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Girls soccer preview: Glenbard North, West Chicago look to contend in tough conferences

Glenbard North's Ashley Pogue makes a play on the ball during a game against West Chicago last season. Pogue scored 12 goals last year and is expected to be the leader on offense this year.
Glenbard North's Ashley Pogue makes a play on the ball during a game against West Chicago last season. Pogue scored 12 goals last year and is expected to be the leader on offense this year.

With a little luck of the Irish, girls soccer teams across the state will be kicking off the season on March 17, the first day games can be played. Here’s the outlook for area teams as the season gets underway.

Glenbard North Panthers

Coach: David Stanfield

2013 record: 11-8-2

Top players:

Arianna Callard jr.

Arianna DePinto jr.

Marissa Ferreri sr.

Emily Merkle sr.

Rachel McDonnell sr.

Jazmine Pina sr.

Ashley Pogue sr.

Outlook: Glenbard North is coming off a very successful 2013 season and has the pieces in place to build off that campaign. The Panthers lost just four players from a group that won 11 matches a year ago.

“We hope to build on [our possession game], with quick transitions from defense to attack and back,” head coach David Stanfield said. “This is perhaps the deepest we have in my nine years as the girls varsity coach.”

Ashley Pogue returns up front to spearhead the offense after posting 12 goals last year. Rachel McDonnell and Arianna Callard combined to find the back of the net nine times in 2012. Emily Dybowski, Katie Frye and Jamie Scott could also be threats.

The defense is a veteran group and is led by returning goalie Airanna DePinto.

Glenbard North was 3-3-1 in the DuPage Valley Conference a year ago and looks to better that mark this time around.

“As always, the DVC will be extremely tough,” Stanfield said, “but, injuries notwithstanding, I believe we can give any team in the DVC a tough game.”

West Chicago Wildcats

Coach: J. Cesar Gomez

2013 record: 11-10-3

Top players:

Maddie Aguilar So. M

Karen Ibarra so. D

Kayla Kirkwood jr. M

Jessie Maldonado so. D

Stephanie Mata jr. M

Shelly Molskow sr. D

Gaby Navejas so. GK

Ally Oglanian so. F

Itza Salazar so. G

Alexa Vega so. D

Outlook: On one hand, the departure of leading scorer Andie Lazzerini to graduation leaves a definite hole. But on the other hand, the Wildcats return a core of 10 players with valuable varsity experience.

With eight freshmen on the roster in 2013, West Chicago was a young team. That is the case again this year with only one senior and three juniors on the squad.

“We have a lot of sophomores,” coach J. Cesar Gomez said. “We will compete. We are a possession team. We don’t just want to kick it, we have to pass the ball around. And we will be in your face on defense and try to make life difficult.”

Replacing Lazzerini’s production will fall to a host of players, including forwards Kayla Kirkwood and Ally Oglanian. Gaby Navejas returns in goal while fellow sophomore Itza Salazar could also see time in the net.

This spring marks the first year in the Upstate Eight conference for the Wildcats, who move over from the DVC.

“We’ve seen good competition before with teams like Naperville Central, Naperville North and Hinsdale Central,” Gomez said. “I think it’s going to be good for us.”

Wheaton Academy Warriors

Coach: Dave Underwood

2013 record: 10-10-3

Top players:

Eaden Bond sr. D

Gabbi LaMantia so. M

Abby Olson sr. F

Molly Thorson jr. D

Outlook: The Warriors were an extremely young team in 2013 with only five seniors on a roster that included five freshmen and eight sophomores.

This time around, Wheaton Academy brings back 15 varsity players with experience, including nine starters.

“I am really excited about this team,” Wheaton Academy coach Dave Underwood said. “I feel like we have good experience and, additionally, the girls had probably the best off-season we have had in years.

Abby Olson is back to lead the offense after scoring 12 goals last spring. Sophomores Julia Della Torre and Jamie Netzley should also be threats to find the back of the net while Gabbi LaMantia moves from defense to the midfield to be a distributor. Molly Thorson and Eaden Bond anchor the defense in front of second-year starting goalie Julia McKee.

“We will be better than last year,” the coach said. “How much better? I don’t know. We struggled to score goals last year, so if we can create good opportunities and put the ball in the back of the net we will be pretty solid.”

The team is competing in the Suburban Christian conference for the last time with the school moving to the Metro Suburban conference in 2014-15. Rosary is the defending champs.

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