Girls soccer: Stevenson, Wauconda could make long runs again
Expectations were high for the Stevenson and Wauconda girls soccer teams last season, and neither disappointed.
Both teams made school history, in fact.
This spring, each could make another long run in the postseason.
Wauconda went 19-3-2 last season, finishing with a runner-up finish in the Class 2A state tournament for the first time. The Bulldogs were 66 seconds away from winning the state title, only to see Benet Academy tie the match and win it in overtime.
Stevenson (22-2-2 last season) also reached the supersectional for the first time in program history, before losing a 2-0 decision to New Trier, which ended up third in Class 3A.
Wauconda returns with a number of talented upperclassmen along with younger players ready to put their best foot forward. Three seniors lead the way in forward Savannah Johnson (9 goals, 11 assists), midfielder Morgan Lung and defender Madelyn Thompson. Junior Rosalie Wisniewski will be in the midfield along with sophomore Belle Johnson, and sophomore Mackenzie Arden returns as goalkeeper.
"Our girls would love to get back to state for another chance at it, but we all know how difficult that road is," Wauconda coach Beau Shogren said. "We still have a really strong core of seniors and juniors who have lots of experience, a few key sophomores who are looking to step up, and some really hungry freshmen who want to make an impact. We need to get the chemistry working again, but we are really excited about what this group can do this year. We want to make a good showing in our nonconference schedule, win the NLCC and set ourselves up for a favorable seed in the postseason. After that, anything can happen."
Stevenson returns senior defender Paige Copeland (Florida Southern commit), senior defensive midfielder Myah Schoolman (Wheaton College commit), junior defender Kayla Constabileo and junior midfielder Gabi Nyc.
"We will play with passion as one unit, working hard on or off the field," Patriots coach Pepe Jon Chavez said. "The girls are excited and working well together in training and looking forward to a great season."
The Wildcats return a number of players, including senior goalkeeper Kendall Edwards (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee commit), senior forward/defender Emma Manolovic (IUPUI), junior midfielder Lauren Huber and junior defender Lauren Milz.
"[Our expectations are] growth and to build on what we did last year," Wildcats coach Daniel DePaz said. "We return a number of players that played lots of minutes last year. Their experience will speak volumes as we move into the season, as will their familiarity with each other. We have a team that's full of talented players that played last year to multiple newcomers that bring lots of big-game experience."
Leading the way for the Mustangs are senior midfielder Madigan Franzen, senior midfielder Kadra Balla and senior Becca Nielsen, junior midfielder Sydney Boudreau (Purdue signee) and junior Addison Spilman.
"The veterans will look to immediately set a culture and tone of this team," Mundelein coach Heather Crawford said. "We do have a nice mix of talented freshmen combined with leadership of the upper classmen that will look to continue to develop and push the limits in order to be playing our best soccer well into May and early June."
The Blue Devils have been on the rise and expectations are to be even better this season. They are led by senior goalkeeper Sarah Barbosa, senior defender Morgan Liebau (Winona State commit), senior forward Elizabeth Weinberg and senior defender Olivia Wolf.
"We have a solid core of players returning," Warren coach Ryan McCabe said. "I expect us to be competing for the North Suburban Conference [championship]."
The Bears may be on the younger side. Senior midfielder Jenna Krause, senior midfielder Elisabeth Hume, junior midfielder Haley Brosseau, junior defender Abby DeGustino and junior forward Ashleigh Stanovich lead the way.
"We have a young team this year with many players that are ready to contribute at the varsity level," Lake Zurich coach Michael Castronova said. "Our goal is to continue to improve throughout the season and to come together as a team as the season progresses."
The Panthers posted one of their best seasons last year and return a strong group led by senior Dana Devera, who will play volleyball next year for McHenry County College. The Panthers' other veterans include defender Sofia Melesio (Marian University commit), midfielder Andrea Guzman, forward Evelyn Hierzer, midfielder Kimberly Salgado and midfielder Anna Vazquez.
"We want to keep the momentum from last year," Round Lake coach Josue Jimenez said. "Last year, we had great accomplishments with breaking the school record for wins, competing in our (Northern Lake County) conference, and being able to compete in our regional game. We do have many new players and it's important that we work together in order to achieve this goal."
The Eagles have their defense back. Their veterans include senior defender Madison Baker, senior defender Kaily Kao, senior midfielder Noella Padilla, junior forward Zoe Kane and junior goalkeeper Taylor Primack.
"Our defense is our strength this season," Lakes coach Kevin Kullby said. "Scoring will be a struggle, though, but I think we can win the conference given the varsity experience that are starters have from playing last season."
The Knights return senior forward Arianna Gotshall, senior defender Eden Hartigan, senior defender Emma Hochstein, junior midfielder Rachel McBride, junior midfielder Gia Marrero and junior midfielder Willow Silverman.
"We're looking forward to the season ahead with [players] ready to test and prove themselves against our pretty tough schedule," Grayslake North coach Adam DeCaluwe said. "This group of girls seems to not only have fun together, but they are also willing to work hard every day, as they are genuinely excited to learn and grow as individuals and as a team."
The Rams look to build off last season with a few players who took part in the basketball team's successful season, which included a supersectional appearance. Senior midfielder Amanda Kocialkowski, senior forward Madeline Mussay and sophomore keeper Piper Gallaher all played key roles for the basketball team.
The Rams' roster also features junior midfielder Lillian Bak, junior midfielder Georgia Bond, sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Morrissey and sophomore forward Sara Ottolino.
"The varsity has seen new coaches over the last few years," first-year Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson said. "I do have high goals for the varsity, [as] they haven't won a regional since 2011. I think they are due for one, and this group deserves a season they will remember for forever."
The Corsairs have a new coach in Stephanie Kile (Swanson), who takes over from Ray Krawzak. She was an assistant coach under Krawzak and, before that, John Halloran. Kile played soccer for the Corsairs, graduating in 2008.
"I'm very excited for the season," Kile said. "I feel we have the talent and team camaraderie to be one of the top teams in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and make a deep run in the (Class) 2A playoffs."
The Cougars should be competitive in the Central Suburban League North Division, as several players are back. Leading the way are senior midfielder Lily Blase, senior defender Abby Brown, senior forward Abby Kempf and senior defender Emily Singer. Junior goalkeeper Daniella Jarrell and sophomore midfielder Julia Kempf also return.
"We just want to be competitive, always," Vernon Hills coach Mike McCaulou said. "Just be disciplined on both sides of the ball."