BarringtonTop returning players: Seniors Jackie West, Emily Schulze
Outlook: Coach Mark Markwell's program regularly figures into the upper half of the Mid-Suburban West, and expect the same this year. West scored 5 goals in Barrington's season-opening win against Buffalo Grove, and Schulze had 3 goals.
Buffalo GroveTop returning players: Anna Maria Apostolopoulou (Sr.), Diana Morosan (Jr.), Dasha Yermol (Sr.), Katie Wasilewski (Sr.).
Outlook: First-year coach Mike McPartlin like the way things are shaping up on the heels of a solid season last spring. "We had many players, both new and returning, participate in off-season programs to continue developing and building new skills," McPartlin said. "Our two selected captains, Diana Morosan and Dasha Yermol, are extremely excited for this season and the opportunities it brings to lead the team." Other seniors bringing back varsity experience are Apostolopoulou and Wasilewski, and McPartlin will also be couting on Cecelia Carlson and Maggie Wydra, back for a second year of varsity after playing in the off-season.
ConantTop returners: Nia Tsoulos (Sr., Set/Set D/Utility), Aly Wooley (Sr., 2m-def) Amy Rodriguez (Sr., set, utility), Olivia Olszewski (Jr., set/utility).
Promising contributors: Lauren Day (Sr., G), Sarah Erne (Jr., U), Gabi Konieczny (Jr. U), Sydney Arnold (Soph., U), Abigail Hanley (Soph., 2m-def., U).
Outlook: Coach Justin Bickus' team played for a sectional championship last spring and is keeping that level of play as goal. "We return a good amount of experience from the past two seasons, girls who have played in some big games and are competitors," said Bickus. "As a group, we look ready to play and improved, with nearly every varsity player playing for area club team NWC or other clubs over summer and winter. I'm expecting us to be competitive and still have our goals of playing in some championship games late in the season." The Cougars hope their blend of strong senior and talented underclassmen lead to a team playing its best ball in May.
Elk GroveTop returning players: Alyssa Bonilla, Abby Farmer, Gillian Guerra, Kaylee Hatfield, Melena Herrera
Outlook: Coach Jason Spjuth expects to have a special season, thanks to a strong core of returning players with multiple seasons of varsity experience. "This is by far the strongest team we have had in my four years at Elk Grove," said Spjuth, "and we all have very high expectations for the season. I look for key contributions from the returning players on varsity that committed to water polo and swimming in the off-season. I also expect big contributions from our newcomers to the varsity level that have a lot of potential to make an immediate impact."
FremdTop returning players: Lauren Streitmatter (Sr., utility), Meagan Helsdingen (jr., driver), MJ Poss (jr., driver)
Outlook: Coach Ray Roth has on balance a young team -- but also one he thinks can have an impact in the MSL West. Key to that opinion is a high rate of players taking advantage of newly created club opportunities, which figures to help on several levels. "With the team being so young again, it will be a season-long process to jell as a team," said Roth, "but the girls' attitude is very positive."
HerseyTop returning players: Seniors Katie Lindgren (attacker) and Madison Burkhalter (center)
Top new players: Freshman Annie Lindgren (attacker); juniors Lucy Bornhorst (Hole D), Emily Born (attacker/center), Claire Lutz (goalie).
Outlook: Coach Megan Brownley and her Huskies are looking forward to another great season. Hersey finished last year in second place in the MSL East and is hoping to make a run at the top spot this year. "We have a team goal to make it to state, with goals set along the way," Brownley said. "We have a strong core group that played in the off-season and they're ready to do whatever it takes."
Hoffman EstatesTop returning players: Abigail Fuscone (Jr., Utility), Benita Varanauskaite (Jr., Goalie), Hannah Ouimet (Sr., Center).
Outlook: Coach Chris Fetterman saw his program make some strides last season and now has an eye on continued forward progress with a few key returners from last season. "It's time to take the next step," he said. "Off-season club work, a commitment to getting bigger and stronger in the weight room, and key veterans returning will hopefully pay off down the stretch." Things got started nicely for the Hawks on Monday with a 6-5 double-OT victory against Libertyville in which Fuscone scored all of Hoffman Estates' goals.
Maine WestTop returning players: Nina Martin (Sr., Utility), Anastasiya Sahayda (Jr., Utility)
Outlook: Coach Drew Schneider's group had a breakthrough season last spring as Maine West earned the program's first Central Suburban North championship. Martin and Sahayda will provide some continuity from that group, but in general Schneider expect a retooling effort. He expects sophomores Meg Casiple and Nikki Niedzielski to share goalie duties, while juniors Sara Niedzielski, Cat Ayala, Gaby Kic, and Sandy Perez will get opportunities created by graduation losses. Freshmen Olivia Loewes and Aiyana Puente may provide a needed spark, seniors Corrine Bellot and Sabrina Larbi provide quality leadership -- and Schneider hopes his Warriors may get pleasant surprises from sophomores Jacky Miranda and Lindsy Brito.
PalatineTop returning players: Harper Appel (Sr.), Natalia Koval (Sr.), Kiki Herbst (Sr.), Allie Rywelski (Sr.), Claire Davis (Sr.), Aine Reaney (Sr.), Hannah Bellof (Soph.)
Promising newcomers: Ellis Nelson (Sr.), Chelsea Nicolas (Sr.), Nicki Wagner (Sr.), Maggie O'Brien (Fr.)
Outlook: Pirates coach Mitch Tucker is looking to build up a solid group of younger players -- with the help of senior leadership from returning starters Appel, Koval, and Herbst. Bellof and O'Brien lead a talented group of younger players that will be a force to be reckoned with as they learn and develop their skills.
ProspectOutlook: The Knights enjoyed a truly memorable season last year, winning the Mid-Suburban East title and eventually prevailing in the Hoffman Estates sectional to earn the program's first appearance in the Elite Eight. In addition to heavy graduation losses, including elite scorer Gracie Dix, the Knights will also have new coach, as Tori Shields follows Natalie Tucker.
Top returners: Maggie Goodwin (Jr., Utility), Kaeley Hickey (Sr., 2-meter), Dorothy Enabe (Sr., flat), Liyah Glaser (Sr., U)
Promising newcomers: Senior Natalie Burda, freshman Sammi France
Outlook: Coach Kelli Lussow has four players on the varsity who are brand new to the sport, so she expects it to be a building year for the program. The good news is that there are four seniors who do have ample experience, and Goodwin and Hickey have shown the ability to score. "The girls are dedicated to learning, playing together," said Lussow, "and becoming as competitive as possible." Lussow is also counting on juniors Rylan Bratek and Julia Skwerski to "bring their plethora of experiences to the game and help solidify a roster of hard-working, energetic, and dedicated student-athletes."
SchaumburgTop returning players: Ingrid Hay (Sr.), Magda Jasinska (Sr., Goalie), Kailey Cordova (Jr.), Lindsey Bach (Sr.).
Promising varsity newcomers: Lynda Steen (Soph.), Olivia Bugajny (Jr.), Veronica Campbell (Soph.), Sarah Narske (Jr.), and Kayle Huemann (Jr.).
Outlook: Coach Beth Donatucci says program is in a rebuilding phase, having graduated eight seniors, seven of whom played varsity last year. "With that said though, we have great leaders and veterans stepping up and filling in the shoes of those that graduated, including our captains: Ingrid Hay, Kailey Cordova and Lynda Steen," Donatucci said. "With a relatively young, new team, we look to continue growing and improving throughout the season, game to game, on both levels."
WheelingTop returning players: Morgan Engbretson (Sr., G), Holly Schroeder (Sr., 2m-def.), Meghan Hergert (Jr., utility)
Outlook: Coach Dan Bell steps in with the Wildcats and hopes to see his team, which is on balance very young, develop throughout the season. He says about two-thirds of the roster is either freshmen or sophomores, and most of them participated in swimming in the fall. "Lots of young talent," said Bell, "and we're looking to build that talent with the experience of our juniors and seniors."