Girls soccer: Scouting the postseason, Northwest
At Buffalo GroveAdvancement: Sectional champion advances to Fremd supersectional on Tuesday, May 28 to play the New Trier sectional champ.
Top 4 seeds: Stevenson (18-1-2), Libertyville (12-6-0), Fremd 11-4-3), Lake Zurich (10-9-1).
Outlook: When Stevenson defeated highly regarded Naperville North in group play at the Malnati's Classic in early April, it prompted head coach PepeJon Chavez to say his young club is growing up faster than he expected. Two days when the Patriots beat New Trier to win the Classic, it was clear the Patriots' rebuilding project is near completion. Since that championship day, the Patriots would reel off 10 straight victories to validate their No. 1 seed and set a course toward reaching the sectional final against perhaps No. 3 Fremd, which has been on an impressive run of its own. Until coach Steve Keller's club lost last Friday night to New Trier 3-0 in its season finale, the Vikings had been unbeaten in their last 10 games, while conceding just 7 goals in their last 17 games before the 3-0 loss. The No. 5 and 6 seeds, Hersey and Prospect, each experienced some rough times but not enough for the Huskies to reach the MSL Soccer Bowl, while the Knights were in the race with Hersey right up until the final day of the season. "Our 1-0 loss to Barrington in the Soccer Bowl gave us the confidence to play with anyone, so we hope to use the effort from that night as momentum heading into regionals," said Hersey head coach Mike Rusniak. The Huskies are poised to play No. 4 Lake Zurich in the Palatine regional final, while Prospect is on course to play a regional final at Fremd should it advance.
At New TrierAdvancement: Sectional champion advances to Fremd supersectional on Tuesday, May 28 to play the Buffalo Grove sectional champ.
Top 4 seeds: New Trier (17-2-5), Glenbrook South (16-3-2), Evanston (11-5-3), Maine South (13-4-3).
Outlook: Makayla Stadler (Glenbrook South, 25 goals) and Emma Weaver (New Trier, 24) are two of the very best players in the state and the two Villanova-bound stars headline a sectional which is top heavy with Central Suburban League teams. Perennial Catholic Athletic Conference and Chicago Public League powers Loyola and Lane (18-3-1) are the No. 5 and 6 seeds, just ahead of No. 7 Maine West (12-3-2, 3-0-2) which has enjoyed its best season in program history "In the past, we've never really been comfortable coming into the postseason knowing we'll be playing one of the many talented teams out of our conference, or someone like Lane or Loyola," said Warriors head coach Jeff Bishop. "This year, with the success we've had in conference, and out, the girls are playing with confidence in each other and themselves knowing they can compete with the better teams and it's been great watching that transformation." The Warriors are led by two-sport (basketball) star Dylan Van Fleet (16 goals) and their central defender Sarah Magnoni, who has been a part of a stingy defense in front of keeper Leslee Ordonez (0.88), who has registered 8.0 shutouts. The Warriors' regional opener at home will be a test against Payton College Prep (10-6-2) ahead of a final with No. 1 New Trier.
At Rockford GuilfordAdvancement: Sectional champion advances to Barrington supersectional on Tuesday, May 28 to play the Schaumburg sectional champ.
Top 4 seeds: Barrington (16-1-1), Cary-Grove (11-2-1), Jacobs (12-9-1), South Elgin (12-3-3).
Outlook: Barrington coach Ryan Stengren understands the success his program at Barrington has enjoyed provides plenty of incentive to the Fillies' opponents each and every time the defending Class 3A state champions come onto the soccer pitch. The 2019 postseason will be no different for the Fillies, who were sent far to the west, where they were anointed the top seed over Fox Valley Conference co-champ Cary-Grove, which would like nothing more to get a chance at Stengren's club which recently won its eighth consecutive Mid-Suburban League crown. "The girls realize every team we play brings its best game against them, but during training and in our meetings, I always see their focus second to none as well as their work rate along with the desire to get better each time we get together," says Stengren. "We take nothing for granted, we respect all of our opponents, and lately we've become a resilient bunch that has found a way to win the hard-fought close games. The club from Cary-Grove has an all-state candidate in sophomore Jenna Stayart, who leads the Trojans with 20 goals.
At SchaumburgAdvancement: Sectional champion advances to Barrington supersectional on Tuesday, May 28 to play the Rockford Guilford sectional champ.
Top 4 seeds: St. Charles North (15-1-2), St. Charles East (19-5-0), Conant (14-4-2) Batavia (15-4-3).
Outlook: This year's version of the IHSA's 'group of granite' belongs to the Schaumburg sectional. Four of the Top 10 teams in the Daily Herald Top 20 are here. "This is a ridiculously good sectional," said Conant coach Jason Franco. "In my opinion, the top six teams are all capable of having long runs into the playoffs, with (North) potentially playing for a state title. Right away for us we have Schaumburg, and that's a tough opener because they know us, we've beaten them in league play, they have a good keeper and they will come out and play us hard." This sectional also has some of the very best forwards there are, beginning with Franco's top player Stephanie Mazurek (25 goals), followed closely by SCE star, Elle McCaslin (23), Batavia's Anna Holcombe (11) and the dynamic trio of Sami Rydberg, Sarah Andrey and Cece Wahlberg, whose combined 29 goals and 12 assists do not show true value of how dangerous they are for St. Charles North. Franco suggests Nos. 5-7 -- Geneva, Wheaton-Warrenville South and Wheaton North -- are all capable of sending off any of the top four home, so its proceed with caution for his club from the very first contest in regional play.
At AntiochAdvancement: Sectional champion advances to Grayslake Central supersectional on Tuesday, May 28 to play the Hampshire sectional champ.
Top 4 seeds: Wauconda (13-2-2), Lake Forest (9-7-2), St. Viator (11-7-3), Deerfield (11-11-2).
Outlook: The final week of the regular season has nearly always seen St. Viator playing for a chance to lift the East Suburban Catholic trophy over its two closest rivals, Benet Academy and Carmel Catholic. However before having the opportunity to do so, upstart Joliet Catholic Academy would defeat the Lions, then it was the Redhawks doing the same, dashing the hopes of an 11th ESCC title. So, the focus now turns toward the postseason where last season the Lions made it all the way through, and into the 2A state final where St. Francis won the big trophy. After a season with several new faces, position changes and dealing with injuries, Lions center back Sam DeJulio is cautiously optimistic about the chances of her club. "We've had our share of things to deal with, but we cannot use it as an excuse anymore, but if we come out and play the way I know we're able to then we can have a long run in the playoffs," said DeJulio after the Lions' recent win over Marian Catholic. The Lions ended the season for No. 1 Wauconda last year in the sectional final.