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  2015 Girls' Season Preview         

  By Aaron Brown

 

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Fenwick reclaimed the state title in 2014 but will face an uphill battle to defend it with several new faces in their starting lineup. They will face a variety of challengers, as teams like St Ignatius, Stevenson, Naperville North, Mother McAuley, Naperville Central and many others will be looking to make a run at the state championship.

 

Let's take a closer look at some of the top teams in the state of Illinois on the girls' side in 2015:


1. FENWICK

Head Coach: Jack Wagner

Key Players: Catie Wallace, Claire Durkin, Eryn Kulik, Jillian Wickham, Kelly Frumkin, Shannon Forst

Players to Watch: Arianna Dakuras, Theresa Mullen

Goalkeeper: Anna Sullivan

Final 2014 Ranking: 1st

 

2014 Verdict: Fenwick won the Catholic League title, claimed the LT Sectional, then beat Naperville North, Mother McAuley, and St Ignatius to win the state championship in 2014. They finished the season with a 32-2 mark, with both losses coming against teams from outside of Illinois.

 

Outlook: The young and talented Friars have their work cut out for them if they hope to repeat as champions, but don't be surprised if Fenwick is back in the winner's circle by season's end. Wallace will undoubtedly lead the offense, but the rest of the cast of newcomers should make their presence felt as the season rolls on. Until the rest of the crowded field of challengers can prove they can beat Fenwick, the Friars start the season in the top spot with their sights set on repeating as champions.


2. STEVENSON

Head Coach: Jeff Wimer

Key Players: Allison Travetto, Annika Hotchkiss, Erin Kempers, Joanie Newland, Melissa Gartenberg

Players to Watch: Alex Adams, Autumn Hoang, Jordan Landau, Sami Weiner, Tanya Shkiler

Goalkeeper: Lauren Burns

Final 2014 Ranking: 3rd

 

2014 Verdict: Stevenson went 31-5, knocked off Mundelein to qualify for the state tournament, beat New Trier in the state quarterfinals, lost to St Ignatius in the semifinal round, then capped off their season with a 9-5 victory over Mother McAuley to claim a third-place trophy in 2014.

 

Outlook: The Patriots return their top playmakers, a goaltender, and boast so much depth that they should have plenty of optimism as they make a strong push for their first-ever IHSA state title. They gained plenty of experience in the postseason last year, winning twice in their home pool at the state tournament to finish third in Illinois. Don't be surprised if Stevenson is playing a home game for the title on the final night of the season.


3. NAPERVILLE NORTH

Head Coach: Andy McWhirter

Key Players: Caitlin Holzer, Jilian Eiken, Katie Horn, Lauren Liberio, Meredith Conway, Taylor Stoner

Player Watch: Alli Horn, Amber McClure, Elle Matern, Olivia Eiken

Goalkeeper: Christina McBride

Final 2014 Ranking: 5th

 

2014 Verdict: The Huskies went 26-1 during the regular season, won the Metea Valley Sectional, and bowed out of the state tournament in the quarterfinal round to the eventual state champions after leading at halftime.

 

Outlook: The Huskies are primed and ready for their best-ever season, which is amazing considering they ended the 2014 campaign with a 29-2 record. If they can find a goaltender to replace Kate MacDuff, the rest of the Naperville North lineup is stacked, and they could be set to challenge for their first-ever state title in 2015.


4. ST IGNATIUS

Head Coach: Mike Cashman

Key Players: Clara Lindland, Diana Fernandez, Karen Juarez, Stephania Lopez, Tara White

Players to Watch: Nina Mantich, Rosie Scannell

Goalkeeper: Jenny Stelnicki

Final 2014 Ranking: 2nd

 

2014 Verdict: The Wolfpack came up about one half shy of defending their first-ever state title; they led Fenwick 2-1 at halftime before falling 6-3 to the Friars in last year's state title game. SICP won their own sectional before earning wins over New Trier and Stevenson en route to the championship game. The finished the season with a 24-6 record.

 

Outlook: With some big-time playmakers returning to a team that followed up 2013's state title with a second-place finish, St Ignatius begins the new season as one of the main title contenders in Illinois. They will need to make up for the loss of production of graduated stars like Beca Martinez and Tammy Stelnicki, but head coach Mike Cashman has a group that could be just as good as they were in the previous two seasons come playoff time.


5. MOTHER MCAULEY

Head Coach: Vanessa Carroll

Key Players: Claire Mueller, Maggie Hennigan, Molly O'Connell, Julie Olivares, Nellie Murphy, Tess Bowens

Players to Watch: Annie Kelly, Frances Bauer

Goalkeeper: Geena Peyton

Final 2014 Ranking: 4th

 

2014 Verdict: Mother McAuley outlasted Bremen in overtime to win the Stagg Sectional last May. They went on to knock off Palatine in the state quarterfinal round before losses to Fenwick and Stevenson meant they would earn a fourth-place trophy. McAuley ended the year with a 24-9 record.

 

Outlook: The Mighty Macs return a wide variety of options that should have them eyeing another trip to the state tournament after last year's fourth-place finish. The key to their success will be finding a way to replace the production of Clare Bryar and Fran Williamson, while a strong defense and goalkeeper should give head coach Vanessa Carroll plenty of reason for optimism as McAuley looks to get right back in the thick of the title hunt this season.


6. NAPERVILLE CENTRAL

Head Coach: Jeff Plackett

Key Players: Alli Hansen, Anne Marie Gunn, Beth Ryan, Emily Westlove, Kaela Codo, Krista Drapalik

Players to Watch: Caroline Aemmer, Emily Rodgers

Goalkeeper: Faith Vandercar

Final 2014 Ranking: 6th

 

2014 Verdict: The Redhawks fell victim to a last-second, game-winning goal in the sectional finals to rival Naperville North, which ended their season. They had previously beaten Neuqua and Waubonsie in the earlier sectional rounds and ended the 2014 campaign with a 27-6 mark.

 

Outlook: Naperville Central came so close to getting back to the state tournament for the seventh straight time before losing at the buzzer in the sectional finals to Naperville North. The Redhawks have a lot of promising young talent to join an already strong lineup, so don't be surprised if their hiatus from the state tournament doesn't last very long.


7. NEW TRIER

Head Coach: Matt Wendt

Key Players: Brittany Bishop, Kaleigh Dolan, Lauren Barrett, Maria Breen, Stephanie Jodloman

Players to Watch: Isabel Riggio, Julia Green, Maddy McVey

Goalkeeper: Keelin Frank

Final 2014 Ranking: 7th

 

2014 Verdict: New Trier finished atop the CSL South standings in the regular season before fending off Loyola to win the GBS Sectional title. The Trevians could not get past Stevenson in the quarterfinals at state and finished the season with an 18-13 record.

 

Outlook: The Trevians return most of their lineup from a team that bounced back from three straight losses at the end of the regular season to win the GBS Sectional and gain some valuable state tourney experience before bowing out of the event with a loss to Stevenson. They could be right back in the state tournament mix and will more than likely surpass the 20-win barrier with so many weapons and a goalkeeper back in the fold for head coach Matt Wendt.


8. LYONS

Head Coach: Lauren Burel

Key Players: Almasa Duheric, Caroline Walsh, Emma Hirt, Erin Yang, Julia Cohen, Sara McTigue

Players to Watch: Grace Wackerman, Olivia Land

Goalkeeper: Jessie Wittenberg/Maddie Janik

Final 2014 Ranking: 9th

 

2014 Verdict: The Lions came on strong in the postseason, avenging an overtime loss to Oak Park the previous weekend to advance to their own sectional final (where they lost to Fenwick). They also beat R-B in the sectional quarterfinals and ended the season with a 17-10 mark.

 

Outlook: Lyons battled through some injuries throughout the regular season but were able to overcome adversity to earn a critical win over Oak Park in the sectional semifinals last May. With plenty of talent and depth to go around, head coach Lauren Burel will likely have the Lions ready to challenge for a WSC title and a potential state tournament berth by the end of the 2015 season.


9. OAK PARK

Head Coach: Beth Perez

Key Players: Claire Rolfes, Genevieve Curry, Grace Martin, Jocelyn Weisman, Mia Andreoli, Maddie Wolfe

Players to Watch: Jilly Cronin, Kevan Casson

Goalkeeper: Jordin Hale

Final 2014 Ranking: 10th

 

2014 Verdict: Oak Park posted an impressive 24-2 record in the regular season and earned a shutout win over Taft in the sectional quarterfinals before dropping a one-goal decision to Lyons in the semifinal round.

 

Outlook: The Huskies' epic season was cut short by rival Lyons Township in the sectional semifinals just one week after they beat the Lions in the WSC Tournament. With some talented starters returning and Hale back in goal, expect more of the same from Oak Park this season as they will most likely have to to overcome their rivals once again when the postseason arrives.


10. EVANSTON

Head Coach: Andy Miner

Key Players: Edie Block, Honore Collins, Juliette Shesgreen, Lexa Deamont, Millie Rosen

Players to Watch: Christina Schumm, Rebecca Schumm

Goalkeeper: Olivia Everhart

Final 2014 Ranking: 8th

 

2014 Verdict: The Wildkits followed up a 12-win season with a 22-7 record and won the CSL Tournament title. They also earned postseason victories over Lane and Westinghouse before being eliminated from the postseason by St Ignatius in the UIC Sectional title game.

 

Outlook: Evanston took the girls' water polo world by storm last season, nearly doubling their win total and coming up one win short of a state tournament berth. While they did lose a large contingent of starters to graduation, there is plenty of talent left over for head coach Andy Miner, and one of the state's top goaltenders (Everhart) should make things extremely difficult for opposing offenses. Expect the Wildkits to challenge for a sectional title no matter where they end up playing in the postseason.


11. PALATINE


Head Coach: Mitch Tucker

Key Players: Caitlin McHugh, Caroline Wojtas, Jackie Kincanon, Kristen Anderson

Players to Watch: Abbey Campbell, Ashley Helminski,  Mathilde Mogenson

Goalkeeper: Tess O'Brien

Final 2014 Ranking: 12th

 

2014 Verdict: Despite finishing behind Conant in the MSL West standings in 2014, the Pirates outlasted the Cougars in the sectional final round to advance to the state tournament. Previously, they got past Meadows in the quarterfinals and survived a two-overtime thriller with rival Fremd in the semifinal round. The Pirates' season ended with a state quarterfinal loss to Mother McAuley. They finished the season with a 26-6 record.

 

Outlook: The Pirates got things done when it mattered most in the postseason last year and there is no reason to believe they won't be back in a similar position to challenge for a spot in the state tourney when May arrives. Wojtas will undoubtedly lead the offense and there is no shortage of other options at head coach Mitch Tucker's disposal, which means that Palatine could make a move into the Top 10 early on this season. Expect some epic battles with Conant for the MSL West title as well.


12. MUNDELEIN

Head Coach: Alice Denny

Key Players: Denise Casali, Ellie Wingender, Emily Garcia, Lauren Blake, Sasha Levin

Players to Watch: Jahnvi Modi, Margaret Bellinder, Megan Murphy, Tara Lawson

Goalkeeper: Emily Dodd

Final 2014 Ranking: 11th

 

2014 Verdict: The Mustangs battled through injuries last season to earn sectional victories over BG and Wheeling before dropping out of the postseason via a loss to Stevenson. Mundelein went 20-12 in 2014.

 

Outlook: Mundelein seemed to have an up-and-down season in 2014, yet they still were able to earn 20 wins and ended up one win shy of a repeat trip to the state tournament. There is plenty of talent returning for new head coach Alice Denny, so expect Mundelein to be right back in the mix for another state tournament appearance when the postseason arrives.


13. CONANT


Head Coach: Justin Bickus

Key Players: Carmen Rosas, Emily Weingart, Miranda Fenlon, Sam Wooley, Shannon Maloney

Players to Watch: Barbra Smigla, Claire Rosas, Keri Keppler, Nicole Mihaylova, Paulina Chowaniec

Goalkeeper: Maddy Demaret

Final 2014 Ranking: 13th

 

2014 Verdict: The Cougars finished the regular season with a perfect record in the MSL West; they were stunned by an overtime loss to Wheeling in the MSL title game and then were left disappointed by a sectional final loss to Palatine after beating the Pirates twice in the regular season. Nevertheless, Conant ended the campaign with a 26-7 record, their best season in team history.

 

Outlook: Conant should be able to pick up where they left off with both Demaret and Rosas back to lead the way. The key for a motivated Cougars team will be the postseason, where they could end up facing the same Palatine and/or Wheeling squads that beat them at the end of last season. They will have to overcome those memories if they hope to claim an MSL title and their first state tournament berth in team history.


14. SANDBURG

Head Coach: Sofia Pappanastos

Key Players: Caitlyn Olson, Katherine Flaherty, Mary Mangila, Sarah Dolitsky, Stephanie Pappas

Players to Watch: Clare Lawlor, Mara O'Connor

Goalkeeper: Morgan Bartelment

Final 2014 Ranking: 17th

 

2014 Verdict: Sandburg battled through adversity throughout the 2014 campaign and nearly shocked Bremen in the sectional semifinal round before losing by one goal. Prior to that, they earned a win over Curie in the sectional quarterfinals at Stagg. The Eagles went 21-10 and finished atop the SWSC Blue standings last season.

 

Outlook: The Eagles might be one of the most underrated teams in the state to start the season; don't be surprised if the solid cast of returning players helps Sandburg makes an early move into the Top 10, challenge for another SWSC Blue title, and make a deep postseason run.


15. LOYOLA


Head Coach: Kim Przekota

Key Players: Claire Voss, Ellie Murphy, Julia Sajnaj, Megan Murtagh, Siobhan Murphy

Player to Watch: Andrea Hitt, Emma Kyle, Hannah Rapp, Kristen Bagley

Goalkeeper: Meg Dixon

Final 2014 Ranking: 16th

 

2014 Verdict: The Ramblers came up just one goal shy of another state tournament appearance, losing a heartbreaker to New Trier in the GBS Sectional final. They had dispatched of GBS and Maine East in the earlier rounds and ended the season with a 19-13 mark.

 

Outlook: Loyola nearly earned a repeat trip to the state tournament after another consistent season. The Ramblers should be back in a similar position under new head coach Kim Przekota, who will likely call on a balanced offensive attack to replace the production of Marta Considine. Expect the Ramblers to put up a fight for a Catholic League title and don't be surprised if the season comes down to a battle with New Trier for another state tournament berth.


16. WHEELING

Head Coach: Bob Savitt

Key Players: Adrianne Rozmus, Argelia Diaz, Shannon Richards, Theresa Godlewski, Paulina Stolarska

Players to Watch: Adrianna Passannante, Julianna Isayeva

Goalkeeper: Jenna Pink

Final 2014 Ranking: 20th

 

2014 Verdict: The Wildcats won the MSL title game to cap off a fine regular season and came up just one goal short of an appearance in the sectional title game, losing to Mundelein 10-9 in the semifinal round. Wheeling also defeated Vernon Hills in the sectional quarterfinals and went 20-10 in 2014.

 

Outlook: It will be difficult to top last season's 20-win, MSL title-winning performance, but the Wildcats have nearly everyone back in the starting lineup and could be set to enjoy their best season in team history in 2015. Godlewski will once again be the featured scorer for head coach Bob Savitt, but expect an even stronger performance from the rest of the squad that could help get Wheeling to their first-ever state tournament.


17. LINCOLN-WAY EAST


Head Coach: Ryan Lodes

Key Players: Abby Olivieri, Keara Flaherty, Julia Esparza, Kylie Konstanty, Theresa DiGiovanni, Zoe Spada

Players to Watch: Mia DeTella, Natalie Collins, Nicole McCabe, Rachel Michalik, Regan Sandberg

Goalkeeper: Brennah Hasty

Final 2014 Ranking: 14th

 

2014 Verdict: The Griffins went 24-6 in 2014 and finished atop the SWSC Blue standings by the end of the regular season. They grabbed sectional wins over Bradley and LWN before getting past Andrew in the LWC Sectional finals to advance to the state tournament. East fell at the hands of St Ignatius in the state quarterfinal round the next weekend.

 

Outlook: East lost a large contingent of seniors from last year's epic postseason run, but there is plenty of reason for optimism as a vast array of young talent looks set to make an immediate impact for head coach Ryan Lodes' team. Things won't be easy for the Griffins, as they have plenty of rivals within the SWSC looking to dethrone them, but their postseason experience from a year ago could see them in line for a return trip to state by season's end.


18. LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL


Head Coach: Karen Desruisseaux

Key Players: Alli Ramirez, Cailey Davern, Delaney Shepard, Kenzie Applequist, Kim Bernhard

Players to Watch: Erin Muellerschoen, Madison Brown, Nikki Howe

Goalkeeper: Abby McCormick

Final 2014 Ranking: 19th

 

2014 Verdict: Despite going through a bit of a rebuilding year after a second-place finish in 2013, the Knights still managed to post a 16-14 record and came up one win shy of getting to the title game of their own sectional. They knocked off H-F in the sectional quarterfinals before being eliminated from the postseason by Andrew in the semifinal round.

 

Outlook: While the Knights lost a few more players from their amazing 2013 season, they still have an abundance of talent at their disposal. They should be able to challenge for the SWSC Red title and another state tournament berth in 2015 after missing out on last season's event.


19. ANDREW

Head Coach: Mike Kuziel

Key Players: Alexys Knight, Aoife Burke, Beth Koson, Caily Friel, Natalia Bak, Deanna Koeckritz

Player to Watch: Breanna Sol, Cailey Pietrzyk, Katie Kalvelage, Valerie McEldowney, Valerie Scardine

Goalkeeper: Catherine Stouffer

Final 2014 Ranking: 18th

 

2014 Verdict: The T-Bolts came up one win and just a few goals short of their first-ever state tourney berth, as they lost 9-5 to LWE in the sectional final game at LWC. In the earlier rounds, Andrew defeated both LWC and Marian to get to the title game. The T-Bolts finished the 2014 campaign with a SWSC Red title and an impressive 23-6 record.

 

Outlook: Andrew has been one of the most consistent teams over the first half of the decade, so it would be wise to expect more of the same from head coach Mike Kuziel's squad. The T-Bolts will have to sort out who will pick up the scoring slack after losing Megan Hofer's offensive production, but there are a wide variety of options for what looks like one of the most balanced teams in the state.


20. NEUQUA VALLEY

Head Coach: Lucy Tiffin

Key Players: Amanda Brockmeier, Catherine Carroll, Morgan Miller, Nicole Walsh, Sarah Neary

Players to Watch: Wyli Erlechman, Zoe Salafitanos

Goalkeeper: Issi French

Final 2014 Ranking: 25th

 

2014 Verdict: Neuqua Valley defeated Metea Valley in the sectional quarterfinals before falling at the hands of Naperville Central in the semifinal round. The Wildcats ended the 2014 season with an 11-16 record.

 

Outlook: The Wildcats look to have the pieces in place to rebound from last year's up-and-down season, which saw them dip below the .500 mark by the end of the campaign. Expect much more from some of the talented returnees and some new faces with an abundance of potential.


21. STC NORTH


Head Coach: Nick Engel

Key Players: Brittany Veto, Katie Difiglio, Katie Quinn, Kristen Kowaleski, Lucy Tykal, Monica Guyett

Players to Watch: Audrey Guyett, Katie Steele

Goalkeeper: Claire Rich

Final 2014 Ranking: 21st

 

2014 Verdict: The North Stars outlasted Hinsdale Central in a sectional quarterfinal battle before losing to Naperville North in the semifinal round. North went 18-8-1 in 2014.

 

Outlook: STC North has plenty of solid options returning on both ends of the pool along with some promising young talent, so they should be in line to improve upon last season's 18-win performance. The North Stars earned a huge postseason victory to cap off their season before bowing out of the playoffs to the sectional winners. They will be a dangerous postseason matchup for whoever they come up against.


22. LINCOLN-WAY NORTH

Head Coach: Kendra Will

Key Players: Caitlin Nelson, Cassidy DeGraff, Emily Cheshire, Haley Klosak, Jessica Larson, Liz Brtis

Players to Watch: Emily Costella, Emma Henley, Julia Porco, Mia Sterchele, Reis Parkinson

Goalkeeper: Laura Wolf

Final 2014 Ranking: 31st

 

2014 Verdict: The Phoenix got past Lincoln-Way West in the sectional quarterfinals at LWC but lost in the following round to eventual sectional winner Lincoln-Way East 11-6. North battled to a 12-16 record in 2014.

 

Outlook: North has talent, experience, depth, and some young talent that could put them in a position to fight for the SWSC Red and a state tournament berth in 2015. The Phoenix should be able to flip their record around as they prepare for some epic rivalry games with the other three Lincoln-Way schools and the rest of the SWSC.


23. FREMD

Head Coach: Ray Roth

Key Players: Emma Hoffman, Kayla Helsdingen, Megan Younker, Nicole Degla, Nicole Warnstedt

Players to Watch: Jessica Islas-Parker, Karolina Urban, Shae Taylor, Tami Carlson

Goalkeeper: Emma Jeronimus

Final 2014 Ranking: 23rd

 

2014 Verdict: Despite finishing with a 13-17 record last season, the Vikings defeated St Viator in the sectional quarterfinals and took the eventual sectional winners (Palatine) to double-overtime before losing 10-9 to their rivals in the semifinal round.

 

Outlook: The Vikings battled through a tough regular season and seemed to put things together when the playoffs came around. That should give head coach Ray Roth plenty of reason for optimism as the Vikings have plenty of options returning to challenge for an MSL West title and a possible return to the state tournament.


24. PROSPECT

Head Coach: Natalie Tucker

Key Players: Ellie McGough, Gracie Dix, Michaela Malone, Michelle Vuong, Molly Mueller, Niki Neumann

Players to Watch: Abby Younger, Danielle McCallister

Goalkeeper: Lauren Broz

Final 2014 Ranking: 27th

 

2014 Verdict: Prospect finished in second place in the MSL East standings last season and improved from 8-13 to 14-11 in 2014. They were eliminated from the postseason by New Trier in the quarterfinal round at GBS last May.

 

Outlook: The Knights returns nearly everyone from a team that has drastically improved over the past two seasons. Expect more of the same from head coach Natalie Tucker's side, as Prospect will likely have some epic battles with Wheeling as the teams do battle for the MSL East title.


25. YORK


Head Coach: Mark Giuliani

Key Players: Carli York, Ellie Fitzpatrick, Grace Achepohl, Grace Feilen, Izzy Gil, Sarino Kao

Player to Watch: Mary Phelps

Goalkeeper: Maddie Kliebahn/Sarah Lewand

Final 2014 Ranking: 28th

 

2014 Verdict: The Dukes defeated Morton in the sectional quarterfinal round last May before losing to the eventual state champions (Fenwick) in the next round. York ended the 2014 campaign with a 16-16 record.

 

Outlook: York should be right back in the thick of the West Suburban Conference title race and should be able to continue their upward trajectory after posting a sixteen-win season in 2014. The Achepohl-led defense will be solid, so the key for head coach Mark Giuliani's squad will be finding the offensive production to replace a handful of graduated seniors.


 

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