With a little luck of the Irish, girls soccer teams across the state will be kicking off the season on March 17. Here's the outlook for area teams as the season gets underway.
Lyons Township Lions
Coach: Bill Lanspeary
2013 record: 16-5-2, regional champs
Lidia Breen jr. G
Sarah Drew sr. D/M
Erin Fitzgerald sr. M/F
Liza Gabrek jr. D
C.C. Holbert sr. D
Catherine King sr. D
Emily Lange sr. M/F
Grace Nasenbenny sr. D
The Lions return much of the team that won 16 matches and a regional last year. Two Division I-bound seniors, Emily Lange (Cincinnati) and Erin Fitzgerald (Cornell), and most of the starting lineup is back on a team that features nine seniors.
In all, 13 field players and two goalkeepers are back. Just five new field players and sophomore goalkeeper Emily Johnson are new to the team.
"The players are certainly talking," LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. "They're talking high expectations. They're talking about winning the conference and hopefully go a bit further in the playoffs."
The Lions don't have to go far to find elite competition. Neighboring rival Hinsdale Central beat the Lions for both the West Suburban Silver crown and in the sectional final last year. The Red Devils went on to finish second in state and should be strong again.
"We looked at the tough loss to Hinsdale Central and saw how far they went and thought 'Why can't that be us?'" Lanspeary said.
LT has talent all over the field, but the strength could be its defense. Junior Lidia Breen was solid at keeper last year and senior Molly Henderson will get some time in net. Last year's starting back line of Catherine King, C.C. Holbert, Liza Gabrek and Grace Nasenbenny are all back. King suffered a torn ACL during club season last summer and was just cleared to return a few weeks ago.
Sarah Drew and Margaret Lynch both played major minutes in midfield last year.
Lange and Fitzgerald can play both midfield and forward. Varsity newcomers Katie Dougherty, a senior in her second year back with soccer after playing other spring sports for two years, and sophomore Gabbie Hart should boost the attack.
"I think those two additions along with the other players we have coming back, they complement what we have coming back nicely," Lanspeary said.
Junior Lindsey Allen and sophomores Sheila Murphy and Bridget Kirby are also newcomers.
Coach: Jim Bageanis
2013 record: 8-9-2
Shannon Fricke sr. M/F
Alyssa Garcia jr. D
Alexis Mondragon jr. M/F
Tatia Orozco jr. M
Tania Paez jr. M
The Mustangs have a balanced mix of each class on its roster, which is a nice way to say they don't expect to have a lot of seniors playing big minutes.
Morton coach Jim Bageanis thinks he will have three freshmen and four sophomores playing up with the varsity team, while only a few seniors are expected to be in the starting lineup.
"We're going to be a really young team," Bageanis said. "The practices have been very competitive, which is a good thing. It's healthy for our girls to have that competition."
Without the star power of forward Briana Keska, the Mustangs will need to find some goal scorers to replace her production. Much of the team's top returning talent is in the midfield with juniors Tania Paez and Tatia Orozco and senior Shannon Fricke.
Junior Alexis Mondragon, back after suffering a torn ACL last season, and sophomore Karen Arroyo could also play a big role in midfield.
Junior Alyssa Garcia will key the defense as a sweeper.
Morton opens up against Solorio Academy March 18 as part of the Windy City Classic. The Mustangs will also boost their non-conference scheduled by returning to the Pepsi Showdown.
Riverside Brookfield Bulldogs
Coach: Danny Makaric
2013 record: 8-12
Mariah Dorsey so.
Ashley Ferguson jr.
Anika Marchan so.
Lia Sanchez sr.
Carolina Waas sr.
Amy Zyck sr.
After having just four seniors on the roster last year, the Bulldogs will be hoping for more success this season.
Four-year varsity players Caroline Waas and Lia Sanchez and three-year varsity player Amy Zyck are three key seniors. Ashley Ferguson, Mariah Dorsey and Anika Marchan are also returners that are talented younger players.
The Bulldogs will be hoping to get over the Glenbard South hump. RB's only conference loss came against the Raiders last season.
Coach: John Nikchevich
2013 record: 12-6-1
Emily Beedie jr. D
Peggy Masterson jr. G
Kelly Renehan so. F
The Roadrunners have a lot to replace from a senior class last year that was arguably the most successful in the program's history. Nazareth brings back eight returners in the hope of continuing that success.
Junior defender Emily Beedie and junior keeper Peggy Masterson are the team's only starting returners, but other varsity returners can fill the gaps.
Up top, sophomore Kelly Renehan will look to build on a solid freshman campaign. She will need to replace much of the scoring load lost with current Purdue freshman Gianna Milaro.
Seniors Emma Holly, Jennifer Salata, Erika Morges and Marri Gragnani are also varsity returners. Freshman Claire Ramsey will be asked to play a big role on the team.
Coach: Robert Watson
2013 record: 20-6-4, 3rd in Class 2A
Momo Chapa sr. D
Colette Jaslowski so. M
Sydney Jensen jr. D
Nora Madden sr. F
Jackie Mannion sr. M
Caroline Murphy sr. F
The Friars were third in Class 2A, the highest finish in program history, last year, but much of that team is gone.
Fenwick has to replace 13 seniors, including the top four point leaders from last season. Senior forward Caroline Murphy scored nine goals last year, including one in the state semifinal, and will lead the attack this spring. Fellow seniors Nora Madden and Jackie Mannion and sophomore Colette Jaslowski each scored five goals last year.