Girls soccer: Scouting the postseason in Cook and Lake County

The 2024 girls soccer regular season is wrapped up with plenty of excitement for the fans of Barrington, Lakes Community and Libertyville who each captured championship trophies in their respective conferences.

The best time of the year is about ready to begin — with the stakes high, and plenty of thrills and spills awaiting those who adore their favorite sport.

So let's take a quick look at the Class 2A and 3A sectionals in which area teams will be a part of:

Barrington was anointed the No. 1 seed at the Huntley sectional, and would jump-start its postseason aspirations when it took home its 12th consecutive MSL Soccer Cup title last week following a 3-1 victory over Hersey.

"It was great winning another MSL Cup for the program, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us," said Fillies senior Kaitlin Taylor, a key figure in that win over Hersey, who with junior Piper Lucier were the goal scorers.

All-State candidates Roos Van Roekel (center-back) and Megan Holland (11.5 shutouts, 0.26 goals against average) are part of a stingy unit along the back, while on the other side of the park it's another pair of all-state candidates in Lucier and 2023 all-state forward Sarah Sarnowski. Together they have 23 goals and 24 assists.

Add the ball winning excellence of senior Maddy Ziebarth in the middle of the park and overall depth of quality, and the Fillies will be a tough opponent to bargain with.

The Fillies (15-1-2) will be wary of a handful of others who are looking to take the state power out of the tournament.

One such club is No. 2 seed Lake Zurich (14-2-3) which possess a lethal trio of attacking talent.

The Bears have 2023 all-state forward Lauren Bailey along with teammates Sydney Arendarczyk and Reilly Novak. They have combined for 45 goals and 35 assists.

Keeper Erin Bohn has 10 shutouts and a 0.62 goals against average.

Another quality club from the NSC is No. 3 Warren whose young side is led by 2023 all-state junior Addison Stanciak (16 goals) and senior Reese Mertens. They have led the Blue Devils to a 11-7-1 overall record.

Mertens will attend the University of Iowa in the fall while Stanciak has committed to play at St. Louis following her 2025 school year.

Over at the Hersey sectional, the competition will be fierce among the top four seeds, in addition to No. 5 Stevenson (12-4-2) and No. 6 Hersey (12-8-2) who each have scoring stars who can make the difference when it counts.

Maryland-bound Ellie Egeland (Stevenson) is closing in on 30 goals, while Hersey sophomore Gracie Lisota (13 goals) is capable of striking from distance at any time with her powerful left foot.

No. 1 Glenbrook South (12-2-6) welcomed back a handful of club players this spring and those additions have paid major dividends.

Fremd (11-4-4) has played top flight competition all season and has a wealth of potential all-state stars in Gemma Gillespie, Bella Scesniak and Gwen Zimmerman.

No. 4 Libertyville (11-4-1) has played some of the best soccer around the area since the middle of April. The Wildcats are a sparkling 8-0-1 in the stretch which includes an impressive 3-0 victory over Stevenson to wrap up its second consecutive NSC title.

On a roster filled with underclassmen it is seniors Erin Kelly and Molly Koch providing marvelous play and leadership for coach Daniel DePaz.

"We have some really great depth on the team this year, and that's made a big difference in our success thus far," said Kelly.

The Wildcats are on a collision course with league rival Stevenson in a regional final, and Glenbrook South should they advance into a sectional semifinal.

Glenbrook South ended the Wildcats’ long unbeaten streak with a regular season finale 2-0 victory last week.

No. 8 Schaumburg has enjoyed a remarkable year under new coach Tracy Serafini after several seasons at or below .500.

The Saxons (11-6-0) will have the chance to make a bold statement at their own regional should they reach the finals where they would meet Glenbrook South.

Glenbrook North (13-3-2) is the No. 3 seed in the sectional.

Over in 2A, the aforementioned Lakes Community Eagles recently claimed its second consecutive NLCC title with a perfect 7-0-0 record, and in doing so outscored its league rivals 32-2.

"Our strength is we move the ball really well, and create plenty of chances to score, and have shown this to (be) even in three of the games that we lost," said coach Kevin Kullby.

The No. 4 seed in the Deerfield sectional is led by all-state candidate Mia Silber (17 goals, 15 assists) and the terrific trio of Raina Schmitt (19 goals), Tessa Smith and Ella Sager.

"Tessa and Ella are just outstanding as our center-backs, while Raina has an uncanny presence in and around the box," said Kulby.

"Mia has come through for us game after game with timely goals and assists and always gives us a chance to win," Kullby says of Silber, who will play in the fall at Winthrop University in South Carolina.

Should the Eagles go past a quality No. 5 seed Lake Forest, then it is onto a sectional that can easily be described as a group of granite.

Headlined by two of the top 2A teams in this half of the state, Lakes and No. 3 St. Viator (16-5-2) will look to be in form in their sectional semifinal showdowns with No. 1 Crystal Lake Central (16-2-2) and No. 2 Deerfield (16-5-2).

St. Viator has earned its best overall record since 2018 when it went 19-6-2 on its way to a 2A second place finish at state under Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Taylor.

The Lions fell short in their bid to overtake Benet in the ESCC title race, but has scored an astounding 109 goals this spring.

Crystal Lake Central, third a year ago at state, won its fifth straight FVC title and is led by Loyola Chicago-bound Olivia Anderson. Deerfield will lean on its star, Emily Fox (St. Louis), who has set far too many program scoring records to list.

Should every team hold its seed, it will be Crystal Lake Central versus Lakes and St. Viator against Deerfield in sectional semifinal play on Wednesday, May 22.

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