskies have always been a stingy bunch along the back, making it near impossible to initiated much quality in the final third, frustrating even the best of their league opponents. Proof of that excellence are the 25 shutouts goalkeepers Kayla Knauss, Anne Korff and Sara Magnuson had a hand in during the regular season in the MSL over the past three seasons. Those three are all gone, along with Claire Gritt (10 shutouts), Kelly Weyhrich and Gina Miklasz, basketball standouts who did not return this spring. That makes the challenge to win the East for a third consecutive time a much bigger one for Llewellyn and his staff. "We've gone from potential powerhouse to, 'Let's see what we can build after graduation losses and five others (including four starters) not out with us this season.' I guess we'll need to get ourselves organized and find our personality, then we'll see what we have after that," says Llewellyn, who will have the duo of Grace Kozurek and Claire Callahan up top after each turned in impressive seasons last year during their first full varsity year.

ProspectCoach: Tom Froats (14th year, 141-108-33).

Last year: 6-14-1 (2-9-1).

Graduation losses: Maggie Sullivan (Michigan State), Izzy Fast (Harper), Sammy Minasian (Tampa), Jenny Leet (Lewis University), Lauren Rendino (Marquette), Marika Maggos (Illinois), Jenna Leane (Illinois), Natalie Tuczak (Illinois).

Top returning players: Seniors Andi Marfilius (F), Kathryn Szukalla (MF), Michelle Haaning (D), Taylor Sliwa (F); juniors Aly Kobler (F, 8g), Amy Novak (D), Grace Johannesen (D), Grace Taldone (D); sophomore Natalie Marfilius (D).

New faces: Senior Mehgan Rickett (GK); junior Madden McDonnell GK), Kendra Gancarz (MF), Grace Bauer (MF), Caroline Hajek D); sophomores Shawna Stokes (F), Faith Fitzsimmons (MF); freshmen Tina Suto, Marissa Valentini, Ella Marzolf, Ashley Welk.

Outlook: The reasons for the Knights' fall into the bottom half of the MSL table last season was easily detected by taking a glance at the goals for and against (11 and 25) in leage play. Prospect was shut out seven times en route to a 2-9-0 conference record. "It's no excuse, but we were so young and inexperience last year, and we faced such a grueling early schedule from which we never recovered from," said coach Tom Froats. "We're still young, but more seasoned and hardened from the valuable lessons we learned a year ago, and we feel that will pay dividends for us this time around." The return to good health of Andi Marfilius is key after an injury in late April ended her season. The senior, along with the Knights leading scorer Aly Kobler, will give the club quality up top, while Froats now has a much deeper and experienced roster which will allow more versatility and the ability to play with much more energy on both sides of the ball for 80 minutes.

Rolling MeadowsCoach: Mike Drenth (5th year, 25-45-7).

Last year: 5-11-2 (3-7-1).

Graduation losses: Jamie Berry (D, all-MSL), Nora Rasche.

Top returning players: Juniors Kat Perille (MF), Clare Preissing (D), Madeline Rebsamen (MF), Kelsey Nallon (GK), Meghan Kelly (MF-D), Kyra Spiwak (MF), Hannah Ungurean (D); sophomores Natalie Anderson (F), Melissa Spiwak (F).

New faces: Sophomore Sarah Sheridan (MF).

Outlook: The Mustangs may have been the youngest side in the MSL last season with eight freshmen and another half-dozen sophomores on the varsity roster. "Despite not having any seniors, everyone is back to give us plenty of experience around here as a good deal of the juniors have been with me for awhile - to go along with some great team chemistry, which we hope will help make us a tougher, and more competitive bunch this year," says coach Mike Drenth. The Mustangs have a young, attacking club led by leading goal-scorer (Kat Perille), who will be paired with newcomer Sarah Sheridan. Three-year veteran Clare Preissing will take over as the central defender for the departed Jamie Berry after a prominent midfield role during her first two years with the team. Plenty of lineup options and some much-needed depth may finally allow the Mustangs to join the battle for a divisional title.

WheelingCoach: Dwayne Cruz (3rd year, 4-13-1)

Last year: 3-13--0 (0-11-0).

Graduation losses: Emily Peterson (MF, all-MSL), Yessenia Acosta (DMF, playing at Harper), Sonia Valencia (GK, all-MSL, playing at Harper).

Top returning players: Seniors Daisy Guerrero (D), Nancy Diaz (MF), Alyssa Peterson (D); junior Emma Fister (F).

New faces: Guadalupe Bucio (MF), Yadira Escobedo (MF), Carolyn Webber (F).

Outlook: Wheeling coach Dwayne Cruz opens up training every season with an eager group ready to learn and work to get better, with a solid core of three to four players more than capable to compete in a high-profile soccer conference such as the MSL. It's the same story this year as the Wildcats aim to replace a few top-notch - and graduated - players. "We've had a good group of seniors every year that I've been here, but that's the problem. They are seniors, and there's always this gap between having a bunch of veterans around versus so much youth and varsity inexperience," begins Cruz. "Emily, Yessenia and Sonia were terrific players and leaders, but now they're gone this year so we've got to count on the few returning players to set an example for the new ones. We're excited wth the new, young talented girls coming into the program, and the hope is they will be ones to finally make a difference and help turn this program around to where we can compete at a higher level in the conference."

MSL WESTBarringtonCoach: Ryan Stengren (9th year, 152-37-16).

Last year: 22-2-4 (11-0-0), MSL champs, third-place, 3A state tournament).

Graduation losses: Jenna Szczesny (F, two-time all-state, two-time Daily Herald all-area captain, two-time Gatorade Player of the year, 102 career goals, playing at Loyola), Hannah Luedtke (GK, all-state, three-time all-area, all-MSL, 58 career shutouts, playing at Butler), Ann Marie Niro (MF, all-area, all-MSL, playing at Notre Dame), Megan Fox (MF, all-area, all-MSL), Kelsey Muniz (MF-F, all-MSL), Annalise Avers (MF), Anna Lageschulte (F).

Top returning players: Seniors Lauren Pircher (D), Lauren Bulanda (F-MF), ; juniors Jackie Batliner (D-MF, all-area, all-MSL), Anna Brodjian (MF), Kayla Keck (D), Maesyn Poidomani (F), Kayla Schutter (F), Soph Spinell (MF-F), Ellie Stodola (D-MF), Haley Tausend (D); sophomores Samantha Schmitz (GK), Michayla Herr (MF).

New faces: Juniors Sydney Bowling (MF), Annika Lutz (MF), Allie Quinn (GK); sophomore Lauren Caffe (D); freshmen Christine Batliner (D), Trina Kuhlmann MF), Ashley Prell (MF),

Outlook: The Fillies will be aiming for an unprecendented fifth straight MSL title this spring - but this is not the typical Barrington side you will be watching. Jenna Szczesny, the premier scorer in the state recently, is playing at Loyola, while the best goalie around, Hannah Luedtke, is wearing the blue and white shirt at Butler. Those two helped the Fillies ring up 78 wins in their four seasons, earned two state trophies and made the team a perennial state power. "It's going to be a little different around here this season," says Barrington coach Ryan Stengren, who know it will be impossible to replace Szczesny and Luedtke and points out another area of strength for last year's squad. "The group we had in the midfield was amazing - they could defend, create, attack, score. They did it all, and that is something we're really going to miss." Megan Fox, Kelsey Muniz and Ann Marie Niro provide plenty of ammunition for Szczesny and whomever Stengren had alongside his all-state striker, while giving the Fillies cool, calm confidence which filtered through the rest of the club. Despite all of these losses, the Fillies do return their vaunted back line intact. Lauren Pircher, the lone senior on the roster, along with Jackie Batliner, Kayla Keck and Haley Tausend only allowed 13 goals against a rugged schedule, and Samantha Schmitz takes over in goal. Batliner is a first-rate player, both in the back or into the middle should Stengren look for inspiration in his attack. The Fillies return 23 goals from four young players who earned valuable experience last season in heavy minutes.

ConantCoach: Jason Franco (11th year, 141-61-20).

Last year: 16-7-1 (7-3-1), regional, sectional champs, lost to New Trier (3-0) in supersectional final.

Graduation losses: Leah Celarek (MF, all-state, three-time all-area, all-sectional, four-time all-MSL, 57 career goals, playing at Marquette), Haley Anderson (GK, all-area, all-MSL, 40 career shutouts, Illinois), Katie Lomas (D, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL), Sidney O'Keeffe (F, all-area, all-MSL, 30 career goals, playing at Elmhurst College).

Top returning players: Seniors Zoe Shoro (MF), Rachel Raymer (MF), Marisa Dizonno (MF), Gianna Angiulo (MF); juniors Emily Mazurek (F, all-area, all-MSL, 17g), Brittany Laskero (MF); sophomores Beth Dolce (D), Kaylin Feeley (F), Miranda Glennon (MF).

New faces: Junior Christy Dizonno (D); sophomores Taylor Cyr (GK), Bella Grebenor (D), Morgan Ragusin (MF); freshmen Stephanie Mazurek (MF), Jess Smeltzer (F).

Outlook: Here's a program where you should know what to expect each and every season. Take last year as an example, when the Cougars put together a two-week thrill ride through the postseason which ended with coach Jason Franco's side nearly reaching the final weekend of the season. Only a supersectional loss to eventual state champion New Trier kept Conant from making the final four. That deep playoff run was accomplished largely through the efforts of a brilliant quartet of players who have all moved after each made their mark on the program. "We have several familiar faces returning, but we also have some very big holes to fill after losing Lomas, Celarek, O'Keeffe and Anderson, four of Conant's all-time best," said Franco. "The biggest question for us will be who ends up in the back, so we're looking at a number of talented attacking players to switch roles and fill the backline," said Franco, who has named Beth Dolce the heir apparent to Lomas as the captain of the defense. It appears the club will be its strongest from the middle on up, with a solid veteran group of Zoe Shoro, Marisa Dizonno and Gianna Angiulo welcoming newcomer Stephanie Mazurek to the midfield. One of the most dynamic attacking players around is Emily Mazurek (17 goals), who shined during the postseason one year ago, and, who, together with Kaylin Feeley (10 goals) will form a deadly duo up front.

FremdCoach: Steve Keller (16th year, 218-102-30).

Last year: 10-9-1.

Graduation losses: Katie Zara (MF-F, all-area, all-MSL, Washington University, MO), Jessica Kopec (MF, all-area, all-MSL, playing at St. Louis University), Caroline Freeman (D, all-area, all-MSL), Liz Flavin (D-MF), Sarah Aftelak (F), Janine Burchert (MF-D), Sarah Marturano (D), Danielle Money (MF), Annika Morin (D-MF), Emily Rogers (F-MF), Reilly Siepka (D).

Top returning players: Seniors Kellie Halloran (MF), Katie Murauskis (F), Nikki Gary (F), Courtney Baker (D; juniors Kelsey Stone (GK, all-MSL, 9 shutouts), Julie Szylke (MF), Missy Adrian (F), Emilijia Peleckas (F), Tara Bergles (F).

New faces: Juniors McKenna Miller (MF), Allison Marozza (MF); sophomore Marta Cholewa; freshmen Layla Dib (MF), Angie Zara (F), Kayla Tanner (MF).

Outlook: Both Fremd and Conant have been on the heels of Barrington in the chase for the division crown in recent seasons. And while each has fallen short in their collective bids to do so, both have enjoyed success when the state series begins soon after the league race has been sorted out. The consensus is that Fremd will be in the MSL West title picture against this year, provided the Vikings can sort things out defensively. "Our season will be a success if we figure out our defense, because if we do, we will compete for a conference title and perhaps more thereafter," says coach Keller, who will piece together a defensive unit hurt by the loss of the terrific duo of Caroline Freeman and Liz Flavin. Keller, a master of tactical change with his roster, says he'll likely move a few pieces around until he likes what he sees. But what he does like already is the ability of his club to attack. Should the Vikings go with a 4-3-3 formation, the trio of Peleckas, Adrian and Bergles will line up along the front and give Keller a potent threat, perhaps the most dangerous in the conference. What Keller also has is the league's best returning keeper in Kelsey Stone, who proved last season to be a fearless shot-stopper.

Hoffman EstatesCoach: Jeff Bird (1st year).

Last year: 5-10-2

Graduation losses: Ale Alonso (MF, Chicago State), Karina Luna, Jessica Miller, Tori Tompkins.

Top returning players: Seniors Jennifer Nailor (D, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL), Sharon Lopez (MF), Michelle Montes De Oca (F), Francesca Van (GK, 2015 all-MSL); juniors Natalie Nagrant (F), Anna Sall (MF); sophomores Vanessa Alonso (D), Vanessa Bonilla (MF), Molly Salerno (MF).

New faces: Senior Ena Sabanagic (MF); sophomore Emma Lunak (D); freshmen Isabella Alansari (MF), Payton Badziong (D), Kaitlyn Krogstad (D), Katherine Lopez (MF).

Outlook: With a new coach and a fresh approach along with the return of nine returning starters and the addition of a club player to the program, the Hawks have high hopes. "This conference, and in particular our division, with the traditionally strong teams like Barrington, Conant, Fremd and Palatine always the teams to beat, we haven't been one of those 'teams to watch' in quite some time," says coach Jeff Bird. "But I think we might open some eyes this upcoming season." Hoffman Estates welcomes back NIU-bound back-line anchor Jennifer Nailor, plus plenty of emerging young talent to go along with Ena Sabanagic (Purdue) to help run the show out of the middle. "We're excited to see Ena come back for her senior year, who along with Anna Sall, Molly Salerno. Sharon Lopez and Vanessa Bonilla gives us a solid group of midfielders who we expect to create some dynamic play out there," Bird said. While it appears the back seven of the Hawks, including acrobatic keeper Francesca Van, will be able to compete, it's no secret the club has struggled at times to score. "Natalie (Nagrant) has a strong attacking sense, and we're expecting more from her, as well as Michelle (Montes De Oca) who will play alongside her," said Bird. "If those two get the support and play we hope to receive from our midfield, then our scoring chances and opportunities to finish will increase also."

PalatineCoach: Willie Filian (24th year, 266-162-45).

Last year: 8-11-1

Graduation losses: Kellie Reynolds (F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 10 goals last season, Illinois State), Erin Mayer (MF), Kaitlin Conklin (MF), Carly Iacullo (D, all-MSL), Michelle Raymond (F, all-MSL), Morgan Anderson (MF).

Top returning players: Seniors Cora Jacobsen (D), Allison Rzepka (D); juniors Mackenzie Fillian (MF), Kaitlyn Strauss (D), Samantha Malak (MF), Francesca Falato (GK), Lauren Ellis (D), Kendall Kane (F); sophomores Kacie Filian (MF), Sarah Clancy (F), Anja Jacobsen (MF), Marissa Glaviano (MF).

New faces: Junior Mary Kate Healy (MF); sophomore Isabel Esquivel (MF); freshmen Amaya Rivera (GK).

Outlook: Even with all-area striker Kellie Reynolds running hard and creating chances for herself and others, the Pirates' lack of firepower proved costly at times last year. And now that the three-year starter is off to college, it might seem that part of the game will be a challenge for Palatine this year. "With us not having any natural forwards on our club, (scoring chances) with the loss of Kellie will be scarce from the run of play," said coach Willie Filian. The good news for Pirates fans is that the team still has a first-rate midfield in place, a confident, cohesive and expressive unit capable of ruining things for their opponents on any given day. Youth was served here last spring when Filian brought 10 underclassmen aboard to begin the season, many of whom earned spots in his first 11, including Sarah Clancy, who will be asked to be more of an attacking player this year after spending her freshman season in the middle or defending. "Clancy is more of a withdrawn forward with her club team, but she's an excellent target player so we'll use her in the more in the midfield this year because she reads the game so well and can distribute," says Filian. Daughters Mackenzie and Kacie Filian are also key figures, with Mackenzie, a junior, handling the attacking and creative chores. Kacie, a sophomore, takes on the role of the defensive central midfielder as all three will be expected to give 70-80 minutes on match day.

SchaumburgCoach: Greg Charvat (24th year, 222-163-42).

Last year: 5-11-3 (3-5-3).

Graduation losses: Brittany Reinhart (D-MF, all-MSL, playing at Elmhurst College), Kennedy Irmen (MF-D, playing at Elmhurst College), Analica Morales.

Top returning players: Seniors Christina Kim (F-GK), Kayla Kowal (F), Julia Morales (D), Melissa Nava (D), Alexis Orozco (D), Briana Orozco (F); juniors Gina D'Orazio (MF), Melanie Diebold (MF), Katie Farb MF), Abigail Paolicchi (MF), Jacqueline Argueta (MF), Cassidy Watson (MF); sophomores Emmalyn Aguilar (GK), Dana Kiszkowski (F), Samantha Minneci (MF).

New faces: Junior Emily Reddy (GK); freshmen Lexi Ruscheinsky (D), Allison Schaar (F).

Outlook: The Saxons have struggled to reach the upper levels of the MSL West in recent seasons. But last season, despite its sub-.500 overall record, the club was much more competitive, thanks in part to the duo of Brittany Reinhart and her good friend, Kennedy Irmen. They installed plenty of pride and a high work rate into the program, before going on to become key figures at Elmhurst College this school year. "Although both Brittany and Kennedy graduated, we return with more experience that we've had in recent years, along with a nice core of players to add to the mix," says coach Greg Charvat. "We've shown improvement in our training sessions, and if we improve on the offensive side of the pitch while keeping our shape defensively and staying consistent on both sides of the ball, we should improve on our overall win total." The Saxons lost a pair of 1-0 matches, and drew 1-1 on three others in the MSL, so an improvement in the final third would go a long way toward a higher win total this time around.

NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICChristian Liberty AcademyCoach: Aaron DeRidder (3rd year, 14-11-0).

Last year: 8-4-0 (6-2-0), 1A regional champions.

Graduation losses: Anna Davis (North Park).

Top returning players: Seniors Maddie Bennett (MF, three-time all-NAC), Sam Amedin (F), Cassie Swiderik.

New faces: Freshmen Bethany Woods, Joyce Alvarez.

Outlook: The Chargers, who have been short on both roster quality and quantity in the early stages of their soccer program history, are no longer facing those challenges. Instead, the arrow is pointing straight up for the Christian Liberty, which won its first-ever regional crown a year ago and also celebrated Maddie Bennett as its first three-time all-conference player. "We have 21 or 22 players, so we finally have some depth, and after losing just one player from last year's team we're looking to build on what we accomplished last season," says coach Aaron DeRidder. Bennett and teammate Sam Amedin combined for over 20 goals and assists last season, so DeRidder figures this dynamic duo, along with Annie Bennett, will run the attack out of the midfield while providing the bulk of the scoring for the Chargers. And with its back line returning nearly intact, opponents should find it even more difficult to score against Christian Liberty.

WEST SUBURBAN GOLDLeydenCoach: Rob Fowler (9th year, 69-81-9).

Last year: 7-15-1 (2-4-0).

Graduation losses: Brenda Valdez (Oakton), Bianca Medina (MF-D, playing at Clarke College, Iowa). Dagmara Nowicka (F, 12g).

Top returning players: Seniors Michelle Andrade (MF), Jocelyn Garcia (D), Yaneli Dorado (MF), Rosalia Trupiano (F), Gabriela Castillo (MF).

New faces: Junior Nohely Suarez (D); freshman Liliana Herrera (D).

Outlook: Rob Fowler will always get the most out of his club, even when big turnover on his roster leaves he and his staff with several new faces in his starting lineup. This time around, the Eagles' coach enjoys having a solid core of returning veterans to lean on, With that comes the hope for better results, both in and out of league play. "There's a group of 7-8 seniors back with multiple years of experience on the varsity that will be the strength of this team, which should help us overcome our inexperience along the back," said Fowler. "We figure one of our seniors (Jocelyn Garcia) will help bring things together, to solidify our defense." The Eagles' main scoring threat from a year ago, Nowicka, is gone. But Fowler figures distribution from Michelle Andrade (10 assists) and creativity in the middle, the duo of Trupiano and Castillo up top should easily improve on their scoring totals over last year. Stops along the way at the PepsiCo and Windy City Classic tournaments will better prepare the Eagles' intended run toward a higher spot in the West Suburban Gold conference standings.

CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTHMaine WestCoach: Jeff Bishop (4th year, 22-33-4).

Last year: 9-8-2 (2-1-2).

Graduation losses: Joanne Stanfa (MF-F, two-time all-area, all-CSL, 42 career goals, playing at Carthage), Ales Farone (F, Oakton, 8g), Yessica Reyes (MF, 6g, 8a, Oakton), Robin Grooms (Illinois), Maria Espinoza, Marlene Luna.

Top returning players: Seniors Rachel Kolling (MF, all-CSL), Allie Webb (MF), Dorothy Calba (MF), Carly Hart (D), Julie Garcia (F), Bailey Room (D); juniors Julia Deac (MF), Elizabeth McCabe (D).

New faces: Sophomore Natalie Trytko (F); freshmen Ally Block (MF-D), Sarah Magnoni (D), Maddie Roppel (MF).

Outlook: The Warriors' hopes to get into the back of the net last spring rested largely on the shoulders of Joanne Stanfa, Ales Farone and Yessica Reyes, who combined to bag 34 goals. But all three are now off at college, leaving questions about where the scoring will come from this season. "Those will be tough kids to replace, no doubt, but the strength this year should be our experience, and our ability to hold the ball," said coach Jeff Bishop. "And with a very strong back line in place, we can have a very good year when it's all said and done." The affable fourth-year coach figures Deerfield will likely defend its conference title, with perhaps a young but talented club from Glenbrook North capable of challenging. A plus for Maine West is the return of the hard-working and technically skilled Rachel Kolling leading at midfield. "It's the seniors, such as Rachel and Allie Webb (a four-year veteran) who will lead us this year," said Bishop. "And if they and others play strong, and a talented group of freshmen follow them, we will find ourselves having a lot of success in and out of the conference."

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLICSt. ViatorCoach: Mike Taylor (7th year, 90-47-9).

Last year: 16-4-1 (7-2-1), lost to Carmel (2-0) in sectional final.

Graduation losses: Kayne Stanley (D, all-area, all-sectional, all-ESCC, Purdue), Molly Murphy (MF, all-ESCC), Emma Henry (D), Michelle Trovato (F), Caroline Cooney (MF), Molly McNamara (MF), Susie Moynihan (MF-F), Sarah Petrovich (F), Anna Johnston (GK, club), Brinley McVeigh (MF, club), Felicia Moncada (MF, club)

Top returning players: Seniors Lauren Kohn (MF, all-area, two-time all-ESCC), Maggie Leazer (D, 2015 all-area, all-ESCC), Colleen Gallagher (GK); juniors Maureen McGrath (D, all-ESCC), Delia Douglas (MF-F); sophomore Megan Vicens (F).

New faces: Senior Ashley Steadman (F); junior Sarah Schade (D); sophomores Katie Schade (D), Michaela Mueller (MF), Mauve Schumacher (F), Emily Botcher (MF); freshmen Payton McConnell (MF).

Outlook: Three losses to club soccer, along with the graduation of a superb back-line star and veteran leader will likely slow the early season progress of the Lions. Not to worry says Mike Taylor, who knows from his 30-plus years that it's not how you start, but rather how you finish, that matters. "To be honest, if we had Kayne (Stanley) still in the back and in front of Anna (Johnston) in goal, I would put us in the final four without giving it a thought," Taylor said. "But Kayne is off to college, and Anna, along with Brinley (McVeigh) and Felicia (Moncada) decided to help their chances of playing D-1 college soccer, so that's what we have, at least this year. And we'll make the best of it, and go from there." What the Lions do have is a wonderfully gifted four-year player in midfielder Lauren Kohn along with a potential future standout in freshman midfielder Payton McDonnell. Last year's team was at its best when Stanley was taking control, but this spring Taylor will lean heavily on senior Maggie Leazer, who showed she is quite capable of doing so during her all-area 2014 performance as a sophomore. Another bright spot is defender Maureen McGrath, who earned all-ESCC honors a year ago. "We've got a real nice core of 6-7 players who we're going to count on, and we'll likely go through some tough times in the first half of the season due to our schedule," said Taylor. "But if the younger players step up to fill the void of those who left us, we'll be in good shape when the state tournament comes around."

  Hersey's Grace Kozurek, right, celebrates last season with teammate Jessica Schmidt, left, after a goal. Joe Lewnard/
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