Scouting the 2022 girls soccer season in Lake County

  • Libertyville's Sally Grace Rogers, right, celebrates her goal with teammate Avery Gleason during the girls state soccer Class 3A third-place game last season. Both players return for the Wildcats this season.

      Libertyville's Sally Grace Rogers, right, celebrates her goal with teammate Avery Gleason during the girls state soccer Class 3A third-place game last season. Both players return for the Wildcats this season. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Wauconda's Belle Johnson (17) returns for the defending Northern Lake County Conference champion Bulldogs this season.

      Wauconda's Belle Johnson (17) returns for the defending Northern Lake County Conference champion Bulldogs this season. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Katie Dinsmore (14) is a returning player for Grayslake Central this spring.

      Katie Dinsmore (14) is a returning player for Grayslake Central this spring. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/18/2022 9:40 PM

The Libertyville girls soccer team finished third in the state in Class 3A last year, but Wildcats coach Daniel DePaz noted that half of last year's team is gone due to graduation.

Bad, right?

 

Not so quick.

DePaz added that the majority of the team's starters are back and more big-time help has arrived.

In other words, business as usual.

"We lost a couple key players, but return a large core and are adding more depth to this year's team," said DePaz, whose team went 18-2 and shared the North Suburban Conference title at 7-1 with Stevenson and Warren.

Back from last year's state trophy team are seniors Avery Gleason (F, 16 goals, 3 assists), Abby Gordon (MF, 8 goals, 10 assists), Lauren Rocco (MF, 2 goals, 7 assists), Paige Gleason (MF, 6 goals, 2 assists), Sally Grace Rogers (D, 5 goals, 4 assists) and Riley Brennan (D, 1 goal, 2 assists), as well as junior midfielder Jenna Krakowski (4 goals, 7 assists). Gordon and Avery Gleason were all-sectional last year, while Rocco was an all-NSC pick and Paige Gleason was all-NSC honorable mention.

Added firepower has arrived for the Wildcats in the form of Ohio State commit Dakota Lyons (MF, senior) and Alabama-Birmingham commit Brielle Rochester (MF, senior).

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Warren went 15-2-3 overall and lost in the sectional semifinals to Stevenson. Senior goalie Trish Georgiou (0.71 goals-against average, 9 shutouts) is back, along with a long list of returners in seniors Ella Skelton (F, 21 goals, 11 assists), Samantha Pullins (MF, 12 goals, 7 assists), Kylie Mahoney (MF, 10 assists), Katelyn Crowson (MF, 4 goals, 4 assists) and Olivia Ehlers (D) and juniors Emma Paraskos (D, 2 goals, 5 assists), Alina May (MF) and Paige Hogberg (D), as well as sophomore Mia Gloria (D).

Skelton was an all-state pick, while Mahoney earned all-sectional honors and Pullins and Georgiou were all-sectional honorable mentions. Warren coach Ryan McCabe pointed out the NSC had five teams play for regional titles in 2021 (3 advanced to the sectional round). "I believe most of these teams are returning key players," McCabe said. "There could be several of us contending for the top spot again this year."

Stevenson (15-4-1 and a regional title in 2021) has seniors Madison Kim (MF), Lily Mahdavian (D), Kaitlyn Hong (D) and Ella Hong (MF) and junior Arabella Chavez (MF) back. Chavez was all-NSC as a sophomore.

Mundelein (11-7-2 last year) returns juniors Phoebe Almora (MF), Bella Cordova (D), Lauren Coup (D) and Gladdie Greenfield (MF).

Lake Zurich will be led by the likes of returning all-sectional player Maggie Miller (D, junior). Lake Zurich split its first two games with Fremd (3-2 loss) and Lakes (4-1 win) and had five different players score goals with Kaylee Piggott scoring two in the Lakes win.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

NLCC

Defending Northern Lake County Conference champion Wauconda (11-6-2, 6-0-1 NLCC in 2021) welcomes back seniors Jordan Bodden (MF), Belle Johnson (MF), Katie Karecki (MF) and Samira Khobdeh (D), as well as junior forward Kenna Wisniewski. Rosalie Wisniewski graduated and was the NLCC player of the year a year ago. Wauconda has 15 returning varsity players.

"We feel we are the team to beat in the NLCC," Bulldogs coach Beau Shogren said. "However, we know we have a target on our back every game. I respect the coaches in the conference so much. We won't be taking them for granted. We have a core of players that has been here before, so we have really high hopes for the season."

Lakes (8-8-3 in 2021) has senior midfielders Sophia Goodale (5 goals, 3 assists) and Lily Erwin (8 goals) back, with help from senior Sophie Walker, freshman midfielder Michela Hopkins, sophomore goalie Caitlin Pron and senior midfielder Nicole Varga. Eagles coach Kevin Kullby pointed out that Lakes gave up only 1 goal in conference last season (to Round Lake). "Our defense is solid and we return several starters from last season," he said.

Grayslake Central, which won 10 games last spring, is led by Loyola-Chicago commit and senior goalie Piper Gallaher, who earned all-sectional and all-NLCC honors. Courtney Fletcher (F, 4 goals), Ava Ramsey (MF, 4 goals), Katie Dinsmore (D), Sara Armstrong (MF) and Natalie Thorson (D) also return. Keep an eye on freshman newcomer Madison Hoffmann (MF).

Across town, Grayslake North finished second in the NLCC behind returning all-conference players in Ashley Plant (D, senior), Emily Hansen (MF, senior), Maddie Barrie (D, senior), Olivia Tabbert (D, soph.) and Isabella Moran (MF, junior). Barrie was all-sectional last year, while Hansen was all-sectional honorable mention.

Grant graduated 10 seniors from last year and has one senior back in Jory Mendoza.

East Suburban Catholic

Carmel took fourth in the East Suburban Catholic last year, but has all-sectional selection Anna Hartman back. Hartman, a sophomore forward, scored 17 goals last season. Zkylah Barnes (D, senior), Grace Harvey (D, senior), Lauren Jenkins (MF, senior) and Jillian Miller (MF, sophomore) will also aid the Corsairs.

Vernon Hills (10-8-1, 6-3-1 Central Suburban North) is powered by all-sectional pick Grace Guillaume (MF, senior, 16 goals, 3 assists in 2021) and all-CSL North selection Julia Kempf (MF, senior, 9 goals, 14 assists). Coach Mike McCaulou said Deerfield and Highland Park are teams to watch in the North. Cougars sophomore goalie Carly Sides recorded shutouts in each of Vernon Hills' first two games, including a 0-0 tie against Wauconda earlier this week.

MSL West

Barrington has had a stranglehold on the Mid-Suburban League girls soccer championship for what seems like forever to the rest of its rivals in the MSL, but that grip may be loosening.

The Fillies, who last season claimed their ninth straight league title and fourth state trophy in the last five years, have seen countless all-area, all-conference and four all-state players graduate during the last four years.

"We're in a transition year," said Fillies coach Ryan Stengren, who lists eight players back from his 2021 fourth-place state team.

"We lost our all-state keeper (Coast Liapis) and all-state center-back, Kate McGreevy, who will be impossible to replace, but we have a nice core back with us to offset graduation losses, inexperience and a few health issues we have right now."

Stengren will lean on seniors Nicole Gwiasda, Riley Raynor and Gracie Stagnito in addition to juniors Brooke Brown and Kate Lubinsky, all key figures in a 17-3-2 overall record a year ago.

"In my opinion, Fremd is the team to beat right now. (Fremd coach) Steve (Keller) does a great job every year and he has some really talented players coming back, so they're the favorite," said Stengren.

The Vikings boast a dynamic player up top in Lily Spotak, as well as sophomore Gemma Gillespie, a top-flight attacking midfielder who is capable of impacting play in any phase. Keeper Sam Gary and five others from the 2021 team, plus an impressive handful of newcomers hope to boost the Vikings' chances this spring.

"I'm excited to see how we stack up this season. There's no reason at all why we should not contend for the conference title," Keller said.

Conant coach Jason Franco figures two of the best at their positions, Emma Simpson (senior, F) and Sydney Litney (junior, GK) will help stem the tide while he sorts out his roster.

"(Simpson) is a legitimate attacking presence and Sydney could be one of the best keepers around. The question for us is piecing together our back line and midfield that will include a handful of new faces," said Franco, who last season collected his 200th career victory for the girls program.

Former Hoffman Estates and Wheaton College star Mary Dansdill takes over at her alma mater, so there's plenty of excitement around the Hawks' soccer club.

"We have good leadership, and we return a large core group with varsity experience, so if we work hard, stay disciplined and healthy, we can be competitive and have success," said Dansdill, who has quality between the sticks with Paige Schneider and in the center of the park with Mallory Anderson, Hailey Weidner and freshman Bella Wehrle.

Willie Filian will embark on his 30th and final season as head coach to end a brilliant career in both the boys and girls programs at Palatine, and this season Filian and longtime assistant Charlie Gries will welcome back seniors Allie Henning (MF) and Olivia Riley (F), along with a trio of juniors to help the cause.

"We're looking to having Allie and Olivia to provide leadership with Mia (Ramirez) and Paige Millstone giving us some creativity in the midfield," said Gries, who is stepping in for Filian while he's out of town.

Greg Charvat will take over as the dean of the MSL coaches after Filian retires, and the Schaumburg coach will look to build around nine returning players and several freshmen who look to make an imprint on Saxons soccer.

"We have a nice balance of youth and experience, but it will take some time to find our identity as a team with eight new players on our roster," said Charvat, now in his 27th year.

"We expect to be competitive and we're excited about our potential throughout the season as each player gains experience in our training sessions and games."

MSL East

A truly gifted senior class, led by the first class trio of Pam Bolis, Alyssa Weede, and Sophie Veytsman, along with terrific complimentary players have all moved onto college yet Buffalo Grove coach Pat Dudle remains optimistic about his team's chances this season.

"With many talented seniors graduating, there will be many positions that will have new faces, but with Kora Kipley, Eva Ruterschmidt and Gracie Lee to lead our defensive organization, I believe we can be competitive and continue to improve all throughout the season," said Dudle, who led his club to a 2021 MSL East division crown.

Elk Grove coach Gabby Whittinghill lost eight seniors from her club, so the Grens will lean on seniors Kayce Wadas, Ava Henning and sisters Sydney and Tiffany Joseph to help see them through.

"We're going to hold each other accountable and look to have a more successful season this spring," said Whittinghill.

Hersey will be ultra young this spring, with a strong group of sophomore players that have made a big step forward in their development during the offseason said coach Mike Rusniak, who lost a wonderful central defender in Jane Stefaniak as well as a terrific all-around player Avery Larson.

"We added some freshmen who can make an immediate impact, so our youth, along with our returning upperclassmen, should make a very competitive team in every match," said Rusniak.

Prospect has the chance to challenge for the division crown despite losing seven players to graduation, including keeper Annie Ninness.

"We're excited for the season to begin, especially after the chaos of the last two seasons," said Knights coach Tom Froats, who remains cautiously optimistic about his team.

What Froats has is a terrific duo of Abby Knott up top and Hannah Mekky, who will likely run the show in the middle of the park, as well as five others who earned plenty of minutes in 2021 and several first-time varsity players to complement the returnees.

Mike Drenth endured a big graduation hit from a year ago, but the Rolling Meadows coach likes what he sees in his 2022 Mustangs club.

"The team is led by a bunch of really good kids, which matters so much, so if we stay healthy, because we're a little thin after our first 11, we could have a nice season overall," said Drenth, who believes junior Vanessa Adan (MF) has a chance to be a very good player.

Kevin Lennon, who has enjoyed plenty of success in the boys' program at Wheeling, has moved on to run a girls program, which has struggled to keep its head above water, something Lennon believes is about to change.

"We have a great group of hard-working girls who are excited to compete this year after we were unable to field a team last spring, so this team is ready to go after it to see what it can do," said Lennon, who will count on veterans Julia Kawa (D) and keeper Jenni Mondragon.

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