Girls soccer: Scouting Northwest
MID-SUBURBAN EASTBuffalo GroveCoach: Pat Dudle (10th year, 113-75-20).
Last year: 6-9-4 (6-2-3), MSL East champs.
Graduation losses: Cassie Berman (GK), Dani Bleichman (D, all-MSL), Kaylee Gerhardt (MF), Sabrina Guercio (D, all-MSL).
Top returning players: Seniors Danielle Allaire (D), Gina Bolis (MF, all-MSL), Hannah Cole (F), Brittany Lee (D), Courtney Lee (MF, all-MSL), Georgette Topalis (MF, all-area, all-MSL, all-sectional, MSL East POY); juniors Alyssa Floro (F), Martina Macaggi (MF), Kara Turner (MF); sophomores Aaliyah Rocha (MF) Zoe Robertson (D), Christina Ruterschmidt (D), Tess Vasilakos (F).
New faces to watch: Juniors Katie Derengowski (F), KK Hanner (MF); sophomores Lauren Horvath (GK), Zugey Olvera (GK), Claire Reynolds (MF); freshmen Abigail Arce (D), Macy Floro (F), Kendra Lee (D).
Outlook: Things looked a little bleak after a rough start for the Bison last season -- but they nonetheless managed to put aside a less than sparkling nonconference record to win the MSL East with a stingy defense and high work rate. "We had a slow start last season, but I was very proud of the way our players were able to grind out a division title, and I'm hoping those back from that team can draw from that experience in order to compete for another title," said Pat Dudle. The head coach will build from the back once again with the trio of Danielle Allaire, Brittany Lee and Zoe Robertson forming a solid unit in front of a new keeper, while Winona State-bound Georgette Topalis runs the show at midfield with her usual high energy and pace, which earned her MSL East player of the year honors a year ago.
Elk GroveCoach: Dan Klaus (16th year, 127-155-19).
Last year: 3-12-2 (2-8-1).
Graduation losses: Cassie Slattery (MF), Ally Czyzewski (playing at Harper Junior College) Liz McDaniel (MF), Bailey Murphy.
Top returning players: Juniors Emma Slattery (D, all-MSL), Zoe Blomquist (MF), Amanda Sitkowski (MF-F), Emma Simmons (D), Leila Aguilar (MF-F); sophomores Rachel Kandefer (GK), Holly Olson (MF-D), Gabiella Mauro (MF), Marisa Mauro (D).
New faces to watch: Freshmen Emily Sitkowski (MF-F), Kate Talens (MF-F), Teodora Evtimova (MF-F), Megan Murray (D).
Outlook: You won't find a single senior on the Grens' roster this spring, but things will only improve with time according to head coach Dan Klaus, who will find things easier after he and his staff blend a long list of juniors with some very talented freshmen. "Our juniors have a lot of experience, so we feel we can still be successful after our young kids get acclimated to the pace and physical play at a higher level," says Klaus, the dean of MSL East coaches, who could start three rookies up top, including the highly regarded Emily Sitkowski. "With the exception of a couple of games last season, we were involved in many competitive games, so this year we want to play good soccer, compete to our best of our abilities, and make a run at a division title."
HerseyCoach: Darren Llewellyn (4th year, 38-24-7).
Last year: 7-12-3 (3-6-2).
Graduation losses: Claire Neimczyk (D, all-MSL, Indiana), Susan Lindstrom (D, all-MSL, UW-LaCrosse).
Top returning players: Seniors Erin Smetana (D), Olivia Basis (MF), Claire Callahan (F), Grace Kozurek (F), Allison Busby (MF); junior Heidi Freitag (MF); sophomores Laura Burckhardt (MF-F), Emily Song (D).
New faces to watch: Freshmen Jenna Hill (MF), Chloe Sena (F), Katie Fredian (MF), Gabriella Koczurek (F-MF).
Outlook: Two consecutive seasons of heavy graduation losses would finally catch up with Darren Llewellyn, who for the first time in charge saw his side fall below the .500 mark at seasons end. "We basically had to rebuild our backline and midfield, but towards the end of the season, the girls showed well, and now that same group each has that (all) important varsity experience under the belts," said the Huskies head coach, who with some young talent arriving will look add some firepower to an attack which went through a midseason streak which saw them go six matches without finding the back of the net.
ProspectCoach: Tom Froats (15th year, 154-114-37).
Last year: 13-6-4 (6-3-2).
Graduation losses: Mehgan Rickett (GK, all-area, all-MSL, 0.82, Illinois State), Andi Marfilius (F, all-area, all-MSL, Iowa State), MIchelle Hanning (D, Marquette), Taylor Sliwa (F, playing at Carthage College), Kathryn Szukalla (D, St. Louis University).
Top returning players: Seniors Grace Bauer (MF), Faith Fitzsimmons (MF), Kendra Gancarz (D), Caroline Hajek (MF), Grace Johannesen (D), Aly Kobler (D), Grace Taldone (D); juniors Natalie Marfilius (D); sophomores Shawna Stokes (F, all-area, all-MSL, 11g), Ella Marzolf (F), Tina Suto (D), Marissa Valentini (D), Ashley Welk (F).
New faces to watch: Senior Meredith Nyborg (D-GK); junior Sarah Mulvihill (MF), sophomores Madalyn Ladd (D), Jalyn Mosely (F-D), Kristin Schneider (F), Helen Siavelis (D).
Outlook: The Lady Knights appear to be in fine shape this spring with several returning starters in place, many of which will form a rampant attacking unit to give Tom Froats' club the necessary pieces to challenge for the top spot in its division this spring. "We have plenty of valuable varsity experience players back with us this season, with multiple attacking personalities through which to build our offense, along with a strong group of defensive minded players as part of our depth," says Froats. The speed and elusive play from: Stokes and Marzolf, make them a sharp pair of front runners for the club, while the trio of Marfilius, Johannesen and Kobler are highly capable of providing quality work along the back, and in front of the Knights' new keeper.
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Mike Drenth (5th year, 30-56-11).
Last year: 5-11-4 (2-6-3).
Graduation losses: Jackie Yousif.
Top returning players: Seniors Laura Dacy (MF), Claire Donlon (D), Mary Donlon (D), Taylor Gunn (F), Meghan Kelly (MF), Jenna Manos (D), Kelsey Nallon (GK), Katherine Perille (MF-F, all-MSL), Teresa Perille (MF), Claire Preissing (MF-D), Madeline Rebsamen (MF), Kyra Spiwak (MF), Hannah Ungurean (D).
New faces to watch: Sophomores Alexa Davis, Kate Mallek.
Outlook: With most, or all of the current players on the varsity roster now in its third or fourth year with the big club, this may finally be the year of the Mustangs. "We've been really young for awhile now - but now we're a team with plenty of experience, so in a division which I feel is wide open, there's a chance for us this season," says Drenth, the Mustangs head coach. "We lost almost all of our games by one goal a year ago, so we have to turn that around, and find a little more scoring along the way also." Drenth has four-year veterans from front-to-back, beginning with Preissing and Katherine Perille, the club's leading scoring in 2016.
WheelingCoach: Dwayne Cruz (4th year, 5-36-1)
Last year: 1-12-0 (0-11-0).
Graduation losses: Nancy Diaz (MF), Daisy Guerrero (D, Illinois Wesleyan), Alysssa Peterson (D, BYU).
Top returning players: Seniors Emma Fister (D, all-MSL), Guadalupe Bucio (MF), Yadira Escubedo (MF), Carolyn Webber (DMF).
New faces to watch: Freshmen Ally Ferraro (F), Emily Reyes (F), Jasmine Yusef (F).
Outlook: You have to hand it to Dwayne Cruz and his staff for its desire to stay with a program which has been at the bottom of the table during his first three years as head coach. "It's tough to compete with the elite teams we have in the MSL when there isn't a youth program feeding players into us here at Wheeling - but we're taking steps to change that, but in the meantime, we have a terrific group of girls who work hard, want to get better, and are a great bunch of kids to be around," said Cruz, who has led a strong womens program at Harper Junior College for 18 seasons.
MID-SUBURBAN WESTBarringtonCoach: Ryan Stengren (10th year, 172-40-17).
Last year: 20-3-1 (11-0-0), MSL, regional. sectional champs.
Graduation losses: Lauren Pircher (D, all-area, all-MSL), Lauren Bulanda (F-MF), Kayla Schutter (F).
Top returning players: Seniors Jackie Batliner (D, all-state, two-time all-area, 2016 Daily Herald Northwest all-area captain, MSL West POY), Anna Brodjian (MF, all-area, all-MSL), Kayla Keck (D, all-area, all-MSL), Maesyn Poidomani (F), Sophia Spinell (MF, all-state, all-area, all-MSL), Ellie Stodola (D), Haley Tausend (D, all-area, all-MSL), Annika Lutz (GK), Allie Quinn (GK), Sydney Bowling (MF); juniors Michayla Herr (MF), Samantha Schmitz (GK), Lauren Caffe (D), Chole Trom (MF); sophomores Christine Batliner (F), Ashley Prell (MF).
New faces to watch: Junior Madi Rosen (D); sophomore Ashley Rocco (D); freshmen Juliana Moreno (D), Tina Teik (MF).
Outlook: One year ago, Barrington was inexplicably jettisoned from the tournament when it appeared the MSL champs were on its way to a another state trophy. "Things happen during the postseason, and for us, it was our inability to finish our chances," said Fillies head coach, Ryan Stengren, whose club won an unprecedented fifth consecutive MSL title last season. "We have a solid group of girls back, all with plenty of experience, and against a high profile schedule, but Fremd is looking like the team to beat right now, so we have some work ahead of us." Stengren and his staff are two deep at most spots, plus have plenty of options should he tweak his lineup or try a different formation in order to maximize his talented roster. A stingy backline, led by Keck and Tausend, is still in place, while the top player in the area, Jackie Batliner, bound for DePaul next fall, together with the likes of Sophia Spinell and others gives the club that extra special something in the attack.
ConantCoach: Jason Franco (12th year, 152-68-22).
Last year: 11-7-2 (7-2-2).
Graduation losses: Rachel Raymer (MF, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, Florida Gulf Coast), Zoe Shoro (MF), Marisa Dizonno (MF), Gianna Angiulo (MF).
Top returning players: Seniors Emily Mazurek (F, two-time all-area, two-time all-sectional, all-MSL, 35 career goals), Brittany Laskero (MF), Christy Dizonno (D); juniors Beth Dolce (D, all-MSL), Kaylin Feeley (F, all-MSL), Miranda Glennon (D), Taylor Cyr (GK, 12 shutouts); sophomore Stephanie Mazurek (F, all-area, all-MSL, 7g).
New faces to watch: Senior Katie Celarek (D); juniors Bella Grebenor (D), Morgan Ragussin (MF); sophomore Jessica Smeltzer (F); freshmen Delaney Hoye (D), Julianna Madonia (MF).
Outlook: One thing is for certain, the Cougars can always be found at or near the top of the table when the season draws to a close. Unfortunately for Jason Franco's club, so is Barrington, the reigning MSL champs, who along with division rival Fremd appear to be the ones to beat this spring. "Those (two) look to be the clear favorites, but we'll look to challenge them at the top, get through a schedule loaded with perennial state powers, then look to get ourselves a long, deep run in the playoffs," says Franco. The collective talent of the Cougars eight returning starters is first rate, led by one of the best in the business, Emily Mazurek, while the backline of: Dizonno, Dolce and Glennon are sturdy and sharp in front of the underrated (Cyr) who would shine during her first year with the big club.
Fremd Coach: Steve Keller (17th year, 228-110-34).
Last year: 10-8-4 (5-2-4), regional champs.
Graduation losses: Courtney Baker (D, all-area, all-MSL), Kellie Halloran (MF, all-area, all-MSL), Katie Murauskis (F), Nikki Gary (F).
Top returning players: Seniors Kelsie Stone (GK, all-state, all-area, all-MSL, 0.91, 8.0 shutouts), Julie Szylke (MF, all-area, all-MSL), Julia Leonard (MF-D), Katie Kiolbassa (MF), Emilijia Peleckas (F), Missy Adrian (F-MF), Tara Bergles (F); junior Marta Cholewa (MF); sophomores Angie Zara (D-MF), Layla Dib (MF).
New faces to watch: Junior Anna Ballard (MF); sophomores Marissa Wade (D-MF), Morgan Perkins (D).
Outlook: The Vikings came close on two occasions against MSL champion Barrington last season, so the return of Julia Leonard and Katie Kiolbassa from club soccer boosts an already solid club which lost just two from the starting lineup. "The sky's the limit if we remain healthy and play to our potential," says coach Steve Keller. In addition to the D-I bound Leonard (Butler) and Kiolbassa (Morehead State), the Vikings have a wonderful collection of players who are versatile enough to play all over the place. That will be especially true early in the season, when Keller will shuffle his backline and midfield before eventually settling on assignments. With one of the best in the business between the sticks, Kelsie Stone, many a Fremd opponent will be frustrated this spring.
Hoffman EstatesCoach: Jeff Bird (2nd year, 8-10-0)
Last year: 8-10-0 (5-7-0).
Graduation losses: Jennie Nailor (D, all-state, two-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, playing at Northern Illinois University), Ena Sabanagic (MF, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, playing at Purdue University), Sharon Lopez (MF, playing at Elmhurst College), Michelle Montes de Oca (F, DePaul), Becca Salerno (D, University of Dayton), Francesca Van (GK, two-time all-MSL, University of Wisconsin).
Top returning players: Seniors Natalie Nagrant (F-MF), Anna Sall (MF); juniors Emma Lunak (D), Vanessa Alonso (D), Molly Salerno (MF); sophomores Payton Badziong (D), Kati Krogstad (MF), Kathy Lopez (MF).
New faces to watch: Senior Amber Colon (F); junior Crystal Adochio (GK), Jenna Berko (F); sophomores Alysa Dupart (F), Patrycia Plewa (F); freshmen Josephine Roberts (D), Gabrielle Anderson (D), Kelly Adusah (D), Callie Meese (MF), Ashley Poland (MF), Dalanie Slingerland (MF).
Outlook: Youth will gets its chance this season after the Hawks said goodbye to Jennie Nailor, would go on to play and start in every match at Northern Illinois University after ending her superb four-year career with all-state honors a year ago. "You obviously cannot replace Jennie, but we have a nice core of varsity veterans back, as well as as lot of young talent, with solid backgrounds in the game, who will hope all will rise to the challenge of playing at this level," says head coach, Jeff Bird, who must replace six starters, including the aforementioned Nailor, his all-sectional MF (Sabanagic) plus keeper (Van) who was capable of making acrobatic saves to keep her club in a match. "We're a young team with good chemistry, plus there's a nice mix of experience and youth that has me excited about the possibilities we have for the season."
PalatineCoach: Willie Filian (25th year, 276-170-49).
Last season: 10-8-4 (5-4-2).
Graduation losses: Cora Jacobsen (D, all-MSL, playing at Augustana), Allison Rzepka (D).
Top returning players: Seniors Mackenzie Filian (F- MF, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 7g, 8a), Samantha Malak (MF), Kendall Kane (F); juniors Sarah Clancy (MF, all-area, two-time all-MSL), Kacie Filian (MF-D, all-area, all-MSL, 13g), Anja Jacobsen (MF).
New faces to watch: Senior Carolyn Soukup (D).
Outlook: Another quality side from the MSL West figures to be a regular among the top 20 in the area from start to finish -- and perhaps even higher, should it find a way to generate a bit more offense. "We have a solid starting bunch, which should allow us to be in most games," said coach Willie Filian. "But we've had trouble scoring on a consistent basis in the past, and we continue to struggle in that area, which will hold us back when we really need it." The return of Carolyn Soukup from club will help improve a back line which lost an all-MSL player (Cora Jacobsen). Soukup figures to only enhance an outstanding unit in the midfield, let by the all-conference trio of Mackenzie and Kacie Filian and Sarah Clancy, who together will outwork and outpace their counterparts and ensure full effort from their own teammates.
SchaumburgCoach: Greg Charvat (25th year, 229-173-44).
Last year: 7-10-2 (5-4-2).
Graduation losses: Christina Kim (MF-F, playing soccer at Harper Junior College), Kayla Kowal (MF-F, all-MSL, playing soccer at Maryville University, MO), Julia Morales (D, playing soccer at Harper Junior College), Melissa Nava (D, all-area, all-sectional, all- MSL, DePaul University), Alexis Orozco (D, all-MSL, playing soccer at Harper Junior College), Briana Orozco (F).
Top returning players: Seniors Jackie Argueta (D), Melanie Diebold (MF), Katie Farb (MF), Danielle Krug (D), Gina D'Orazio (MF), Abbie Paolicchi (D), Emily Reedy (GK), Julia Treni (D), Cassidy Watson (MF); juniors Emma Aguilar (MF), Dana Kiszkowski (F); sophomores Michelle Candotti (MF), Lexi Ruscheinsky (D), Allison Schaar (F).
New faces to watch: Senior Morgan Norris (F); junior Lexi Espino (D); sophomore Olivia Masi (GK); freshmen Coree Benesch (F), Katie Smith (MF).
Outlook: Greg Charvat and his staff did a marvelous job keeping the Saxons afloat while his club went through difficult times at the onset last spring. "After getting off to a 1-7-0 start, we are looking to start stronger this season, and to be more competitive at the same time," said Charvat, whose went 6-3-2 the rest of the way to earn a mid-table finish in the MSL. Schaumburg lost three of its all-MSL players, and a total of six seniors from the 2016 club. So the Saxons will need to rebuild the back line, which returns just one player, central defender Abbie Paolicchi, and find a scorer or two as well after losing its top scorer, Kayla Kowal.
NORTHEASTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCEChristian Liberty AcademyCoach: Aaron DeRidder (4th year, 23-17-1).
Last year: 9-6-1 (4-1-0).
Graduation losses: Maddie Bennett (MF, four-time all-NAC, North Park College), Sam Amedin (F, playing soccer at Cornerstone University, MI.), Cassie Swiderik (playing volleyball at Wheaton College).
Top returning players: Seniors Valerie Karr (F), Emma DeRidder (D); junior Becky Davis (GK).
Outlook: DeRidder lost five seniors, including his four-year all everything star, Maddie Bennett, who went box-to-box as the heartbeat of the Chargers attack. "Maddie did it all for us, and with her loss, along with four other seniors, plus, Annie Bennett, who decided not to come back this spring, it appears that we're rebuilding this year," said the head coach, who, with just 13 on his roster, is thin in depth with the season opener nearing.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLDLeydenCoach: Rob Fowler (10th year, 79-92-11).
Last year: 10-11-2 (2-4-0).
Graduation losses: Michelle Andrade (MF, all-WSG), Gabby Castillo (MF, all-WSG), Yaneli Dorado (MF), Jocelyn Garcia (D), Elise Roa (MF), Katrina Sanchez (GK), Rosalia Trupiano (F, all-WSG).
Top returning players: Senior Nohely Sanchez (D); junior Karla Rubio (MF); sophomore Liliana Herrera (D).
New faces: Juniors Julia Kornatowska (D), Nicole Sedlacek (MF).
Outlook: The Eagles took a big-time graduation hit this off-season, losing seven starters, including right in the middle of the park where two of its three captains (Andrade and Castillo) moved on. "We have (13) seniors on our varsity roster, so we hope that group equals experience as the season goes on," says Fowler, who welcomed back just two starters from a year ago. "We expect to be competitive all throughout our schedule this season, but it will still take a while to sort things out."
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTHMaine WestCoach: Jeff Bishop (5th year, 30-43-5).
Last season: 8-10-1 (1-3-1).
Graduation losses: Rachel Kolling (MF, two-time all-CSL, playing at North Central College), Allie Webb (MF, all-CSL, Illinois State), Dorothy Calba (MF, Illinois), Carly Hart (D, DePaul), Julie Garcia (F, playing at Harper Junior College), Lupita Espino (MF, Oakton Community College), Bailey Room (D, Illinois State).
Top returning players: Seniors Julia Deac (MF), Ellie McCabe (D); sophomores Sarah Magnoni (D), Ally Brock (MF), Maddie Roppel (MF), Vanessa Reyes (D), Gabri Faraone (D).
New faces: Sophomore Jessie Felix (MF); freshmen Dylan Van Fleet (F).
Outlook: The loss of seven seniors from last year's club leaves a void in the experience department, admits Jeff Bishop. But the Warriors coach is hoping to cancel out those losses with the return of a fine core, albeit a young one, which now finds itself in the spotlight this year. "As you can see from the list of returning players, we're young, and a little bit inexperienced, but with that said, we'll be fundamentally strong, which should allow us to be relatively strong on both end of the field," says Bishop. The return of Felix, a sophomore, from club soccer will give the Warriors another dimension in their attack, and yet another player who will be around for the next three seasons.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCESt. ViatorCoach: Mike Taylor (8th year, 96-58-11).
Last year: 6-11-2 (3-3-1).
Graduation losses: Lauren Kohn (MF, two-time all-area, all-sectional, four-time all- ESCC, 27 career assists, Illinois), Maggie Leazer (D, two-time all-area, two-time all-ESCC, playing at Evansville University), Colleen Gallagher (GK, all-ESCC).
Top returning players: Seniors Mo McGrath (D), Sarah Shade (D); juniors Katherine Schade (MF), Maddie Fitzpatrick (D-MF), Mauve Schumaker (F); sophomores Payton McDonnell (MF), Megan Vicens (D).
New faces: Senior Felicia Moncada (D); juniors Anna Johnston (GK), Christina Petrillo (MF); sophomore Mary Ann Castilian (F).
Outlook: It has generally been good news for the Lions since Mike Taylor took over the program seven years ago, with a pair of state trophies sprinkled in, along with a handful of regional and sectional titles. Not last season, however. The Lions went 3-8-0 down the stretch, including a 1-0 regional final defeat to end a disappointing campaign. "We lost a lot of matches by one goal, but we (still) never really found ourselves, so our overall record on the season wasn't a total surprise," said Taylor. The departure of two all-area and four-year performers stings, but the return of three (Monacado, Johnston, Petrillo) from club soccer will offset the loss of Kohn and Leazer and could make the Lions a force in 2A this spring. "Most everyone on this roster has been with me for two years, so everyone here knows what we expect, and is willing to do what it takes to compete at a high level," said Taylor.