Girls Soccer: Strength, potential in area teams’ lineups
By Steve Nemeth For Sun-Times Media March 14, 2013 4:44PM
Zoe Swift (21), shown against Lockport during the 2012 sectional final, returns to lead Naperville North in defense of their state title. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2013 3:16PM
Late-winter snow, ice and rain have challenged area soccer teams’ early-season plans.
“We’re anxious, anxious, anxious to get going,” Benet coach Bob Gros said. “But I guess we’re all in the same pickle. We’ll hope for warmer temps and sunny days sooner rather than later, and reschedule as best as we’re able.”
“It may make for a mental challenge later when we’re all playing three or four games within a week due to make-ups,” Metea Valley coach Patrick Feulner said. “But I guess we’ll have to fight through that challenge and consider it an extra tune-up for the playoffs.”
Here’s a team-by-team look at area programs, listed alphabetically:
Coach: Bob Gros (second year)
Last year: 18-4-3 (East Suburban Catholic 7-1-1)
Outlook: After an 18-4-3 campaign that ended with a 2-1 loss to eventual Class 2A state champion Wheaton St. Francis, Benet’s 2013 crew will be young and focused on developing chemistry with the loss of 16 seniors. All four of the Redwings’ losses were by a single goal and they finished just shy of first place in the ESCC at 7-1-1. “Benet has always been a very competitive program and we will be again this year,” Gros said. “Yes, we’ll be relatively young but high school soccer is always a big adventure and the term rebuilding can be misleading.” Two players Gros believes can excel are senior forwards Amanda Kaiser (28 pts./12g-4a) and Meaghan O’Hara (25 pts./9g-7a). Sophomore Emma Hlavin will be pushed for playing time in goal by junior Christina Stopka. A pair of sophomores expected to help on defense are Sophia Elechiri and Rachel Bernicky, while freshman Ellie Bumpus is also fighting for playing time.
Coach: Patrick Feulner (fifth year)
Last year: 17-5 (UEC Valley 5-1-0)
Outlook: Metea Valley’s 2012 seniors were the school’s initial four-year players and their goal was to set the bar high for future Mustang teams. This season’s crew is the first to try to raise the standards even higher than the 17-5 regional champions. The nucleus begins with IHSSCA All-State selection and Ohio State signee Megan Geldernick (10 solo clean sheets) in goal, with backup and fellow senior Kylie Dunning (four shared shutouts) inked to play for IPFW and senior midfielder/forward Alyssa Fox choosing IUPUI. Seniors Jenna Kentgen (48 pts./18g-12a) and McKenzie Sheesley (18 pts./7g-4a) fuel the offense. “We feel we’ve got the two best keepers in the state and a solid backline that has played together before,” coach Patrick Feulner said. “We’ve got solid goal scorers and having all but three starters back, the girls believe they can go all the way.” Mid/forward Tyler Proszowski returns after missing much of the 2012 season due to a concussion, while Katie Kennedy is a sophomore midfielder who previously played in southern California.
Coach: Ed Watson (21st year)
Last year: 20-2-2 (DuPage Valley 6-0-1)
Outlook: The Redhawks lost 11 seniors to graduation, including Sun Player of the Year goal keeper Jill D’Amico. Their 20-win campaign ended in a 1-0 regional final upset loss. It’s a safe bet that coach Ed Watson and his Redhawks simply consider it the past, period. There’s more than enough talent back for Central to defend its Naperville Invitational crown, contend as always for the DVC title, and make a long postseason run. “Veronica Ellis and Grace Orndorff are two of the top midfielders in the area. Abby Joyce had a great sophomore year and will need to continue to score for us,” Watson said. “Three of last year’s back four (Amanda Alberts, Sabrina Cisneros, and Meredith Tunney) return and they’ll have to protect our young goalkeepers.” Ellis, a four-year varsity player and Indiana signee, was IHSSCA All-Sectional in 2011 while Orndorff, with three varsity campaigns and a verbal commitment to Northwestern, was All-Sectional in 2012. Both made All-DVC as did Joyce following an impressive soph year with 30 pts. (9g-12a). Senior forward Autumn Muckenhern (11 pts./5g-1a) signed with North Dakota State while Cisneros was inked by Bowling Green State.
Coach: Steve Goletz (second year)
Last year: 24-1-2 (DuPage Valley 6-0-1)
Outlook: Second-year skipper Steve Goletz and his Huskies hope to produce a resounding “yes” to the question of whether Naperville North can repeat as state champs. After a runner-up finish in 2011, the Huskies not only made it back to the finals, but got the 1-0 triumph over St. Charles North. “Our girls know they’ve got an even bigger target on their backs, but we’re looking forward to this season and trying to build on last year,” Goletz said. “We’ve got a very talented senior class and return six or seven starters with plenty of depth on the bench; but none of that guarantees us even one win. We know we have to earn everything all over again.” Kentucky signee Zoe Swift keeps adding to her resume: 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-America, NSCAA All-Midwest, IHSSCA All-State, multiple All-Area accolades, 36 pts./16g-4a. Three teammates were signed by Big Ten programs: Christa Szalach (Purdue), Angela Widlacki (Penn State) and Maria Gryglewski (Northwestern). Senior midfielder Cora Climo was inked by Bucknell. No. 2 point producer Abbie Boswell (33 pts./11g-11a) is just starting to build her resume after earning IHSSCA All-Section 10 status as a freshman.
Coach: Joe Moreau (eighth year)
Last year: 16-5-2 (UEC Valley 6-1-0)
Outlook: Losing a one-goal heartbreaker to eventual state champion Naperville North in the sectional championship can create a hunger the next season. That’s the best way to describe the Wildcats following their 16-5-2 journey in 2012. Talent is everywhere in the lineup. Start with Zoey Goralski: NSCAA All-America in 2011 and 2012, the IHSSCA 2012 Player of the Year, UCLA signee, 45 pts. (17g-11a). and add on Gianna Dal Pozzo, iHSSCA All-Section 3, Miami (Fla.) signee, 35 pts. (14g-7a), Illinois-bound corner kick artist Hope D’Addario, Bucknell-bound Shannon Donlon, Illinois State-inked Brooke Ksiazek and goal keeper Courtney Keefer, who has received an offer from Illinois. Then realize there are more returnees and a pair of promising newcomers in junior defender Kelly Keckler and freshman midfielder Chelsea Meyers. “With a veteran squad, we hope to build off of last year’s sectional final loss,” coach Joe Moreau said. “We are much deeper this year and once everyone is healthy, we have the potential to be a very good team.”
Coach: Julie Bergstrom (13th year)
Last year: 16-5-3 (UEC Valley 4-1-1)
Outlook: At Waubonsie Valley the question is not if the girls soccer team will be good — 24 straight seasons with double-digit victories — it is how good will the Warriors be? How strong is this 2013 unit for coach Julie Bergstrom? Start the evaluation with IHSSCA All-State Rachele Armand (Louisville) and All-Section 3 Jenna Romano (Wake Forest), plus top weapons Kristen Brots (33 pts./11g-11a / Kent State) and Kristen Dodson (30 pts./12g-6a / Auburn). Continue the conversation with Rachele Brots (SIU-Edwardsville), Kendall Wilde (Illinois-Chicago) and Karla DiJohn (D-III Notre Dame College) plus improving sophomores Auburn Morgan in midfield and Emma Rigby in goal. The roll call of talented Warrior alums playing at the collegiate level will rise to 52 once this year’s seniors graduate.