Girls soccer: Scouting Fox
The DuKane is one tough conference for girls soccer.
St. Charles North (22-6-0), St. Charles North (19-2-1), Batavia (17-5-2) and Geneva (11-6-2) make up half of the conference and they averaged 17.3 wins. They only had 19 losses combined and 9 came head-to-head.
Expect more of the same this spring.
The Bulldogs have a great mix of experience and talent with 14 returnees, including seniors Hailey Flannagan, Grace Salyers, Katie Schoendfelder, Bella Zink and Abby Zipse. The Vikings graduated their starting offense but return 16 players and boast a roster that includes 12 seniors, including a half dozen who have committed to play in college.
The Saints are deep and have a style of play and pace that's extremely difficult to match. Elle McCaslin (29 goals, 15 assists) is electrifying. Alondra Carranza can do it all. Hannah Miller (23 goals, 14 assists) won the conference's Golden Boot. Jessica Stepien was St. Charles East's defensive player of the year. They welcome a nice mix of talent too, including transfers McKenna and Kaitlin Gahagan.
The North Stars only allowed 16 goals in 23 games. Sarah Andrey and Sami Rydberg combined to score 27. Again, the North Stars are one of the top teams in the area and with a core of returnees who understand their system and work well together, that should continue.
In the Upstate Eight, Bartlett (7-12-2) is energetic and young, but getting a large group acclimated to varsity competition will be challenging. Tessa Evans, Maddie Donnelly and Serena Salvato (7 goals, 2 assist) return.
Elgin (14-10-1) is young so the Maroons will be rebuilding in many ways. Sophomore Evelyn Sanchez (5 goals, 9 assists), senior Margie Troyke and sophomore Sarah Erickson return while Ruby Lopez and Jasmin Perez are new.
Larkin (14-7-2) only graduated one player while Kelly Leon (26 goals, 14 assists), Arianna King (13 goals, 6 assists) and defender Amy Leon return. The Royals are deep.
South Elgin (14-4-3) will try to defend its conference title, but is replacing five starters and two role players. Senior Megan McClure returns in goal while Katrina Barthelt (33 goals as a freshman last year) is a major threat.
Streamwood's (5-15-1) strength is its defense with Alex Meza, Lesley Jimenez and Esther Cardenes in front of keeper Candy Nava, but the Sabres are young and searching for success.
Burlington Central (14-5-1) joins the Fox Valley Conference. The Rockets will be young in back, but have offensive firepower with Zoey Kollhoff, Maddie Menke and Kirsten Wyse with 121 goals and 60 assists between them.
Cary-Grove (14-3-1) probably can't replace Katie Glowinski, Maddie Jannusch and especially Jenna Stayart (28 goals last year), but should remain competitive. Juniors Lauren Passaglia and Sydney Shmidt return in net, while Katie Jannusch looks to follow in her sister's footsteps and Jordan Dale returns in the midfield.
Crystal Lake South (6-13-1) will look to turn things around under first-year coach Kyle McCaughn. Seniors Jordan Bigos, Julia Martin, Lilli Sisler, junior Emma Chudik and sophomore Megan Langdon will lead the Gators.
Dundee-Crown (9-9-1) is young and has first-year coach Payton Berg. It certainly helps having Katelyn Skibinski (51 career goals) back.
Hampshire had only one victory in 2019, but has Veronica Walker (19 goals, 11 assists) and Lara Dulaca to put the ball in the net as part of a large group of seniors.
Huntley (10-9-2) returns 9 seniors who have played club for about their entire career. Chemistry is a huge asset for the Red Raiders behind midfielder Emma Vasconez, defender Madelynn Hill and others.
Jacobs (12-10-1) will be a bit younger this year, but that energy should hopefully prove beneficial. Freshman Delaney Roimiser is a promising addition while upperclassmen Emma Miller and Dominique Anderson are among the team's returnees.
Kaneland (10-10-1) has solid experience in the Interstate Eight. Senior Sarah Baerenklau, juniors Taylor Carlson, Emma Hedlund and Rachel Franck and sophomore Katie Kurz return.
West Aurora (12-7-1) has 14 players back in action, including Audrey Stephens (17 goals, 9 assists) and Gracie Prather (4 goals, 9 assists). A couple of freshmen will play crucial roles on the back line as the Blackhawks try to reign supreme in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
Among the area's smaller schools, only Westminster Christian (12-1-1) and Aurora Central Catholic (7-6-2) had winning seasons. The Chargers drop to 1A and look good with Alex Orozco (18 goals), Alexia Jones (11 assists), Amy Flores (injured) returning, and freshman KK Nash joining the squad. The Warriors return two of their top scorers in Kylee Siers (13 goals, 8 assists) and McKenna Oesterle (14 goals, 7 assists) and should be solid in back.
Tim Brieger begins his 25th season at St. Edward (6-11) while Elgin Academy and Rosary have new coaches and Harvest Christian Academy begins year two under Pedro Figueiredo.
The Green Wave returns 7 starters, including Rachel Martini (46 career goals) from a regional title team. Maddie Ellsworth and Mia Castro will be huge in the midfield.
Coach Amy McMahon said the Royals will be young but have potential.
Veronica Clements played at Elgin Academy and now is coaching. Goalie Nia Pegues and defender Madison Noble-Stas return for their senior seasons.
Harvest Christian Academy (6-4-1) has some key contributors back including midfielders Ryann Indiha and Eva Serrato.
Fox Valley girls soccer at a glance
Top teams: Batavia, Burlington Central, Huntley, Larkin, St. Charles East, St. Charles North, South Elgin, West Aurora
Top returning players: Dominique Anderson (Jacobs, sr., F), Sarah Andrey (St. Charles North, sr., F), Sarah Baerenklau (Kaneland, sr., D/F), Katrina Barthelt (South Elgin, so., F), Taylor Carlson (Kaneland, jr., F), Alondra Carranza (St. Charles East, sr., MF), Makenna Collins (St. Charles North, jr., D), Hailey Flannagan (Batavia, sr., GK), Zoey Kollhoff (Burlington Central, sr., MF), Amy Leon (Larkin, sr., D), Kelly Leon (Larkin, jr., F), Rachel Martini (St. Edward, sr., F), Elle McCaslin (St. Charles East, sr., F), Megan McClure (South Elgin, sr., GK), Hannah Miller (St. Charles East, jr., F), Katie Montgomery (Geneva, sr., GK), Alex Orozco (Aurora Central, jr., MF), Gracie Prather (West Aurora, sr., MF), Sami Rydberg (St. Charles North, sr., MF), Grace Salyers (Batavia, sr., F), Kylee Siers (Westminster Christian, sr., MF/F), Katelyn Skibinski (Dundee Crown, sr., MF), Audrey Stephens (West Aurora, sr., F), Margie Troyke (Elgin, sr., MF), Emma Vasconez (Huntley, sr., MF), Veronica Walker (Hampshire, sr., MF/D), Abby Zipse (Batavia, sr., MF)
Season skinny: St. Charles North has been the crème de la crème among girls soccer teams in the area for a while now. Not only have the North Stars never suffered through a losing season, but victories have piled up, having won 189 games alone in the past 10 years. But as successful as they've been, they've lost some tough games in the playoffs and haven't advanced to state since 2012. The North Stars should be very good once again, but they did lose the bulk of their scoring. "St. Charles North has a strong tradition of quality soccer," North Stars coach Brian Harks said. "This year's group of girls is no different." Batavia, Cary-Grove, South Elgin and St. Charles East also won regional titles a season ago. The Bulldogs and Saints should be tough with their respective rosters peppered with players who are coming off strong seasons. Opponents should fully know that Katrina Barthelt is a tremendous scorer so her sophomore season at South Elgin should be fascinating to watch. After having Elle McCaslin (Mississippi State) transfer in last season, the Saints welcome a pair of sisters transferring in from out of state. They also add some talented sophomores to an already impressive roster. The Bulldogs have a strong group of newcomers mixing in with an already deep roster of talented players. Look for Kaneland to potentially make a big leap this year from a .500 squad. The Knights return 11 players and coach Scott Parillo always challenges his team to a difficult nonconference schedule. They'll need to stay healthy. Could this be West Aurora's year to make history? The Blackhawks are trying to acquire that conference championship that has been elusive. With 9 seniors, including the McPherson sisters, this could be the year.