DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH
The Mustangs aren't starting with a totally clean slate this season, but it's close to that.
Gone is longtime coach Barry Jacobson, who took the Mustangs to five state trophies in 29 years as head coach. Abby Anderson, who had high school coaching stints at Mother McAuley and Tinley Park and was recently an assistant at St. Xavier University, takes over as head coach.
Seven seniors have also departed from last year's third-place state team, including the top three goal-scorers — Sarrah Ludwig (29), Flo Beshiri (15) and Jessica Bronke (10). That trio and Jessica Pikul (six goals) were all captains.
"The girls who are up with the varsity team, I told them nothing is set in stone," Anderson said. "It's going to be a battle for our starting spots. I preach the idea of daily competition in practice."
Anderson, who left SXU as the program's all-time leading scorer, hopes to play an attacking brand of offensive soccer based on speed, finesse and possession, but not at the sake of defensive responsibilities. In that regard, forward Emily Wauer (the leading returning scorer with six goals and five assists), midfielder Brittany Dietz and defender Lori Niehaus, who head the group of returning players, will fill crucial roles this spring as the Mustangs look to continue their tradition of success.
"Hopefully that continues with our new coaching staff," Anderson said. "We're looking pretty balanced so far so not just one thing is standing out."
Coach: Abby Anderson
2012 record: 20-6-3
Brittany Dietz sr. M/D
Lori Niehaus jr. D
Emily Wauer jr. F
Jenny Adams so. M
Jamie Furio jr. GK
DOWNERS GROVE NORTH
An assistant coach last spring, Bob Ward steps into the role of head coach with plenty of pieces in place for a successful season.
"We lost only a few seniors. We were young last year and we're still pretty young, but we return a lot," said Ward, who estimates that 14 players return from last year's team.
The blast of winter weather last week and the expected snow this week has kept the Trojans inside on the gym floor and off the practice field so far. Indoor five-on-four drills are a far cry from actual soccer, but Calder has been able to identify a few strengths.
One is the talent up the middle of the field, where West Suburban Silver all-conference midfielder Gianna Marconi, keeper Christina Siddu and defender Kaitlin Gunderson, who joined the varsity team toward the end of last season, all return.
Also, the coach said the Trojans' overall fitness appears to be ahead of where it was last spring. In terms of goals, Ward is keeping it pretty basic until he sees exactly what his team has in a real soccer setting.
"This year I expect us to be better, but it's hard to tell right now," Ward said. "I'm not even setting goals until we have a couple of games and see how those go, and then we'll set more specific goals."
Coach: Bob Ward
2012 record: 5-12-2
Gianna Marconi jr. M
Christina Siddu sr. GK
Kaitlin Gunderson jr. D
The phrase "new-look" hardly describes the status of Westmont's girls soccer team.
The Sentinels enjoyed their best season last spring, but they lost 13 seniors from that squad. There were five sophomores and juniors on the team, but only two have come back — Brianna Gilley and Chloe Ma.
"We were in grave danger of losing the program until 11 freshmen stepped up and joined the team," coach Ron Neurauter said. "We also gained a sophomore, three more juniors, and a senior, so right now, we're right where we were last year at 18 players."
Westmont figures to go throw some growing pains with such a young and inexperienced team, though Neurauter liked the way his team was competing in early practices and the mentality they bring to the field.
"Basically we will be a JV team playing a varsity schedule in the always-strong Interstate Eight Conference," Neurauter said. "Needless to say, this is a rebuilding year. ... When we survive this season, we'll be all the better for it next year."
Coach: Ron Neurauter
2012 record: 11-8
Brianna Gilley jr. D
Chloe Ma jr. M
Hailey Lechelt jr. M
Halley Pardy fr. GK