Scouting Fox Valley girls lacrosse
Top teams: Geneva, Huntley, St. Charles Co-op, D300 Co-op, U46 Co-op (JV).
Top returning players: Kaz Black, Huntley, sr., G; Brooke Borchart, Huntley, jr., A; Grace Sowers, Geneva, soph., MF; Alyssa Davidson, Geneva, sr., MF; Maddie Wiltrout, St. Charles Co-op, sr., MF; Morgan Curzon, St. Charles Co-op, sr., D), Kara Brill, D300 Co-op, sr., A-MF; Jade Swanson, D300 Co-op, sr., D; Rachel Hovius, U46 Co-op, jr.
Scouting report: Girls lacrosse is gaining traction in the Fox Valley region, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Huntley, where coach Tony Nigro saw 77 girls try out program-wide after a 1-10 campaign a year ago. "They are getting on board and seeing the competitiveness of it and the opportunities," Nigro said. Huntley will be led by senior goalie Kaz Black, who was the backup netminder halfway through last season and then got elevated to the starting role, where she had a 66 percent save percentage and 234 saves. Sophomore attack Bella Wiechec is very athletic, while junior attack Brooke Borchart will be impactful on offense. Junior attackers Olivia Wombacher and Taylor Wentz combined for 80 percent of assists at the JV level. Schedule-wise, it's no cakewalk with Conant, Fremd, Schaumburg, Barrington and Palatine on an independent slate. "Looking at our schedule, we should compete in each game," Nigro said.
Numbers aren't a problem at Geneva, either. Two years after its inaugural season, more than 50 girls came to tryouts, coach Kailey Robbins said, and "because of the interest, we can roster a very competitive and selective varsity team to compete for our first year as a varsity program." The flip side is the program's youth, with a lot of freshmen and sophomores and only two seniors. One of those seniors is midfielder Alyssa Davidson, who will be relied upon for scoring, along with junior midfielder Julia Rein and sophomore midfielder Grace Sowers. The one newcomer everyone should be talking about by the end of the 2019 season is sophomore goalie Taylor Berg. "In seasons past, our focus has been on the development of the girls lacrosse program as a whole," Robbins said. "It's now our third season and our focus remains the same as in years past. With an added varsity team this year, we're looking forward to the opportunity to grow the game."
The St. Charles Co-op program had a banner 2018, going 15-3 and winning its sectional. It will try to equal that performance with a pair of St. Ambrose commits -- senior midfielder Maddie Wiltrout and senior defender Morgan Curzon. Wiltrout was an all-state honorable mention last year along with senior midfielder Lexi Kiefer, who also returns. Senior midfielder Makayla Thomas was first-team all-state in 2018 and is back as well. In fact, 10 seasoned varsity players, with playoff experience, are back and will be led by the co-head coaching tandem of Ronni Kluener and Jordyn McFarlane, with longtime Lyons coach Jim Moy as an assistant. The outlook for 2019 is "overwhelmingly positive," McFarlane said. "We are looking forward to earning our spot as a top team in the state. We plan to be in the playoff conversation once again this year."
Players from Hampshire, Dundee-Crown and Jacobs make up the D300 Co-op team, which begins as an officially district- and IHSA-sanctioned program. "We're very excited," said Nadia Duarte, an assistant coach this year, who was head coach the past two when it was a club sport. "We're looking forward to starting new traditions. It's definitely going to be a year of learning." Senior attack Kara Brill will lead the offense for D300, while senior Jade Swanson will be the anchor of the defense, Duarte said. Junior midfielder Kait Buterbaugh is technically a junior but will be graduating in the spring, so this will be her final season of high school lacrosse. She'll get help in the midfield from youngsters Sophie Slaten, a freshman, and sophomore Gabby Bianchi. D300 will play an independent schedule this season and it's challenging, featuring Huntley, Geneva and the St. Charles Co-op.
A brand-new program is always fun, because of the possibilities the future holds. That's the case with the U46 Co-op team, which consists of players from Bartlett, South Elgin, Elgin, Larkin and Streamwood. That crew, which will wear navy blue and yellow uniforms, will be headed by Natalie Homan. The team will play a JV schedule in 2019, but Homan said, "looking in the future, there would be teams at all five schools." There's talent at U46 as well. Start with South Elgin freshmen Skylar Jollette and Delaney Hanson, who each play travel ball. Another South Elgin freshman, Lauren Frontier, played boys lacrosse when she was younger. Bartlett juniors Rachel Hovious and Sophie Praxmarer petitioned for the sport two years ago. Kayla Emmett, a sophomore from Bartlett, should also make an impact for a team that will play locals Geneva, Huntley and Hampshire, along Stevenson and Homan's alma mater, Carl Sandburg.