After an interesting and dramatic first two rounds, the Pepsi Showdown moves to the quarterfinal phase Saturday. The four games are set to be played, consecutively, beginning at noon, at Olympic Park, in Schaumburg. The forecast is hot, windy and rainy, which possibly could only add to the unpredictability.
Seven of the eight teams are ranked in the Sun-Times' current poll.
Metea Valley, fourth-ranked by the Sun-Times, is the top-seed. The Mustangs (11-1) meet Stevenson (5-2-1) in the first game. Metea Valley already owns impressive victories over No. 5 Neuqua Valley and No. 12 York. Their only loss was a 1-0 decision to No. 10 Waubonsie Valley.
The Mustangs have some serious offensive firepower with Jenna Kentgen, who had five goals in the first-round game with Plainfield East, Holy Krol and Tina Tomaras, a superb facilitator who orchestrates the attack. (She had four assists in the same game against Plainfield East.) Equally important, Metea Valley has a keeper supreme in Megan Geldernick. She was withstood a barrage of shots from York that enabled the Mustangs to win on penalty kicks.
Stevenson is coming off the most dramatic second-round match up, a 5-4 overtime victory over York, that marked the only true upset of the second round. (The rest of the seeds held up.) Jenna Weiner's goal punched the Patriots' ticket to the quarterfinals. Olivia Whalen scored twice in the topsy-turvy game against York.
For many reasons, the most interesting game is certain to be New Trier and Loyola. The No. 3 Trevians are 9-0. With the addition of Jessica Weaver, a transfer from Pennsylvania, their attack is jet-propelled. "Our attack is insane right now," junior forward Jessie Berman said. Forward Aly Marzonie, forward Maddie Mulford, midfielder Emily Miller and forward Rachel Shellenback have also excelled. Defensively, the Trevians are have stout with defenders Tricia Lybrook and Sarah Connors and keeper Emma Schaff.
The No. 7 Ramblers (10-0-1) have also impressed, allowing a stunning one goal in their first 11 games. Junior keeper Brittany San Roman has been superb, supported by a long and rangy backline led by junior Corey Burns. Senior forward Meeghan Smith starred in the second-round victory over Hersey, scoring a goal and setting up sophomore Margaret Walker's goal on a beautiful spin and pirouette move.
The game will mark the first in-season game of the North Shore rivals since 2005. "We played the last three years in the sectional [finals]," Loyola coach Craig Snower said. "We've won once, and they've won twice, and the cumulative score of the games is 3-3. That tells you how close we've been." One final level of extra intrigue: Snower is the coach of the U-17 club program FC United that features many players from both schools.
The third game is No. 12 Elk Grove (7-0-1) against No. 19 Lake Forest (7-2-1). Rachel Pruim and Kelly Naughton scored in the Grens' 2-1 second-round win over Wheaton North. The Grens have a big, imposing attack featuring Kelli Hubly and suffocating defense led by Notre Dame-bound Katie Naughton. The Scouts have allowed just 11 goals in seven games, keyed senior defender Marina Katz and sophomore Lucy Edwards. Sisters Kendall Hoke and Carly Hoke are emerging stars.
In the nightcap, No. 8 Plainfield North (10-1-1) takes on No. 18 Lockport (7-2). Behind do-everything star Callie O'Donnell, the Tigers have been on a roll, pummeling the opposing. They have one of the most impressive wins in the tournament, a 2-0 victory over No. 11 Lyons on Thursday. Considered the best of the south suburbs to start the year, Lockport started out slowly after star Lexi Cozzi missed the first couple of games. The Porters have been on a roll, winners of six straight and owing impressive wins over No. 20 Lincoln-Way North, Maine South and a very good Lake Zurich team. Cortney Jerzy was the star in that game, scoring in regulation and making the game-winning shot during the penalty kick phase. Junior keeper Alyssa Deyoung is also dynamite.