Sun-Times top girls soccer teams, individuals

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Top 20 teams

1. New Trier: “Each season is an adventure unto itself,” coach Jim Burnside said. In addition to seven returning starters and several top rotation players, the Trevians welcome back elite midfielder Jessica Ritchie from club play.

2. Waubonsie Valley: The Warriors return multiple starters from a 23-win, third-place state finisher that dealt New Trier its only loss. Iowa-recruit Morgan Kemerling, sophomore Maggie Roe and dynamic CiCi Gazder are joined by elite junior Paige Filipek, out last year with injury. Emma Rigby is an elite keeper.

3. Barrington: Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year Jenna Szczesny (30 goals, 15 assists) leads a 19-win supersectional finalist that also features elite midfielder Ann Nicole Niro (Notre Dame) and standout keeper Hannah Luedtke.

4. Naperville North: Senior forward Abbie Boswell (Ball State) is one of the top players in the state. Attacker Olivia Stapleton and superb keeper Fiona Baenziger are the other standouts.

5. St. Charles East: Coach Paul Jennison returns six starters and several key reserves from a Class 3A state runner-up. Senior forward Darcy Cunningham is an elite scorer, joined by forward Sophie Jendrzeczyk, sophomore midfielder Claire Rasmussen and top defender Sara Buetow.

6. Plainfield North: The Tigers lack the superstars (Ashley and Heather Handwork) of recent years though still have strong individual talent with midfielder Erin Chynoweth and breakout junior midfielder Sam Elster. Brooke Polonus and Megan Gill anchor the strong backline.

7. Neuqua Valley: The perennial powerhouse Wildcats are young though very talented with excellent defender Sophia Moreau, standout keeper Hannah Parrish and emerging offensive threats in Lauren Ciesla and Kiley Czerwinski.

8. Lyons: Coach Bill Lanspeary returns a defensive-oriented side from a defending supersectional qualifier led by excellent senior keeper Lidia Breen. Talented forward Margaret Lynch and midfielders Kristen Janicki and freshman Mary Devine power the offensive attack.

9. Loyola: With junior star Devin Burns out with an ACL injury, the Ramblers regroup behind elite defenders Alex Yasko and Lauren Chrisman. Junior KK Phelan is an explosive scorer.

10. Conant: Four-year starter Leah Celarek is dangerous from anywhere on the field. Kathleen Tokarz is a top defender, and Haley Anderson is an athletic keeper. Sidney O’Keefe provides another scoring option.

11. Lake Forest: The defending Class 2A state champions must replace star Lucy Edwards (DePaul) though they remain a potent offensive threat behind Jenny McKendry, Carly Hoke and Paige Bourne.

12. Hinsdale Central:The Red Devils are the top challenger to Lyons for the West Suburban Silver. Elite midfielder Sydney Griffin returns from a year away playing club, and Erin Smith is the team’s top defender. Michael Smith is one of the state’s top young coaches.

13. Naperville Central: Lately the Redhawks have been elite defensively and at preventing goals, though, have also struggled offensively. The return of senior midfielder Alison Kincaide from club rejuvenates the attack. Junior forward Kathleen Conforti and converted defender Meredith Tunney balance the attack. Returning from an ACL-injury, senior keeper Abby Hershik is a classic ball stopper.

14. Lincoln-Way North: The Phoenix stunned with its fourth-place finish in last year’s Class 3A state tournament. Junior forward Rachel Pappas (22 goals, six assists) is a skilled and versatile offensive threat, joined by emerging star, sophomore midfielder Bianca Galassini (10 goals, 13 assists) and Sarah Mirabella (nine goals). The Phoenix must make up for losses in the backline and the goal to match last year’s mark.

15. Glenbrook South: Senior midfielder Kaily Bruch is a returning third-team All-Area performer and the catalyst for the Titans’ offensive attack. Junior forward Olivia Peters is returning from a knee injury. Fully healthy, she is an offensive force and inventive scorer.

16. St. Charles North: The North Stars suffered heavy graduation losses from a 16-win sectional semifinalist. Keeper Shelby Stitz has registered 28 career shutouts. Midfielder Hanna Durocher is highly skilled, and coach Ruth Vostal has several talented underclassmen such as Amanda Czerniak and Morgan Rerko.

17. Carmel: The Corsairs are expected to battle Benet and St. Viator for supremacy in the East Suburban Catholic. Midfielder Kayla Handel keyed an early season victory over the defending Class 2A state champion. Midfielders Amanda Lasso, Mackenzie Sheehan, McKenzie Runyan and Angela Salvi are Carmel’s other top offensive threats. Megan Runyan keys the backline.

18. Benet: After playing club as a freshman, highly-regarded forward Kerry Abello (Penn State) is ready to make her impact on the high school level. She has elite size, speed and skill and is an excellent ball striker. Forwards Hanna Pfeiffer and Kate Hennessy and midfielder Ellie Bumpus vary the attack. Emma Hlavin is a first-rate keeper.

19. St Viator: The Lions feature speed and skill in their attacking formations. Freshman midfielder Brinley McVeigh is a bright talent, surrounded by Maggie Leazer, Felicia Moncada, Susie Moynihan and forwards Michelle Trovato and Delia Douglas.

20. Stevenson: The Patriots have two foundational players in midfielders, Kya Suzuki (Northwestern) and Caroline Dempsey (Washington University), and enough complimentary pieces to challenge Lake Forest in the North Suburban Lake.

Top players

Forwards: Olivia Amdur, Parker, sr.; Abbie Boswell, Naperville North, sr..; Leah Celarek, Conant, sr.; Darcy Cunningham, St. Charles East, sr.; Chelsea Gnan, St. Edward, sr.; Paige Fuller, Plainfield Central, sr.; Sophie Jendrzeczyk, St. Charles East, sr.; Emily Kellow, Deerfield, sr.; Esme Kline, Young, sr.; Kelly Maday, New Trier, jr.; Jenny McKendry, Lake Forest, jr.; Rachel Pappas, Lincoln-Way North, jr.; Alliyah Parker, Warren, so.; Lexi Pelafas, Wheaton North, sr.; Olivia Peters, Glenbrook South, jr.

Midfielders: Kaily Bruch, Glenbrook South, sr.; Michele Chernesky, Mundelein, sr.; Erin Chynoweth, Plainfield North, sr., Paige Filipek, Waubonsie Valley, jr.; Kayla Handel, Carmel, sr.; Carly Hoke, Lake Forest, sr.; Taryn Jakubowski, Huntley, jr.; Alexis Jakuszewski, Wheaton Warrenville South, sr.; Morgan Kemerling, Waubonsie Valley, jr.; Alison Kincaide, Naperville Central, sr.; Alyssa Kovatchis, York, sr..; Ann Marie Niro, Barrington, sr.; Sofia Pavon, Lane, sr.; Alena Sidwell, Metea Valley, sr.; Kya Suzuki, Stevenson, sr.

Defenders: Sara Buetow, St. Charles East, sr.; Tori Christiansen, Waubonsie Valley, sr.; Lauren Chrisman, Loyola, jr.; Brooke Janeczek, Lockport, so.; Sydney Jensen, Fenwick, sr.; Maureen Kerr, Evanston, jr.; Kayla Knauss, Hersey, sr.; Sophia Moreau, Neuqua Valley, sr.; Mary Rose Pettenuzzo, Prospect, sr.; Brooke Polonus, Plainfield North, sr.; Eden Pritikin, Latin, sr.; Erin Smith, Hinsdale Central, sr.; Alexis Strothers, Warren, sr.; Molly Thorson, Wheaton Academy, sr.; Alex Yasko, Loyola, jr.

Keepers: Abby Hershik, Naperville Central, sr.; Dani Kaufman, New Trier, jr.; Hannah Luedtke, Barrington, sr.; Emma Rigby, Waubonsie Valley, sr.: Shelby Stitz, St. Charles North, sr.

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