Chicago Sun-Times

On the Ball

By Patrick Z. McGavin

This is the prelude, if you will. The week marks the last full week of practice and inter-squad scrimmages before the IHSA permits teams to schedule soccer games.

The 2014 boys season starts next week. As part of our ongoing preliminary exploration of what to look out for, this was the end of year Sun-Times rankings, with final records and preseason rank in the parenthetical last November.

Again, patterns and motifs are part of all sports, and variations naturally happen, but in soccer, because of tradition, talent pool and access to resources, the best teams tend to dominate year to year. When that does not happen, you have a magnificent story, like last year's Wheeling team, which as we noted last week had nearly twice as many losses the year before.

With that in mind, Final boys soccer rankings. (The NR, by the way, means not ranked in that respective preseason.)

1. Wheeling 23-2-2 (NR)
2. Naperville Central 19-3-2 (6)
3. Lake Park 21-4-3 (NR)
4. Morton 25-3 (5)
5. Hinsdale Central 20-1-2 (2)
6. Lyons 17-3-3 (3)
7. Barrington 19-5-4 (14)
8. St. Charles East (7)
9. Washington 15-1-8 (NR)
10. St. Ignatius 20-6-2 (NR)

Others: Wheaton Academy, Evanston, Benet, Lane, Sandburg, Hersey, Batavia, Burlington Central, Herscher, Parker.

The other standard narrative is that the best teams tend to come out of the top conferences: in no particular order those conferences are the two divisions of the Upstate Eight, the two sections of the Mid-Suburban League, the two parts of West Suburban Conference and the two parts of the Central Suburban League. The DuPage Valley is another standout league.

One of the most interesting parts of the boys' campaign is a lot of great tournaments are staged right off the bat, unlike the girls, where the PepsiCo Showdown and the Naperville Invitational, the two most important in-season tournaments, happen roughly midway to halfway part of the season.

Wouldn't you know, right off the bat, on the first day games are permitted, on Monday, Aug. 25th, two of these standout conferences, the Mid-Suburban and the Central Suburban, are staging a conference showcase. These games are:

Deerfield at Conant
Evanston at Wheeling
Glenbrook South at Hersey
Glenbrook North at Buffalo Grove
Highland Park at Elk Grove
Maine East at Hoffman Estates
Maine South at Fremd
Maine West at Rolling Meadows
New Trier at Schaumburg
Niles North at Barrington
Niles West at Prospect
Waukegan at Palatine
Niles West at Prospect (on Tuesday, Aug. 26th)

Additionally, Barrington, Lake Park and Leyden have important early season tournaments. The PepsiCo Showdown starts on Saturday, Sept. 13, and features many of the top programs in the Sun-Times area.

The Best of the West Tournament, the boys' equivalent of the Naperville Invitational, also starts the day after Labor Day and goes a long way to helping clarify the early teams and players to watch.

Soccer fans, this is your last week of quiet, to finish that book you are reading. Next week, it gets serious. The Sun-Times' soccer preview is going to appear between now and the start of the season.

It is on.

Soccer is a year round sport for most players. The summer, for practical purposes, ends as the 2014-15 athletic calendar starts anew with the formal unveiling of practice for the fall sports. Boys soccer practice starts Wednesday, Aug. 13th.

Experience tells us once it starts, it gathers a quick and eventful momentum.

The top players in the class of 2014--men and women--move to the next level, beginning their college careers with the start of exhibition and regular-season play this month. It is a moment of reflection, of transitions, endings and beginnings, if you will.

In the coming weeks, the Sun-Times will publish, in its print edition and online at, a preview of the top teams and top players and key storylines to follow this year.

Here's a quick summary of the 2013 season: In Class 3A, an unheralded Wheeling team that started the year unraked after winning just eight games the preceding year rode the fantastic and exhilarating play of Jose Garcia--the Sun-Times Player of the Year--to second place, losing 2-1 to Edwarsville in the state championship game at Hoffman Estates.

After recording consecutive runner-up titles, Naperville Central finished third, beating DuPage Valley rival Lake Park.

The other supersectional qualifiers were: Barrington, Morton, Larkin and Sandburg.

In Class 2A, Public League power Washington stunned the field, easing past St. Ignatius 2-1. The Colonels got hot at the right time to give the city its second state title in the previous three years. Wheaton Academy also reached the state semifinals.

In Class 1A, Herscher finished state runner-up, losing to Gibault. Parker finished third, whipping Genoa-Kingston in the third-place match.

This was the Sun-Times All-Area team. Only five of the players were non-seniors.

First team


Iven Hernandez, Antioch
Nelson Herrera, Maine West
Christian Meyer, Hinsdale Central
Matt Murphy, Lyons


Mike Catalano, Lake Park
Jose Fuentes, Lane
Jose Garcia, Wheeling
Kyle Kenagy, Benet


Kevin Heinrich, St. Charles East
Jakub Rys, Huntley


Ian Chacon, Morton

Second team


John Cappuccitti, Hersey
Niko Mihalopoulos, Huntley
Ty Seager, Wheaton Academy
Logan Wright, Plainfield North


Nestor Ascencio, Streamwood
Sergio Fuentes, Lane
John Moderwell, Lake Forest
Jay Tegge, Naperville Central


Breton Lowry, Evanston
Marshall West, Wheaton Academy


Wes Bergevin, Hinsdale Central

Third team


Juan Elizalde, Bloom
Frankie Kocimski, Lyons
Bryan Long, St. Ignatius
Noah Wolff, Parker


Devon Amoo-Mensah, Naperville Central
Ian McGrath, Lincoln-Way West
Spencer Moore, St. Viator
Kurt Roemer Jr., Glenbrook South


Kyle Clancy, Palatine
Joey Spera, Wheaton Warrenville South


Pat Deroche, Barrington

The rise of academy, or club play, has had a profound impact on the boys game, producing its share of uncertainty as a new season approaches. It cuts both ways, of players bypassing high school to focus on club or those former academy players electing to play high school. It is pretty topsy-turvy.

The larger point is unmistakable: the new season, with all teams 0-0, is on.

Updating a recent post about the national championship in club play that concluded last week in Germantown, Maryland, the Sun-Times' area programs that qualified failed in their quest to win a national title.

Still, the larger picture is a buoyant one that requires a long view. Again, the larger performance reaffirmed the area as a leading hotbed for top talent. The Aurora-based Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo registered the best finish, a national runner-up after they lost 1-0 against the Virginia-based VSA Heat Blue in the women's U19 division title match.

The U19 bracket was different than the rest of the field, with just four teams. Botafogo entered a favorite, having won the national crown last year in the U18 division and returning the nucleus of that team.

Botafogo played great team defense, conceding just two goals in the four games. The team had two ties and smashed the Georgia-based SSA Chelsea 95 Elite 5-0 in pool play to finish second in the bracket and reach the title game. Marquette rising sophomore Ashley Handwork--the 2013 Sun-Times Player of the Year at Plainfield North--tied for the tournament lead in goals, with two. (Her college teammate Liz Bartels, a rare player in the program who did not attend high school in Illinois, also scored two goals.)

Illinois rising sophomore Hope D'Addario (Neuqua Valley) also tallied for Botafogo, as did Kaitlin Johnson, the former Rosary star now at Michigan State.

In the U17 bracket, the Naperville-based NSA Jaguars experienced a bit of a rough go, dropping two games and tying a third in the pool play. Again, it has to be emphasized the accomplishment to qualify for nationals, especially a relatively nascent program such as NSA that draws players largely from the western suburbs. The entire roster played on their high school teams this spring before taking the plunge into summer club play.

In the U16 division, the Northfield-based FC United Select felt the sting of disappointment by failing to advance to the national title game after the went 2-0-1 in pool play and finished first in its bracket. The team, made up entirely of rising juniors, lost 2-1 against eventual national runner-up Tampa Bay United 97 Premier in the semifinals.

"We all tried our best, and played our hardest, but sometimes you don't get the result that you want," New Trier midfielder Bina Saipi said. Her high school teammate Dani Kaufman, the team's goalie, admitted the loss "left us with a bad taste in our mouth. We really wanted to get to that title game."

The disappointment has already faded, and the players--those preparing for the start of the women's college season and those getting ready for fall club play at the high school level--have taken the experience for its importance and moving on. "We made the experience," Kaufman said.

On the men's side, the Bridgeview-based Chicago Fire Youth academy team qualified in the U17, though finished 0-2-1 and failed to advance beyond pool play. In the U16 field, the Highland Park-based Chicago Magic PSG program finished third in its bracket, going 1-1-1 and playing very competitive soccer. Barrington's Kendall Stork, who was Sun-Times All-Area as a freshman two years ago before playing club exclusively, scored a team-best three goals for the program.

The next generation stars were probably best represented by the Lemont-based Raiders FC U14 iteration. They finished 1-1-1 in pool play.

New Trier's rising junior class is arguably the best in the state (rival Loyola is right there).

Following the announcement that standout Trevian forward Kelly Maday has made an oral commitment to attend Illinois, two more key players from the Trevians' 31-1 Class 3A state champion team have followed in her path.

Midfielder Bina Saipi committed to DePaul and goalie Dani Kaufman is set to play college soccer at Maryland.

Both players just returned from the club nationals in Germantown, Maryland, as starters on the Northbrook-based FC Select United U-16 edition that reached the semifinals before losing to Tampa Bay United 97 Premier.

It has been a gilded and whirlwind for the two teammates. Saipi started all 32 games for the Trevians and scored five goals and distributed seven assists as an attacking midfielder in the Trevians' attack. After alternating with Michelle Sokal in the first month of the season, Kaufman played the majority of minutes as the Trevians' keeper.

She allowed just six goals in 23 games. After allowing two goals (one on a penalty kick) against Waubonsie Valley in the Trevians' only loss in the championship game of the Naperville Invitational, Kaufman closed out the year with a remarkable flury. She did not concede a goal in the Trevians' final 11 games, including all seven of the state tournament matches.

Saipi said the Blue Demons' combination of proximity to the North Shore, athletics and academics was too good to pass up. "I wanted my family to come out to as many games and watch me play," she said. "I loved the school and the campus and I thought the coach [Erin Chastain] was really nice. You could see she really cares about her players."

Former Trevian star Jessica Weaver is a rising sophomore at DePaul.

Saipi said since she has worked hard to refine and develop her game in the summer. "I really wanted to work on my first touch, and just build up my feet," she said, before continuing, "dribbling series, perfecting my shot and getting to every through ball."

By committing to new Big Ten program Maryland, Kaufman achieved her own dream. "My whole life I have dreamed about playing Division I soccer in the Big Ten," she said. "Both of my parents graduated from the University of Michigan, and I spent a lot of time there, growing up, going to football games on the weekends."

In the fall of 2013, she was visiting her brother Aaron, a student at George Washington, and he suggested she take a look at the program. "I just loved the campus," she said. Maryland's coaches watched her play at the nationals and were suitably impressed by her tenacity, speed and quickness. "Everything fell into place," she said. "They gave me an offer, and I took it."

Not having a chance to play for the national title is about the only thing that has not gone according to their script. "It's been really crazy, coming off the state win for New Trier and then starting regionals for FC United," Kaufman said. "It's just been go go go.

"Losing [in the national semifinals] left us with a bad taste, but we help each other up when we fall and it made for a great experience."

The past and present intertwine this week at the age-group national championships in both men's and women's soccer in Germantown, Maryland.

Last year top programs and elite players from the Sun-Times' coverage area showcased their abilities on a national level and helped solidify the Chicago market as an top-notch training ground.

This year is more of the same, as well as inflaming the debate about the developing conflict on the national merits of club and high school play. Like prep basketball, soccer is now a year-round sport, and the best players are often confronted with the dilemma of whether to swing back and forth between travel play and the traditional high school experience or dedicate their time exclusively to club play.

Roughly sixty percent of the country's state athletic associations separates the seasons for boys and girls; by having its season in the spring, young women in Illinois have a few options and many of the best players opt to play club during the fall and winter and then perform for their high school teams in the spring.

By playing in the fall, the boys have fewer options, and the high school game has been hurt by the rise of club and academy teams.

One rationale and justification for the considerable costs and resources for playing exclusively in club is the need to compete better at the national level and greater exposure to college recruiting with the national travel.

With the men's and women's games played in the fall exclusively at the college level, summer and fall national tournaments take on an exaggerated role. When New Trier rising junior forward Kelly Maday made an oral commitment to Illinois, for instance, she said the timing was shaped by the school's own recruiting time table.

The nationals offer their own chance at coronation. Still, it also provides a rare chance for former local stars to reconnect with friends and former high school teammates for national recognition.

In the women's U19 class, the Aurora-based Team Chicago Academy-Botafogo again draws from some of the greatest players in recent Illinois state history to defend its national title of a year ago.

The nucleus of the club is a clutch of former stars from Naperville North, Waubonsie Valley, Neuqua Valley and Plainfield North. Kentucky rising sophomore Zoe Swift, who led Naperville North to back-to-back Class 3A state titles in 2012 and 2013, scored two goals in the championship game last year.

College sophomore Ashley Handwork, the Sun-Times Player of the Year last year, assisted both goals by Swift. Her younger sister Heather Handwork, first team Sun-Times All-Area player for the Tigers, is one of two 2014 graduates on the roster (joined by Neuqua Valley graduate Katie Ciesiulka). The two Handworks and Ciesiulka all play for Marquette.

The other top players on the squad are former Neuqua Valley stars Gianna Dal Pozzo (Miami) and Zoey Goralski (UCLA), former Waubonsie Valley standout Jenna Romano (Wake Forest) and Metea Valley great Megan Geldernick (Ohio State). The Botafogo club program obliterated the argument you have to play club year round to compete effectively at the national level. Last year's entire roster played competitive high school and then made the very smooth transition to club in capturing the national crown, without suffering any loss of chemistry or team cohesion.

At the Regional II championships in Beavercreek, Ohio, Botafogo annihilated the rest of the field in outscoring the competition by an aggregate of 21-2. Ashley Handwork scored six goals as the program won its third consecutive Regional title.

The program opens preliminary play on Tuesday, July 22nd, against California-based Legends FC, at 1 p.m., CST. Each of the four teams in the U19 bracket play three round-robin games before until single elimination play starts on Saturday.

In the U17 bracket, the Naperville-based NSA Jaguars, under the direction of Bonnie Young of North Central College, qualified for its second consecutive nationals.

Last year the team struggled at this stage after Naperville North star Abbie Boswell suffered a knee injury. Boswell is fully healthy, and she played spectacularly for a young and talented Huskies team the final six weeks of the high school season this spring. Boswell and Barrington's Jenna Szczesny are the state's top senior prospects.

Also, Waubonsie Valley rising junior Paige Filipek, after missing her sophomore year with injury, is fully recovered. Filipek led the Warriors in scoring as a freshman two years ago. Lyons' recent graduate Erin Fitzgerald, who is about to start her college career at Cornell, provides a strong and physical presence in the midfield. Eleven of the 18 players on the roster are already committed to play in college.

The U17 field is a two-group, eight pool bracket. The Jaguars open preliminary play Tuesday morning against the Kansas-based KC Metro Dynamos.

The aforementioned Maday of state champion New Trier leads the Northfield-based FC United Select in the U16 bracket. Maday is one of five New Trier players on the squad, with top defender Jen Fishman, midfielders Celia Frei, Bina Saipi and two superb keepers, Dani Kaufman and Michelle Sokal.

Maday keys the top of the attack with Loyola rising junior Devin Burns, first team All-Area performer who's also fully recovered from last year's ACL injury and Glenbrook South's Olivia Peters. The team is coached by Loyola's Craig Snowers. Another player to watch is rising Ramblers' junior KK Phelan, who demonstrated some very elite scoring skills in relatively limited minutes as an underclassman for the Ramblers last spring.

FC United Select is in Group A of its bracket and opens preliminary play against California program Carlsbad Elite 97/98 on Tuesday afternoon.

Starting Tuesday, please check this space for updates regarding local teams and players in both the boys and girls club finals. Additional information is also available at

She is not even eligible to drive yet.

She is a string of precocity who commands a lot of attention. New Trier rising junior Kelly Maday has blossomed into one of the top soccer forwards in the country.

The dynamic 5-6 Maday committed to play at the University of Illinois and its coach, Janet Rayfield. Maday formed a devastating 1-2 scoring package with graduated New Trier star Maddie Mulford (Bucknell).

Maday does not turn 16-years-old until the middle of August. Maday, who made the Sun-Times' second-team All-area team, has emerged as the state's top player in the class of 2016. "I went [to Illinois] for an unofficial visit before the high school season this year, and I just fell in love with the school, the academics and the soccer program," Maday said.

Maday scored 19 goals and recorded 22 assists as the Trevians finished a remarkable 31-1 and captured the Class 3A state title at North Central College last month. She demonstrated a startling ability to play at her best in the most important games.

She scored the game-winning goals against No. 3 Barrington in the supersectional and against No. 2 Waubonsie Valley in the state semifinals. "Kelly goes zero to 60 in nothing," Jim Burnside, the New Trier coach, said about her.

"She can accelerate, [reminding] me of a sports car that as starts to accelerate she gets lower to the ground, and you see that fifth and sixth gear and she is dangerous all over the field."

Maday also scored two goals as the Trevians beat Buffalo Grove 3-1 at Toyota Park in winning the PepsiCo Showdown.

Most impressively, Maday made a remarkable and quick recovery after she missed her entire freshman year following knee surgery in April of 2013. She did not play competitive soccer until last July. "That experience definitely taught me a lot, and helped me realize what I was missing out on," she said. 'I just wanted to get back out there and work hard."

Increasingly at the high school level, college coaches recruit off the club circuit. Maday plays with FC United, the program founded by Loyola coach Craig Snower. The Ramblers are New Trier's greatest soccer rival (New Trier beat Loyola in a sectional final this year). Still, Snower is a New Trier graduate and former assistant boys coach there and is close friends with Burnside.

Five other Trevian players, including Celia Frei, Dani Kaufman and Bina Saipi, are on the same U-17 Select 1 program.

Maday consulted with Snower and indicated the programs she was interested in, including Illinois. She declined to name the other programs recruiting her, but said they were many of the top programs in the Midwest. With the college women's season in the fall, they push for early commitments. "There was no other place I wanted to go at that point," she said.

Maday's club program qualified for the nationals next month in Maryland.

She is now working at shaping and refining her already lethal game. "I'm hoping to grow more at the tactical level," she said. "I'm interested in protecting my skill and just sharpening up everything."

Soccer naturally turns to club play and the graduating seniors who are taking their game to the next level, in college. Many of the best players have already left home and are taking summer school classes and working out in preparation for the start of the women's college season, a fall sport.

Here's how the girls season finished out: In Class 3A, top-ranked New Trier won an IHSA record 31 games by defeating St. Charles East 1-0 in the state championship at North Central College in Naperville. The Trevians upended previous top-ranked Waubonsie Valley 1-0 in a state semifinal, avenging their only loss of the season. The Warriors defeated Lincoln-Way North in the third place game.

In Class 2A, Lake Forest beat Normal West on penalty kicks for its first state championship. Glenwood defeated Hinsdale South in the third-place game.

In Class 1A, Manteno dominated Rochester 4-0 behind the superb play of Emily Gaither and Sophia Schnitzler for its second state title in the last five years. The Panthers edged St. Edward in penalty kicks in a bruising state semifinal. The Wave beat Rockford Christian to finish third, its highest state finish in program history.

The natural inclination is to look forward. Girls soccer is somewhat volatile year to year, especially in the club era as players elect to either bypass high school to focus on club or returning club players, having secured a college scholarship, return to the fold of the traditional high school experience. All things being equal, this is a loose look at the spring of 2015, with teams and players to watch.

New Trier: The Trevians graduate star forward Maddie Mulford (25 goals, 11 assists), Molly Cahill and college-bound Sarah Connors (Trinity) and Meg Wozniak (Dennison). Coach Jim Burnside has another powerhouse in the making with the state's top rising junior, electric forward Kelly Maday (19 goals, 22 assists), midfielders Bina Saipi and Celia Frei, rising senior forward Maggie Armstrong and two excellent goalies in rising juniors Dani Kaufman and Michelle Sokal.

Waubonsie Valley: Sun-Times' player of the year Kristen Dodson is taking her talents to Auburn; second-team all-area selection Mackenzie Fuller (UIC) is going to be missed. Still, the Warriors are stacked at every position and have multiple Division 1-level players returning, including midfielders Morgan Kemerling, Jori Romano, defender Tori Christiansen, forward Sarah Laws and gifted rising sophomore Maggie Roe. Emma Rigby, one of the state's top goalies, is also back. Rising junior Paige Filipek, the team's best player two years ago, returns from an ACL knee injury.

St. Charles East: The Class 3A state runner-ups must also account for some heavy graduation losses. Still, coach Paul Jennison returns some big-time players, led by rising senior forward Darcy Cunningham, rising senior midfielder Kelli Santo Paulo, rising sophomore forward Claire Rasmussen and rising junior defender Sonia Ost, a second-time all-area performer.

Lincoln-Way North: In just its sixth year of existence, the Phoenix stunned Lyons to qualify for the state finals, where it finished fourth. Coach Mike Murphy must replace standout goalie Bethany Dombrowski and top defenders Brenna Stremlau and Lexi Cesario. The nucleus of his 22-win team returns, led by rising junior forward Rachel Pappas, rising senior Sarah Mirabella and two excellent midfielders, rising sophomore Bianca Galassini and rising junior Carly Marchal.

Barrington: The Fillies lost a 1-0 heartbreaker against New Trier in the supersectional. Coach Ryan Stengren suffered across the board graduation losses. He features the state's best player, Jenna Szczesny (30 goals, 15 assists) and some very talented underclassmen. Rising senior Hannah Luedtke has started every game as a goalie since her freshman year.

Loyola: The Rambers lost in the sectional final to rival New Trier. Coach Craig Snower graduated several highly talented players (Tori Iatarola, goalie Lauren Smith) whose intangibles are hard to replace. Still, he has probably the best junior class in the state, led by forward Devin Burns, first team all-area who is going to be fully recovered from off-season ACL knee surgery. Rising sophomore forward Katia Novi looks to be the program's next breakout star.

Naperville North: After three consecutive state title appearances and back-to-back Class 3A state championships, the Huskies experienced their own growing pains in this transitional year. Rising senior Abbie Boswell, after a slow start coming off knee surgery, was dynamite the last month of the season. She rates with Barrington's Szczesny as the state's best player. Rising senior Olivia Stapleton also had a breakthrough year. Goalie Fiona Baenziger is also top-notch. If Kayla Sharples, one of the best players in the country, returns from club, the Huskies are set up for another state championship run.

Lake Forest: Two cornerstones of the Scouts' state title team, midfielder Lucy Edwards and defender Sydney Johnston, have graduated. Coach Ty Stuckslager returns a deep roster led by the Hoke twins, rising senior midfielder Carly and defender Kendall. A superb junior class features forwards Jenny McKendry, Sheridan Weiss, midfielders Paige Bourne, Camille Cook and defenders Allie Banta and Adrian Walker.

Glenbrook North: The Titans ended the year on a disappointing note after being upset in the regional semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament. The team features two foundational players, rising senior and returning all-area player Kaily Bruch and rising junior forward Olivia Peters. Coach Ha Seong returns plenty of underclassmen who either started or saw extended action.

Plainfield North: The Handwork era is over, with the great Heather joining her sister, 2013 player of the year Ashley, at Marquette. Jane Crowe has a deep and talented feeder program to draw from in maintaining excellence. Two rising seniors, midfielder Erin Chynoweth and defender Brooke Polonus, are the returning standouts and are backed by a talented junior class.

The Public League is again likely to come down to the battle between defending city champion Young and Lane. The Dolphins return their dynamic all-area star rising senior forward Esme Kline and her classmates Andrea Gomes and Morgan Hawthorne. Defender Gaby Schwartz is the top rising junior.

The Indians counter with the city's top prospect, rising senior Sofia Pavon. She leads an excellent rising senior class with Natalie Wade and Anastasia Niforos. Andrea Cervantes, Nicole Vega and Detzi Reveles are the top rising juniors.

After winning its first state sectional in program history, Northside is the other program on the rise, led by rising junior Sarah Mullen and rising senior Bella Manobianco.

Other teams to watch next year: St. Charles North, Lyons, Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, Huntley, St. Edward, Hinsdale Central, Metea Valley, Libertyville, Lake Zurich, Deerfield, Maine South, Wheaton Warrenville South, Hinsdale South, Warren, St. Ignatius, York.

This year's All-Area team was versatile, deep and highly skilled. Here is a quick refresher on the 33 players that made up the Sun-Times three All-Area teams.

First team

Devin Burns, So., Forward, Loyola
Kristen Dodson, Sr., Forward, Waubonsie Valley, Player of the Year
Maddie Mulford, Sr., Forward, New Trier
Jenna Szczesny, Jr., Forward, Barrington

Meaghan Gelinas, Sr., Midfielder, Lake Zurich
Heather Handwork, Sr., Midfielder, Plainfield North
Jenna Kentgen, Sr., Midfielder, Metea Valley
Kelli Zickert, Sr., Buffalo Grove, Midfielder

Jenny Barr, Sr., Defender, St. Charles North
Talise Romain, Sr., Defender, Neuqua Valley

Morgan Harris, Sr.,Goalie, Hersey

Second team

Abbie Boswell, Jr., Forward, Naperville North
Allie Ingham, Sr., Forward, Buffalo Grove
Kelly Maday, So., Forward, New Trier
Sophie Pohl, Sr., Forward, St. Charles North

Katie Ciesiulka, Sr., Midfielder, Neuqua Valley
Lucy Edwards, Sr., Midfielder, Lake Forest
Kim Jerantowski, Sr., Midfielder, Lemont
Emily Lange, Sr., Midfielder, Lyons

Sonia Ost, So., Defender, St. Charles East
Sarah Warren, Sr., Defender, Hinsdale South

Emma Rigby, Jr., Goalie, Waubonsie Valley

Third team

Emily Gaither, Sr., Forward, Manteno
Lauren Gierman, Sr., Forward, Hersey
Esme Kline, Jr., Forward, Young
Allison Kruk, Sr., Forward, St. Edward

Kaily Bruch, Jr., Midfielder, Glenbrook South
Mackenzie Fuller, Sr., Midfielder, Waubonsie Valley
Sofia Pavon, Jr., Midfielder, Lane
Taryn Yakubowski, So., Midfielder, Huntley

Lexi Cesario, Sr., Defender, Lincoln-Way North
Drew Wentzel, Sr., Defender, Conant

Kendra Sheehan, Sr., Goalie, St. Charles East

As great these teams were, the reality is many high-level players, who had great individual seasons and played on elite teams and are going to play at a high level in college, were left off. As a point of comparison, the all-state teams selected by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) had 80 all-state players, of whom nearly 50 are players from the Sun-Times' coverage area.

More than 20 players deemed all-state by the coaches were left off the Sun-Times' All-Area team. Here is a comprehensive of the other standouts this spring in girls soccer, listed alphabetically by their primary position.

Forwards: Olivia Amdur, Jr., Parker; Maggie Armstrong, Jr., New Trier; Jessica Bianchi, Jr., York; Erin Fitzgerald, Sr., Lyons; Darcy Cunningham, Jr., St. Charles East; Chelsea Gnan, Jr., St. Edward; Mia Hollingsworth, Jr., Libertyville; Emily Kellow, Jr., Deerfield; Gianna Marconi, Sr., Downers North; Jenny McKendry, So., Lake Forest; Aleksandra Mihailovic, Jr. Lemont; Sarah Mullen, So., Northside; Caroline Murphy, Sr., Fenwick; Sam O'Brien, Sr., West Aurora; Brittany Paganucci, So., Glenbard East; Rachel Pappas, So., Lincoln-Way North; Alliyah Parker, Fr., Warren; Lexi Pelafas, Jr., Wheaton North; Olivia Peters, So., Glenbrook South; Maggie Roe, Fr., Waubonsie Valley; Sophia Schnitzler, Sr., Manteno; Avalon Senn-Raemont, Sr., McHenry; Sara Stevens, Sr., Plainfield North; Tess Trinka, Sr., Oak Park-River Forest; Savanah Uveges, Sr., South Elgin; Natalie Wade, Jr., Lane; Maura Walsh, Sr., St. Ignatius

Midfielders: Lia Baldo, Sr., Loyola; Katie Baumann, Sr., Benet; Molly Cahill, Sr., New Trier; Leah Celarek, Jr., Conant; Alison Cerny, Sr., Hinsdale Central; Michele Chernesky, Jr., Mundelein; Erin Chynoweth, Jr., Plainfield North; Sammi Farkos, Sr., Homewood-Floosmoor; Celia Frei, Jr., New Trier; Bianca Galassini, Fr., Lincoln-Way North; Skylar Groth, Sr., Buffalo Grove; Amanda Hilton, Sr., St. Charles East; Carly Hoke, Jr., Lake Forest; Tori Iatarola, Sr., Loyola; Alexis Jakuszewski, Jr., WW South; Abby Joyce, Sr., Naperville Central; Alyssa Kovatchis, Jr., York; Morgan Kemerling, Sr., Waubonsie Valley; Corey Lepoudre, Sr., St. Edward; Kyleigh Maday, Sr., Providence; Carrie Madden, Sr., Barrington; Bella Manobianco, Jr., Northside; Michelle Morefield, Sr., Benet; Abigail Nordeen, Sr., Huntley; Hannah Ondrey, Sr., Manteno; Nicole Niro, Sr., Barrington; Emily Osoba, Sr., Sandburg; Mary Rose Pettenuzzo, Sr., Prospect; Monica Ramirez, Sr., St. Edward; Alex Ruffer, Sr., Glenbard East; Jessica Schmidt, Sr., Maine South; Emily Scianna, Fr., Lincoln-Way East; Alena Sidwell, Jr., Metea Valley; Annie Waldoch, Sr., Geneva; Margaret Zahrah, Sr., Young

Defenders: Alyssa Cantore, Sr., Glenbard West; Sarah Connors, Sr., New Trier; Jamie Donahue, Jr., Evanston; Ali Fanning, Sr., Prairie Ridge; Ava Fickle, So., WW South; Taylor Fuderer, Sr., Glenbrook South; Sydney Gountounas, Sr., Andrew; Sydney Johnston, Sr., Lake Forest; Maureen Kerr, Jr., Evanston; Lori Niehaus, Sr., Downers South; Megan O'Leary, Sr., St. Charles North; Kaitlyn McCurley, Sr., Lake Zurich; Brooke Polonus, Jr., Plainfield North; Eden Pritikin, Jr., Latin; Mary Rounce, Sr., Downers North; Katie Sandecki, Sr., Carmel; Nikia Smith, Sr., Bolingbrook; Alexis Strothers, Sr., Warren; Margaret Tuckey, Sr., Lake Zurich; Meredith Tunney, Jr., Naperville Central

Goalies: Amy Annala, Sr., Oswego; Fiona Baenziger, Jr., Naperville North; Lidia Breen, Jr., Lyons; Bethany Dombkowski, Sr., Lincoln-Way North; Paige Dykstra, Jr., St. Edward; Kelly Fritz, Sr., Lemont; Emily O'Grady, Sr., Maine South; Michelle Loyo, Jr., St. Ignatius; Hannah Luedtke, Jr., Barrington; Emma Shores, Sr., Manteno; Lauren Smith, Sr., Loyola

With one state champion already crowned--Manteno in Class 1A--attention now turns to the final week of the girls soccer season as the state's large class groups meet on Tuesday to determine the state semifinalists for Class 2A and Class 3A.

Let's start with Class 3A.

At Lewis University: No. 7 Lyons versus No. 15 Lincoln-Way North
Best player: Lyons' senior Emily Lange

Breakdown: A rematch of a regular-season showdown that saw Lyons edge the Phoenix 1-0. The programs know each other well, having played in each of the last three years. Lyons (19-3) has been exceptional in the state tournament. They defeated a very good Benet team 3-0 in the sectional final. Cincinnati-recruit Lange has a potent leg and is capable of scoring anywhere on the field. Her running mate, Erin Fitzgerald (Cornell), has a size and physical advantage over just about any high school player. Lyons' backline of Grace Nasenbenny, CC Holbert, Sarah Drew and Catherine King has been stellar. Keeper Lidia Breen holds it all together. The Phoenix (21-3-1) are in wholly uncharted territory after winning its first ever sectional title over upstart Mother McAuley. The foundation of the Phoenix is offensive catalyst Brenna Stremlau and keeper Bethany Dombkowski.

At Lake Park: No. 12 St. Charles East versus No. 8 Huntley
Best player: Huntley keeper Jessica Galason

Breakdown: Overshadowed by rival St. Charles North, the Saints caught fire during the mid-season and are now playing their best soccer, despite dealing with some devastating injuries. The Saints stunned St. Charles North 2-1 in a sectional semifinal and shut out Conant 1-0 on its home field. The Saints must now slow down The Red Raiders and its skilled offensive attack led by sophomore sensation Taryn Jakubowski and senior midfielder Abigail Nordeen.

At Hersey: No. 3 Barrington versus No. 2 New Trier
Best player: (Tie) Barrington's Jenna Szczesny, New Trier's Maddie Mulford

Breakdown: An epic showdown. The best supersectional features one-loss New Trier and Barrington, which finished third in Class 3A last year, once again elevating its game in the state tournament. Junior star forward Jenna Szczesny, the Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, scored twice in the 2-1 victory over No. 5 Buffalo Grove. Szczesny has 30 goals and 15 assists. Carrie Madden and Nicole Niro are firmly incorporated into the Fillies' attack. New Trier has lost only to top-ranked Waubonsie Valley. The Trevians have regained their swagger and have been absolutely dominant in postseason, epitomized by stunning 4-0 whitewash of previous No. 4 Loyola. In recent years, New Trier has struggled emotionally after playing Loyola in sectional final. Maddie Mulford (25 goals, 11 assists), like Szczesny, is a game-changer. Sophomore Kelly Maday is outstanding and junior forward Maggie Armstrong has been excellent in the state tournament.

At Normal: No. 1 Waubonsie Valley versus Edwardsville.

Best player: Waubonsie Valley forward Kristen Dodson

Breakdown: The hardest game to analyze, given Downstate power Edwardsville, with just one loss on the season, is hard to evaluate due to the difficulty of assessing its true strength of schedule. Then again, the boys team also came in unknown last fall and walked off with the Class 3A state title. The Tigers are led by two all-state players, junior midfielder Lilly Cobb and freshman forward Abigail Crabtree. The top-ranked Warriors are riding a 24-game unbeaten streak. Waubonsie Valley (21-1-3) has won 17 consecutive games, and captured the Naperville Invitational and the Upstate Eight crossover title over St. Charles North. Auburn-recruit Dodson has 23 goals and seven assists. Mackenzie Fuller has been superb.

The Class 2A field is also a wild card because of the number of teams outside the Sun-Times' coverage area. There could be as many as three or as few as one team representing Chicago-area programs in the Final Four.

Behind Northwestern-recruit Kim Jerantowski and keeper Kelly Fritz, Lemont is playing its third supersectional in the last four years. The Indians have the somewhat daunting task of playing Normal West on its home field. Their best players are Abby Thompson and Keely Theobold.

At Concordia, Hinsdale South (18-6-1) faces Public League contender Northside. Dropped down from Class 3A, Hinsdale South has been exceptional in the state tournament, allowing just one goal through four games. The Hornets have a nice balance of experience and gifted newcomers, like freshman forward Cali Vanderplow, who scored in the sectional final over Nazareth. Courtney Cavalli and Jessica Koziol are also players to watch.

Northside won its first ever sectional title at Amundsen last week, edging Premier rival Payton 2-1. The No. 18 Mustangs have big-game experience, having qualified for the Public League city semifinals six times in the last seven years. They have played Young twice and Lane. Sophomore Sarah Mullens, junior Bella Manobianco and senior Nora O'Brien are the best players on the Mustangs.

In the lower bracket, Chatham Glenwood and Peoria Notre Dame meet in one supersectional. At Hoffman Estates, No. 13 Lake Forest meets traditional power Rockford Boylan, playing in Class 2A for the first time since the advent of the three-class system. Lake Zurich has played New Trier, Loyola, Lake Zurich and Huntley and is not likely to be phased. Senior midfielder Lucy Edwards and junior midfielder Carly Hoke are the Scouts' most dangerous offensive players.

With just one week to play in the regular season, the state tournament looms. The seedings and brackets for the Class 3A state tournament field were recently issued.

Here's an overview of the tournament.

Downers South

Top four seeds: Lyons, Hinsdale Central, Benet, Glenbard East.
Team to beat: Lyons
Darkhorse: Downers North
Best player: Lyons' Emily Lange.

Outlook: The top three seeds (Lyons, Hinsdale Central, Benet) are clearly superior to the rest of the field. Hinsdale Central has won the last two sectional titles here. The Red Devils have struggled in their offensive attack, losing four games in the last 10 days by 1-0. Lyons is the most complete team,
featuring creative playmakers and an excellent defense and keeper in Lidia Breen.


Top four seeds: Lincoln-Way North, Sandburg, Andrew, Lincoln-Way East
Team to beat: Sandburg
Darkhorse: Bloom
Best player: Sandburg's Emily Osoba

Outlook: Lincoln-Way North coach Mike Murphy's Phoenix secured the top seed, though defending sectional champion Sandburg holds a slight edge because of its greater history and depth of experience. Host Andrew has the home-field advantage. How good is Bloom? The Blazing Trojans, the No. 8 seed, have just one loss, but their level of competition is not at the same level.


Top four seeds: St. Charles North, Conant, Geneva, St. Charles East
Team to beat: St. Charles North
Darkhorse: Fremd
Best player: St. Charles North's Sophie Pohl

Outlook: Host and No. 2 seed Conant beat St. Charles North, but that was in March. North Stars have talent, athleticism, great individual talent and high-level experience. Conant counters with junior Leah Celarek. Geneva is also dangerous. St. Charles East played rival St. Charles North to a draw last month.

Rockford Auburn

Top four regional seeds: The four-region quadrant features respective No. 1 seeds: South Elgin, Huntley, McHenry, Harlem.
Team to beat: Huntley
Darkhorse: Cary-Grove
Best player: Huntley's Jessica Galason

Outlook: With Barrington moved out of the sectional and Rockford Boylan moving down to Class 2A, this the most wide open of the Chicago-area fields. Huntley gets the edge because of its schedule, having already played New Trier, St. Charles North, Lake Zurich and Hersey.


Top four seeds: Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Lake Zurich, Hersey
Team to beat: Barrington
Darkhorse: Glenbrook South
Best player: Buffalo Grove's Kelli Zickert

Outlook: With four ranked teams, including two in the top five, this stands with Naperville North as the deepest field in the state. A year after both reached the Final Four, Buffalo Grove and Barrington are now in the same sectional. Buffalo Grove defeated No. 2-seed Barrington 3-2 last month. Hersey beat Barrington and played Bison to a draw. Hersey amazingly did not allow a goal in 11 conference games. Lake Zurich dominated the North Suburban conference. With excellent sophomore Olivia Peters, Glenbrook South is the best No. 5 seed around. A key is the availability of Buffalo Grove keeper Sarah O'Connor, currently out with a concussion.

Maine South

Top four seeds: New Trier, Loyola, Evanston, Maine South
Team to beat: New Trier
Darkhorse: Young
Best player: New Trier's Maddie Mulford

Outlook: New Trier and Loyola have dominated this sectional and are poised to meet again, if the seeds hold. New Trier beat the Ramblers 1-0 at the PepsiCo Showdown. Third-seeded Evanston lost to New Trier and Loyola 1-0. Public League powers Lane and Young inexplicably were grouped in regional semifinal. Winner of that game could go on run.

Naperville North

Top four seeds: Waubonsie Valley, Plainfield North, Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley
Team to beat: Waubonsie Valley
Darkhorse: Naperville North
Best player: Plainfield North's Heather Handwork

Outlook: Quite simply, the standard for excellence. Six of the last nine winners of the large-school state championship originated from this sectional. Top-ranked Waubonsie Valley, the state's hottest team, is unbeaten in its last 20 matches. Handwork, of Plainfield North, is one of the top-rated players in the country. Behind Jenna Kentgen, Metea Valley has tied Waubonsie Valley and beaten Neuqua Valley and Naperville North. Two-time defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North is dangerous with home field advantage and more important, a healthy Abbie Boswell.