On the eve of the state tournament, teams expecting to make deep playoff runs are trying to sharpen their games by taking part in conference tournament finals.
Payton and No. 18 Lane meet Thursday night at UIC for city supremacy.
"We want to stay sharp and ready to go, because this year, we want to go farther than any Lane team ever has in the state tournament," sophomore forward Sofia Pavon said after she scored four goals against Northside in a Public League semifinal on Tuesday.
The Indians' sophomore class is one of the strongest around. Keyed by Pavon, it also features high-scoring and versatile forward Natalie Wade, forward Anastasia Niforos and keeper Samantha DeGryse.
Wade has emerged as a strong scoring threat opposite senior forward Jasmin Carrera and Pavon. She also has showcased her range, serving as an emergency keeper after DeGryse sustained a finger injury. In the team's last nine games, she has played the second half in goal.
Chasing history: With each game, Carrera makes her bid to join the state's all-time best scorers. Carrera has 29 goals entering the Public League final. She has now scored 113 in her career. According to statistics compiled by the IHSA, she is just five goals from entering the all-time top 20 list.
The UIC-recruit is trailing Teri Atkinson, who recorded 117 career goals at Springfield from 1996 to 1999. Carrera's 113 goals trail only former Lane star Jacqueline Vera in the history of Public League players. Vera recorded school and Public League high-water marks in a season (53) and career (147).
On Wednesday night, two of the elite soccer-playing conferences, the two divisions of the Upstate Eight and Mid-Suburban League, are honoring their best with Soccer Cups.
At Buffalo Grove, the No. 2 Bison host No. 11 Barrington. "I hope Buffalo Grove comes in undefeated," Barrington coach Ryan Stengren said last week. A rapidly-improving Conant team dashed those plans when they stunned the Bison 1-0 on Saturday.
On a rainy mid-April night, Buffalo Grove beat Barrington 2-1. "I still think we're going to be good,"
Stengren said after the disappointing loss, which occurred during a difficult stretch for the Fillies.
At St. Charles North, the No. 5 North Stars, winners of the River division, host No. 4 Waubonsie Valley, champions of the Valley division, in the inaugural championship game of the Upstate Eight. The Warriors are on fire, their 3-1 championship over host Lemont in the Lemont Cup extending their current streak to eight games.
The North Stars have posted 13 shutouts and allowed just five goals in 18 games.