Girls soccer: Postseason scouting, Northwest

Girls soccer: Postseason scouting, Northwest

CLASS 3AGeneva sectionalAdvancement: The Geneva sectional champion advances to play the Rockford Guilford sectional champ in the Barrington supersectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.

Top 4 seeds, in order: St. Charles North (17-0-1), Wheaton Warrenville South (12-7-0), Batavia (13-3-2), St. Charles East (11-5-6)

Touchline talk: This is a star-filled sectional, beginning with the brilliant duo of Hailey Rydberg and Gia Wahlberg, who have led the top-rated St. Charles North from the first day of the season. The two all-state candidates have combined for 38 goals and have had a hand in 63 of the total 77 the North Stars have finished.

Conant junior Stephanie Mazurek (19 goals), who should garner plenty of all-state consideration herself when voting takes place this week, leads an underrated Conant team which enters as the No. 6 seed. The Cougars have their opener against No. 11 Wheaton North (4-13-2), and Conant coach Jason Franco won't be looking past the Falcons. "North can defend, so that record they have means nothing," he said. "It's important that we keep that in mind and just got about our business of winning and advancing only."

Franco will lean heavily on his veteran trio of Miranda Glennon (MF), Taylor Cyr (GK) and Delaney Hoye, who has been a pleasant surprise along the back line in her rookie season.

No. 10 seed Elk Grove (11-5-2), fresh off its first MSL Soccer Bowl appearance since 2002, will look to terrific seniors Emma Slattery and Zoe Blomquist to lead a young side forward. Thirteenth seed Rolling Meadows (7-12-1) is a team which should not be taken lightly by No. 4 St. Charles East in its regional opener at the Mustangs' home park.

Glenbrook South sectionalAdvancement: The Glenbrook South sectional champion advances to play the Libertyville sectional champ in the Evanston supersectional at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.

Top 4 seeds, in order: New Trier (18-0-2), Loyola (16-1-4), Glenbrook South (17-3-5), Evanston (12-7-4)

Touchline talk: It could be argued New Trier and Loyola are the two of the best teams in this half of the state after recent finishing stretches in which the two North Shore powers have outclassed their last 10 opponents, with the Trevians' recent 2-0 win over Lake Forest counting as victory No. 500 in Jim Burnside's brilliant coaching career.

Burnside has added two more to his record since then, including a win over No. 3 Glenbrook South for the Central Suburban League championship.

"(Burnside) is the reason this team and program have had so much success over the years, but he will keep us focused on the task ahead, which is to get back downstate and win a state title," said senior Nicole Kaspi, who will play next fall at Chicago.

Sixth seed Prospect (10-8-2) will need to go through a gritty club from Evanston in the Wildkits' own regional.

The Knights hope to get their attack back in top form after failing to score in five of its last 10 games, during which they went 3-5-2, both scoring and conceding 10 goals.

Tenth seed Maine West meets CSL rival Maine South (No.8 seed, 9-6-6) in its regional opener, with the winner facing New Trier.

Libertyville sectionalAdvancement: The Libertyville sectional champion advances to play the Glenbrook South sectional champ in Evanston supersectional at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29.

Top 4 seeds, in order: Lake Zurich (10-2-3), Stevenson (9-6-3), Libertyville (10-6-3), Carmel (12-4-1).

Touchline talk: With traditional MSL powers Buffalo Grove, Fremd, Hersey and Palatine entering play this week with a combined 24-37-8 overall record, it's easy to see why any in that quartet was unable to secure a top-four seed.

Still, this foursome should not be overlooked when regional play opens. Each of the MSL teams in the sectional are quite capable of springing a playoff surprise or two.

Ninth seed Buffalo Grove (7-6-1) hopes to avenge an early loss to No. 9 Fremd (6-9-4) in its regional opener, while No. 8 Palatine (5-10-2) and four-year standout Sarah Clancy would like nothing better than to oust top-rated Lake Zurich if they meet in the Warren regional final. Clancy will play at Indiana State next fall.

Twelfth seed Hersey (6-12-1) was in the race for the MSL East title until the very last day of the regular season. The Huskies' best player, Laura Burckhardt, looks to lead an inexperienced club through the toughest of four regional sites, at Mundelein.

The Huskies open with perhaps the sleeper in this sectional, Mundelein (10-5-2), with East Suburban Catholic Conference runner-up Carmel next up should Hersey dash the hopes of the No. 5 Mustangs and their fine midfielder, Myah Strokosch.

The Mustangs have beaten both No. 1 Lake Zurich (3-2) and No. 3 Libertyville (2-0) this season.

Rockford Guilford sectionalAdvancement: The Guilford sectional champion advances to play the Geneva sectional champ in the Barrington supersectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.

Top 4 seeds, in order: Barrington (14-3-2), Jacobs (10-5-2), Cary-Grove (10-2-2), DeKalb (14-6-1).

Touchline talk: Seven-time MSL champion Barrington was shipped far west this spring, away from more familiar rivals in its own league and the North Suburban Conference. Aside from that, the story is still pretty much the same for the defending state champ Fillies, who expect every opponent's best effort.

"We're all aware of what it would mean for someone to end our season early in the postseason," said Barrington coach Ryan Stengren. "It's something we talk about from the first day of training and all the way through, and that's to respect your opponent, regardless of its record."

Barrington beings its postseason against No. 17 seed McHenry on Tuesday afternoon. Although this year's team has had plenty of success, the roster is much different than the senior-laden crew of last spirng.

"We lost a lot of four-year players from last year's team, but even with so many first-time varsity players on our roster, who have worked hard to improve and continue on the Barrington tradition, we found a way to compete against several of the top teams in the state and advance into the MSL championship game," says Michayla Herr, voted the co-player of the year in the MSL along with Stephanie Mazurek of Conant.

Teammates Ashley Prell (16 goals) and Samantha Schmitz (10 shutouts) have enjoyed all-state caliber seasons. Prell, a junior, has become a dynamic force up top, while the Harvard-bound Schmitz has once again displayed superb technical and tactical expertise in goal while guiding a young back line led by by Juliana Moreno and Christine Batliner.

Dundee-Crown coach Sebastian Falinski suggests fellow FVC club Cary-Grove is one to watch aside from the favored Fillies.

"(Cary-Grove) has sisters Kelly and Jenna Stayart, who are very good, plus a roster filled with several role players," so says Falinski, who starred at Lewis University, and before that at Conant, where he led the Cougars to an MSL title in his senior year, and a fourth-place finish at state the year before.

Cary-Grove coach Ray Krystal is on the FCX club staff during the off-season, where many of the Barrington players train and play.

CLASS 2ASt. Viator (at Robert Morris Field)Advancement: The St. Viator sectional champion advances to play the Rochelle sectional champ in Streamwood supersectional at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.

Top 4 seeds: Wauconda (14-1-1), Deerfield (16-4-2), St. Viator (12-5-2), Antioch (13-4-2).

Touchline talk: For nearly 40 years as a head coach, Mike Taylor has subscribed to the old soccer adage of, "goals win games, defense wins championships." And in the case of his club from St. Viator, that approahc has sure worked well.

When the Lions beat Nazareth on Saturday to secure the 10th East Suburban Catholic Conference title in program history, they did so by producing their 15th shutout of the season.

"Anna Johnston is a great keeper, we have Sam DeJulio in support of her as our center back, and we defend really well as a team," said Taylor, whose team is the first in conference history to shut out all of its opponents in league play.

Until recently, the Lions had struggled to score in volume. But Taylor's recent move of Brinley McVeigh to striker has paid dividends, and the hope his side is now more dangerous in the final third when the results really count.

Second-seeded Deerfield has been a postseason thorn in the side of the Lions over the years, and the Warriors its gifted sophomore midfielder Mallori Killoren (22 goals) await in a sectional semifinal. If Viator can win that one, scoring standout Kayla Wisniewski and top seed and Northern Lake County Conference champ Wauconda would likely be the Lions' opponent in a sectional final.

- Mike Garofola

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