A new month brings the start of the girls season. The IHSA formally permits the beginning of practice this week for the girls' season. Many programs are staging tryouts and launching the start of the new season.
Weather permitting, there are some dynamite games the opening week of the season, beginning in the middle of the month. Two-time defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North is scheduled to play two teams from last year's state finals, Barrington and Hinsdale Central, in the opening week of the season.
The Huskies graduated two-times All-area star Zoe Swift, who scored both goals in the Huskies' 2-1 victory over Hinsdale Central in the state championship last June at North Central. Coach Steve Goletz must also contend with the loss of his two other captains, crucial three-year starters Christa Szalach and Cora Climo.
The biggest story surrounding the Huskies' three-peat hopes is predicated on the health of star Abbie Boswell, the state's top junior. Boswell had an extraordinary sophomore campaign in scoring 27 goals and administering 10 assists for the 22-0-2 Huskies. She also had knee surgery last September.
Naperville North returns two other excellent midfielders in senior Meghan Lee and junior Claire Hilburger, tough, experienced players, and star junior keeper Fiona Baenziger, who allowed just 16 goals in 24 games last year.
Even with the graduation losses, Naperville North looks to be formidable.
Defending Class 3A third-place finisher Barrington is another team to watch. Coach Ryan Stengren must replace one of the greatest players in school history, current Marquette player Molly Pfeiffer. If Boswell is the state's best junior, the electrifying and fast forward Jenna Szczesny is right behind her. She scored 24 goals last year in leading the Fillies.
She heads a superb junior class that also features star keeper Hannah Luedtke and midfielders Megan Fox and Kelsey Muniz. Seniors Elli Ackermann and Mia Calamari are also very skilled.
The Fillies defeated MSL rival Buffalo Grove in the third-place game. It was a disappointing to an extraordinary year for the Bison, who won the Pepsi Showdown and advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in more than two decades.
Astonishingly, Pat Dudle had just three seniors on his entire roster. He returns virtually his entire team, led by All Area star Kelli Zickert, who scored 31 goals and had 11 assists for the 25-win Bison last year. Her twin sister Colleen is also back, as are Allie Ingham, Jessica Kovach and Sara Busse.
Hinsdale Central coach Michael Smith proved himself one of the rising stars in his field, and the Red Devils
That's just last year's Class 3A semifinalists. Waubonsie Valley, Loyola, New Trier, Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central, Plainfield North, Lockport, Sandburg and Hersey also return loaded and dangerous players from a year ago. It looks to be a great season.
In the city, Lane has a new coach, Michelle Vale-Suarez, and a stacked lineup, led by Sofia Pavon and a great junior class headed by Natalie Wade. Payton won a Class 2A sectional title and Young is always dangerous. Defending Class 1A state runner-up Parker features the prolific and very skilled Olivia Amdur.
For soccer fans, that wait is nearly over.