Girls soccer: Scouting Northwest
NORTHEASTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCEChristian Liberty AcademyCoach: Morgan Elzinga (1st year).
Last year: 5-8-0 (2-5-0).
Graduation losses: Emma DeRidder (D), Valerie Karr (F).
Top returning players: Senior Becky Davis (GK), junior Signe Bennett (D).
New faces to watch: Freshmen Ava Bennett (MF), Natalie Tolpygo (MF), Veronique Tolpygo (F).
Outlook: Morgan Elzinga will give the Chargers' program a much different look as she arrives from Trinity International University, where she is an assistant coach for a Trojans program which fell just short of advancing into the DII national semifinals in 2017. "You can expect a more disciplined, intelligent and technical team this year, with a focus on defensive shape and organization, and finding players who will be disruptive up top," says Elzinga, who takes over for Jed Bennett, who last year assumed the dual role of coach and athletic director. Senior Becky Davis will give her new coach stability and veteran leadership between the sticks, which is key in the development of a young bunch which has impressed Elzinga during the early stages of training. "We're young, but very teachable, which I believe is our greatest strength, and as we continue to grow as a team,
we'll look to be competitve in every match."
WEST SUBURBAN GOLDLeydenCoach: John Scheimann (1st year).
Last year: 7-12-2 (2-4-0).
Graduation losses: Vanessa Gallegos (D, all-WSG), Ruth Merlos (GK, all-WSG), Nohely Suarez (MF, all-WSG), Tania Corona, Sasha Cordero, Melanie Lopez, Era Meco, Juane Mendez, Lourdes Moreno, Jenny Ortiz, Mayra Salinas, Syuzanna Zelizna.
Top returning players: Seniors Julia Kornatowska (D), Karla Rubio (MF), Nicole Sedlacek (MF); juniors Liliana Herrera (D). Catherine Saponieri (MF).
New faces to watch: Junior Kathy Sotelo (MF); sophomore Yesenia Diaz (F).
Outlook: After spending 11 years as an assistant in both the boys and girls programs at Leyden, John Schiemann was the easy choice to take over for Rob Fowler, who stepped down after 10 years at the helm. The Eagles' new head coach inherits a club which graduated a dozen players, most of whom were two-year varsity players, with its all-conference threesome of Vanessa Gallegos, Ruth Merlos and Nohely Suarez also three-year veterans. Despite the heavy losses, Schiemann says his back line will be a strength, which is important with Leyden opening with 8 games in its first 16 days, including four of the first seven at the Windy City Classic at Reavis High School.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTHMaine WestCoach: Jeff Bishop 6th year, 36-54-6).
Last year: 6-11-1 (1-4-0).
Graduation losses: Jenny Alcibar (Oakton Community College), Julia Deac (MF, Oakton Community College), Jenny Lopez (MF, Oakton Community College), Ellie McCabe (D)
Returning players: Senior Gabry Faraone (GK); juniors Jessie Felix (MF, all-CSL), Sarah Magnoni (D, all-CSL), Vanessa Reyes (F); sophomores Dylan Van Fleet (F)
New faces to watch: Sophomore Klara Sorensen (MF); freshmen Marissa Murillo (D).
Outlook: The Warriors' roster underwent a complete 180 a year ago, with Bishop introducing several new faces to varsity, most of whom played heavy minutes during an up and down season. "We graduated just four seniors, so with the majority of our players returning, it will be our experience and a nice chemistry which will be the strength of this team," Bishop said. The loss of its strong central-defender, Ellie McCabe, is a concern. But all-CSL junior Sarah Magnoni appears ready to step into the role left by the former Warriors captain.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLICSt. ViatorCoach: Mike Taylor (9th year, 106-60-19).
Last year: 10-2-8 (4-2-1).
Graduation losses: Maureen McGrath (D, three-time all-ESCC, two-time all-area, playing at Illinois Wesleyan), Sarah Shade (D).
Top returning players: Seniors Amelia Botcher (D), Maddie Fitzpatrick (D-MF), Anna Johnston (GK, all-area, all-sectional, all-ESCC, ESCC GK-of-the-Year, 22 career shutouts), Catlin Kenny (MF-F), Michaela Muller (F), Christina Petrillo (D-MF, all-ESCC), Maeva Schumacher (MF-F), Katherine Shade (MF), Megan Vicens (D-MF); juniors Payton McDonnell (MF, all-ESCC); Mary Anne Castill (F-MF), Natalie Krause (D-MF).
New faces to watch: Seniors Samantha DeJulio (D, transfer from Palatine), Brinley McVeigh (MF, return from club).
Outlook: Just a quick glance at a Lions recent tweet says it all: We're ready to play from day No. 1 with the aim of playing on the last day of the season. "The girls are excited and ready to go," said coach Mike Taylor, who's led early morning training sessions while watching the team grow closer with movie, dinner and bowling nights, all in advance of what he believes can be a long run 2A state tournament run. "They all believe they can get to the final four, but they know there's a lot of work ahead of them," Taylor said. The arrival of two key players will help the cause: Brinley McVeigh is back after two years in club. And Samantha DeJulio transfered from Palatine, giving the Lions' 3-5-2 formation just what it needs in front of Anna Johnston, one of the top keepers in the area. The partnership of McVeigh and McDonnell in the center of the park should inspire the attack.
MSL EASTBuffalo GroveCoach: Pat Dudle (11th year, 119-82-24)
Last year: 6-7-4 (6-4-1), MSL East champs.
Graduation losses: Danielle Allaire (D, all-MSL, Miami of Ohio), Gina Bolis (MF-D), Hannah Cole (F), Brittany Lee (MF, all-area, two-time all-MSL, playing at Carthage), Courtney Lee (D, playing at Carthage College), Georgette Topalis (MF-F, two-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, MSL East POY, playing at Winona State).
Key returing players: Seniors Katie Derengowski (F), Alyssa Floro (F, all-MSL), KK Hanner (F), Martina Macaggi (MF), Kara Tyner (MF); juniors Zugey Olvera (GK), Clare Reynolds (MF), Zoe Robertson (MF), Aaliyah Rocha (MF), Christina Ruterschmidt (D), Tess Vasilakos (F); sophomores Macy Floro (F), Kendra Lee (D, all-MSL).
New faces to watch: Senior Jackie Malloy (GK); junior Zoey Vasilakos (D); sophomore Kaya Weede (MF); freshmen Pamela Bolis (F), Savannah Larsen (D), Quinlan Libit (MF), Leah Limber (MF), Bridget Reynolds (D).
Outlook: The Bison rarely played the part of an attacking powerhouse the past two years, but with a high work rate, boundless energy, purpose, urgency and the two-time MSL East POY on the roster, they managed to lift consecutive division trophies despite a sub-.500 overall record. "We lost some terrific leadership from last years graduating class, including Georgette (Topalis), the two-time MSL East player-of-the-year. So hopefully some of that toughness will reverberate within this years club to help us reach our goal of winning another division title," says coach Pat Dudle. The Bison defended with all of their might during a decisive six-game win streak down the stretch a year ago. Two key figures from that surge, Danielle Allaire and Courtney Lee, have graduated. However, Dudle does have Kendra Lee and Zoe Robertson back in the fold. The Bison have a nice group of new players in the mix, along with several who featured prominently throughout last spring, including second-leading scorer Alyssa Floro.
Elk GroveCoach: Dean Burrier Sanchis (1st year).
Last year: 4-13-0 (2-9-0), lost to Evanston (4-0) in regional final.
Graduation losses: None
Key returning players: Seniors Leila Aguilar (MF), Zoe Blomquist (F), Amanda Sitkowski (F, all-MSL), Emma Simmons (D), Emma Slattery (D, two-time all-MSL); sophomore Katie Talens (F-MF).
New faces to watch: Freshmen Alexa Joshi (D).
Outlook: After serving his apprenticeship as an assistant for the Grens boys program during the past three seasons, Dean Burrier Sanchis takes over for long-time head coach Dan Klaus, who was the dean of MSL East coaches. "It's exciting to have a defending state champion (Barrington) in our conference, and to be able to compete against some of the very best coaches around, who run highly regarded programs," said Burrier Sanchis. The new man in charge will have a solid core of returning veteran players, six of whom are seniors. "We believe in our seniors, and all of the girls are working hard to make this the best year of their careers at Elk Grove. They deserve nothing less."
Coach: Darren Llewellyn (5th year, 42-33-10).
Last year: 4-9-4 (4-5-3).
Graduation losses: Allison Busby (MF), Olivia Basis (MF), Andrea Canon (GK), Claire Callahan (F, all-MSL, Villanova), Grace Kozurek (F, all-MSL), Erin Redding (MF), Erin Smetana (D, all-sectional, all-MSL).
Key returning players: Seniors Heidi Freitag (MF), Emma Watson (D); junior Laura Burckardt (MF); sophomores Jenna Hill (D), Gabby Kozurek (MF-F), Chloe Sena (F),
Outlook: The Huskies program had been a model of consistency during the first three years Darren Llewellyn took charge, before slipping below .500 the last two seasons when the core of his title-contending clubs moved on to college. "We were very young last year, but even younger this season, with five freshmen and sophomores filling a 16-player roster," says Llewellyn. The trio of Burckardt, Hill and Wilson were in the Huskies starting lineup from the very beginning of last season, and will be leaned on heavily by Llewellyn from opening day forward.
ProspectCoach: Tom Froats (16th year, 162-124-39).
Last year: 8-10-2 (5-5-1), lost to New Trier (6-2) in regional final.
Graduation losses: Grace Bauer (MF, Harper College), Kendra Gancarz (MF, Ball State), Caroline Hajek (MF, Iowa), Grace Johannesen (D, all-MSL, Notre Dame), Aly Kobler (F, two-time all-MSL, playing at Loyola Chicago), Amy Novak (MF, Pittsburgh), Meredith Nyborg (GK, Ohio State), Grace Taldone (D, St. Louis).
Key returning players: Seniors Faith Fitzsimmons (MF), Natalie Marfilius (D, all-MSL), Sarah Mulvihill (F), Gianna Rossi (GK), Shawna Stokes (MF, two-time all-MSL, 2016 all-area); juniors Madalyn Ladd (D), Ella Marzolf (F, all-sectional, all-MSL), Kristin Scheider (MF), Helen Slavelis (D), Tina Suto (D), Ashley Welk (F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL).
New faces to watch: Seniors Natalie Niodowski (MF), Kelly Moran (D); juniors Ashley Adams (F), Katelyn Branch (MF), Abbey Danciu (F), Emma Gries (MF), Talor Kosla (MF), Lauryn Schneider (MF), Alexa Mitka (D); sophomores Ashley Behles (MF), Ashley Erickson (D), Isabella Hubrich (F-GK).
Outlook: The story of the past couple of seasons has been one of consistent disappointment as the Knights appeared to have positioned themselves to win a division title, only to fall short when its attack went missing in its final phase of the regular season. This year, however, several seniors who have been around to watch rival Buffalo Grove lift the MSL East trophy twice would like nothing more to end the Bison's run in their final year with coach Tom Froats. "We have a fantastic senior class leading the way, plus plenty of depth and experience," begins Froats. "But most of all, there's terrific competition at every position which should serve us well going forward as we look to take advantage of these team strengths." Few will have a more dynamic quartet of attacking players as Fitzsimmons, Marzolf, Stokes and Welk are quite capable of unsettling the best of backlines.
Rolling MeadowsCoach: Mike Drenth (6th year, 36-65-12).
Last year: 6-9-1 (4-6-1).
Graduation losses: Laura Dacy (MF), Claire Donlon (D, Marquette), Mary Donlon D), Illinois), Taylor Gunn (F, Harper Community College), Meghan Kelly (MF, Iowa State, Jenna Manos (D), Kelsey Nallon (GK, Illinois), Katherine Perille (MF-F, two-time all-MSL, Dayton), Teresa Perille (MF, Western Michigan), Claire Preissing (MF-D, all-MSL, Michigan), Madeline Rebsamen (MF, Kentucky), Kyra Spiwak (MF, playing basketball at Providence), Hannah Ungurean (D, Iowa).
Key returning players: Seniors Natalie Anderson (F), Sara Sheridan (MF), Melissa Spiwak (F); juniors Alexa Davis (MF), Kylie Konar (D), Kate Mallek (D).
New faces to watch: Senior Allie Ontaneda (D); juniors Kristin Dillon (MF), Meghan O'Grady (MF), Grace Preissing (MF), Nina Sanchez (MF); sophomore Sophia Salemi (MF).
Outlook: The Mustangs' roster does a complete about-face from a year ago, with 13 players moving on, including all-everything four-year standouts Kat Perille and Claire Preissing among those graduated seniors. "We have very little depth after losing so many players," said coach Mike Drenth. "Sheridan, Anderson and Davis played significant minutes for us last year, and Sophia Salemi is a real solid player, so our attack should be decent, but we'll likely struggle in our own end until we sort some things out."
WheelingCoach: Dwayne Cruz (5th year)
Last year: 0-18-0 (0-11-0).
Graduation losses: Emma Fister (D, two-time all-MSL), Guadalupe Bucio (MF), Yadira Escubedo (MF), Carolyn Webber (MF).
Key returning players: Seniors Lupe Bucio (MF), Carrie Webber (DMF); junior Magaly Barrera (D); sophomores Ally Ferraro (MF), Emily Reyes (F), Jasmine Yusef (F).
Outlook: Wheeling suffered through a winless season a year ago, and while coach Dwayne Cruz doesn't predict a boat-load of victories this spring, the head coach thinks the outlook is considerably brighter for his Wildcats. "We're still really young, but the girls bring a ton of energy to training each day," said Cruz, who will also be in his 19th year as head coach at Harper College next fall. "This team has speed, they're fit and they really believe they can surprise some teams this year." Cruz will lean on senior Carrie Webber, who led her club team to a championship during the off-season and will either be his defensive midfielder or center-back.
MSL WESTBarringtonCoach: Ryan Stengren (202-41-17).
Last year: 28-1-0 (11-0-0), MSL champs, 3A state champions.
Graduation losses: Jackie Batliner (D, two-time all-state, two-time Daily Herald All-Area captain, three-time all-area, two-time MSL West POY, playing at DePaul), Sydney Bowling (MF, Utah), Anna Brodjian (F-MF, all-area, two-time all-MSL, playing at North Central College), Kayla Keck (D, two-time all-area, all-MSL, SMU), Annika Lutz (GK), Allie Quinn (GK, SMU), Maesyn Poidomani (F, Purdue), Sophia Spinnell (MF, two-time all-state, Daily Herald All-Area co-captain, two-time all-area, all-MSL, playing at Miami of Ohio), Ellie Stodola (F, Indiana), Haley Tausend (D, two-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, playing at Eastern Illinois)
Key returning players: Seniors Michayla Herr (MF), Samantha Schmitz (GK), Lauren Caffe (MF), juniors Christine Batliner (F), Ashley Prell (F, all-area, all-MSL), Ashlley Rocco (F), Maddie Rosen (D); sophomores Julianna Moreno (D), Christina Teik (MF), Chloe Trom (D)
New faces to watch: Senior Paige Stevens; sophomores Alexis Armando, Ashley Armando, Marissa Faulkner, Elinor McAuley, Rebecca Shomaker, Natalie Urso; freshmen Jennifer Devona, Costandena Liapis, Katherine McGreevy.
Outlook: One could argue that Barrington has been the best team from the MSL in the last decade, and after its sixth straight MSL title in a remarkable record-setting season which ended in thrilling fashion, it's clear the 2017 club deserves serious consideration for such an honor. Barrington was our state champion last season and a reminder that dreams do come true. The Fillies gave the MSL its first state crown since 1995. "It's still as if it all happened yesterday -- it was an incredible season because of an amazing group of players, many of which were on our third-place state team in 2015 who decided then that each would do whatever was needed to get back to the state tournament and win it all," says coach Ryan Stengren, who was later named Illinois Coach of the Year. For this year, Stengren lost nearly all of his starters, plus a couple of key reserves to graduation. But he will lean on three of the best in the state at their respective positions -- Harvard bound Samantha Schmitz (GK), Michayla Herr (MF) and junior forward Ashley Press, who came on strong down the stretch. "We open up against three of the top teams in the state with Naperville North (a 2-2 draw), Neuqua Valley then St. Charles North, so we'll learn a lot about what and who we are, then go to work after that."
ConantCoach: Jason Franco (13th year, 164-74-23).
Last year: 12-6-1 (8-3-0), lost to St. Charles East (1-0) in regional final.
Graduation losses: Emily Mazurek (F-MF, three-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL), Katie Celarek (D, all-MSL, playing at Loras College), Christy Dizonno (D), Kaylin Feeley (MF-F, all-MSL, injury), Brittany Laskero (MF).
Key returning players: Seniors Taylor Cyr (GK, all-MSL), Bella Grebenor (D), Miranda Glennon (MF), Morgan Ragusin (MF); juniors Stephanie Mazurek (F0, two-time all-sectional, all-area, all-MSL), Jessica Smeltzer (F); sophomores Delaney Hoye (D), Neida Ocampo (F), Julianna Madonia (MF).
New faces to watch: Senior Valerie Moreno (F); junior Maddie Kuffel (D).
Outlook: Always expected to be among one of the best clubs in the league, this season should be no different. Yet a key challenge for coach Jason Franco is to find a way to replace the third-leading goal-scorer in program history in Emily Mazurek, who bagged 46 goals while adding 32 assists in four years. "We return a strong core, with experience in the middle with Miranda Glennon and Morgan Ragusin, and Stephanie Mazurek (16 goals), Jessica Smeltzer and Neida Ocampa can be a dynamic trio up top for us," says Franco. The loss of Kaylin Feeley to a season-ending injury will hurt, but with back-to-back double digit shutouts to her credit, Taylor Cyr is an underrated goal-stopping keeper.
FremdCoach: Steve Keller (18th year, 243-115-35).
Last year: 15-5-1, 9-2-0), lost to Libertyville (2-0) in regional final.
Graduation losses: Missy Adrian (F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, playing basketball at Bradley), Tara Bergles (F, Ferris State), Jennifer Josten (D, Missouri), Katie Kiolbassa (MF, playing at Morehead State), Julia Leonard (MF, all-state, all-area, two-time all-MSL, 17g, playing at Butler), McKenna Miller (MF, Iowa), Emilijia Peleckas (F, Illinois), Kelsie Stone (GK, all-state, two-time all-area, all-MSL, 39 career shutouts, playing at Drake), Julia Szylke (D, two-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, playing at Harper College).
Top returning players: Seniors Marta Cholewa (D, all-area, all-MSL), Anna Billard (F); junior Layla Dib (MF); sophomore Lauren Burk (D).
New faces to watch: Juniors Kennedy Gossell (F), Kayla Tanner (MF), Juliana Temple (F); sophomores Emma Katovich (MF), Madeline McCarthy (D), Jennifer Norris (GK), Maya Poyraz (MF), Claire Stewart (F), Mackenzie Stein (F), Ann Veenbass (MF); freshmen Eisha Peyyeti (MF), Ashley Scesniak (MF), Caeleigh Stone (F).
Outlook: The Vikings had the pieces in place to put together a long state tournament run last season, with an air-tight defense, one of the best keepers in the state, top-flight veteran talent, plus sharp tactical wherewithall. All of that was negated when three of Fremd's top players suffered season-ending injuries, all but ending The Vikes' chances for postseason success. The one silver lining to these unfortunate circumstances were the five freshmen called to fill the void of their fallen teammates, which resulted in all seeing significant time and getting a taste of what the speed of play is like at the next level. "We're young, with little experience, but we have great kids who are both eager to learn and competitive at the same time, so there's potential with this group," says coach Steve Keller. One of the youngest sides in recent memory for Keller still has quality, including a premier defender in senior Marta Cholewa, who paired alongside Lauren Burk will give new keeper Jennifer Norris the chance to shine as a first-time starter.
Hofffman EstatesCoach: Jeff Bird (3rd year, 11-26-0).
Last year: 3-16-0 (1-10-0).
Graduation losses: Natalie Nagrant (F-MF, all-MSL, Illinois State), Anna Sall (MF, Illinois State).
Top returning players: Seniors Molly Salerno (MF), Vanessa Alonso (D), Emma Lunak (D), Vanessa Bonilla (MF); junior Kathy Lopez (F); sophomore Josie Roberts (D).
New faces to watch: Junior Kati Krogstad (MF); freshmen Avery Panek (F), Christina Salerno (D-MF)
Outlook: The Hawks were unable to meet preseason expectations of coach Jeff Bird last spring, but to be fair, much of that had to do with several first-time varsity players. "We will be a more competitive team in 2018 because our still-young squad has a full year of experience under its belt, plus we have a much better complementary group of players who work together very well," says Bird. "Overall, we're so much more technically sound, and we can now mix quick counters with our possession, which in turn, should lead to improved finishing." Bird will lean on 2017 scoring leader Molly Salerno and Vanessa Alonso to keep things tight along the back, while the return of Vanessa Bonilla (track) and Kati Krogstad (ankle) will automatically improve the overall look of the Hawks.
PalatineCoach: Willie Filian (26th year, 286-178-52).
Last year: 10-8-3 (9-2-0).
Graduation losses: Mackenzie Filian (F-MF, four-year starter, two-time all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, Iowa), Lauren Ellis (D), Francesca Falato (GK, Illinois), Marissa Glaviano (F), Mary Kate Healy (F, playing at Carthage College), Kendall Kane (F, Illinois), Samantha Malak (MF, playing at Coastal Carolina), Alexis Ortega Saa (F), Carolyn Soukup (MF-D, all-area, all-sectional, two-time all-MSL, playing at UW-Parkside).
Top returning players: Seniors Sarah Clancy (MF, two-time all-area, all-sectional, three-time all-MSL), Izzy Esquivel (MF), Kacie Filian (MF-D, two-time all-area, all-MSL, all-sectional), Anja Jacobsen (D, all-MSL), Sara Jasonowicz (MF), Alexandra Lloyd (MF), Giana Valero (F); sophomores Brianna Curylo (F), Shelby Donofrio (D), Melanie Simon (D).
New faces to watch: Juniors Serena Escalona (MF-F, back from club), Amaya Rivera (GK, back from club).
Outlook: The Pirates rarely finish outside of the top four in the standings, and last year was no different when coach Willie Filian's club stayed in the division race right up until the end before eventual MSL and state champion Barrington took control. Few can match the work rate, pace and desire of four-year starters Sarah Clancy and Kacie Filian. With Filian on the injured list and progressing from her recent ACL surgery, it means Clancy will carry even more of the load from her midfield spot. "Our back line and keeper depth are the biggest strengths of this team, but we have to do better going forward with our attack, which last season was our downfall," says Filian, who will take aim at improving upon a 1-6-2 nonconference record and just 32 goals scored in 21 games.
SchaumburgCoach: Greg Charvat (26th year, 235-184-45).
Last year: 6-11-1 (5-6-0).
Graduation losses: Jackie Argueta (D), Melanie Diebold (MF), Gina D'Orazio (MF, all-area, all-MSL, Ball State), Katie Farb (MF, playing at Benedictine), Danielle Krug (D), Morgan Norris (F, Judson), Abbie Paolicchi (D, all-MSL, playing at Barton College, NC), Emily Reedy (GK), Julia Treni (D), Cassidy Watson (MF).
Key returning players: Seniors Emma Aguilar (F), Dana Kizkowski (F); juniors Michelle Candotti (MF), Bri Dietz (MF), Livvy Masi (GK), Lexi Ruscheinsky (D), Al Schaar (MF, all-MSL); sophomores Coree Benesch (F), Katie Smith (MF), Victoria Treni (D).
New faces to watch: Seniors Deonna Christenson-Campos (MF), Maddie Schneider (D); juniors Savannah Morini (D), Jamie Stephens (D); sophomore Sahar Dhanji (D); Payton Litney (GK), Melissa Schneider (MF) Kaitlyn Uhlman (D).
Outlook: Coach Greg Charvat had his oldest age group in the last decade with 10 seniors, seven of whom were starters, last spring. "We're obviously a very young club with seven freshmen and sophomores, in addition to having nine players with no previous varsity experience," says Charvat, "so the focus during the early stages of the season will be to determine the best fit for each player, while developing a system of play that best highlights the strength of our team." The Saxons look to have potentially a dangerous strike force in Aguilar, Kizkowski and Schaar. They were Schaumburg's top three goal-scorers from a year ago and combined for 19 goals and 11 assists, with Schaar leading the way with 7.
-- Mike Garofola