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Girls soccer preview: Glenbard East hopes to push to new high

Rams, Montini look to improve; Willowbrook and AT build around returners

Glenbard East's Brittany Paganucci (left) settles the ball in a game against Glenbard West last season. Paganucci's game-changing talent should provide a boost for the Rams' offense this season.
Glenbard East's Brittany Paganucci (left) settles the ball in a game against Glenbard West last season. Paganucci's game-changing talent should provide a boost for the Rams' offense this season.

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 East Rams

Coach: Kent Overbey

2013 record: 11-6-4

Top players:

Maria Berrum jr. D

Corie Ewoldt jr. D

Jordyn Fulton jr. F

Megan Mrazek jr. M

Brittany Paganucci so. F

Kelly Ravenscraft sr. D

Alex Ruffer sr. M

Outlook: The Rams have just three seniors on the roster, but that’s a little misleading. This team won’t be using youth as an excuse considering it has eight returning starters.

East brings back 11 returners in all, led by Alex Ruffer, the first Division I player the Rams’ have produced in Kent Overbey’s tenure as coach. Ruffer, a central midfielder headed for Western Michigan, will be the hub of the Rams’ attack.

“She does it all,” Overbey said. “She distributes, but she also gets into the attack. It’s great to have an athlete, but also a technical player like her.”

Joining Ruffer in the middle of midfield will be junior Megan Mrazek, who returns in that role. Those two will look to feed talented sophomore Brittany Paganucci and junior Jordyn Fulton, who played more in the midfield last year. Paganucci scored nine goals last year and is on track to be another Division I product in the program.

“She’s got all kinds of speed,” Overbey said of Paganucci. “I think her speed and her willingness to take players on on the dribble in some of these big games when you’re not seeing a ton of chances is big time. If we can find her feet she can be dangerous by herself. The sky is the limit as far as her potential goes.”

One of the big spots to fill will be at goalkeeper, where the Rams have to replace career shutout record holder Veronica Fairbairn. Juniors Haley Lydon and Rachel Anderson and sophomore Sierra Dana will compete for time and Overbey said they’ve never been deeper at the position.

Defense could be the strength of the team with returning starters Kelly Ravenscraft, Corie Ewoldt and Maria Berrum along with senior Taylor Hallcox at the back.

The Rams are hoping to climb the standings in the extremely competitive DuPage Valley Conference.

“The DVC is as hard as it’s ever been,” Overbey said. “Our goal really is to challenge for some of those top spots.”

Montini Broncos

Coach: Sue Brown

2013 record: 7-12, regional champs

Top players:

Jordan Bruscianelli jr.

Katelyn Pietras sr.

Valerie Sanchez jr.

Outlook: Led by two all-conference returners, Katelyn Pietras and Valerie Sanchez, the Broncos are hoping to build on the postseason success they enjoyed last year when they upset Lisle in a regional final.

Montini has won regionals the past two years, which are the first two regional titles the Broncos have ever won. Their schedule remains tough for a 1A team with tournaments at 3A schools Huntley and Glenbrook South.

The team had just three seniors on last year’s roster. Juniors Sanchez, Jordan Bruscianelli and Carolyn Strzempek are entering their third year on varsity. Seniors Angie Luna, Kiera Johnston, Maggie Burke, Kelsey McHugh, Courtney Losik, Bridget Lucas and Pietras also have multiple years of varsity experience.

Addison Trail Blazers

Coach: Sergio Nunez

Top players:

Maria DeSantiago so. M

Petra Kyriakopoulos so. M

Outlook: Sophomores Maria DeSantiago and Petra Kyriakopoulos were a big part of the Blazers last year and Kyriakopoulos even earned an all-conference selection in the West Suburban Gold.

Those two will try to help the Blazers push up the West Suburban Gold standings after they were just 1-5 in the league last year.

Willowbrook Warriors

Coach: Victor Marquez

Top players:

Tiffany Brinkman sr. F

Jessica Budig jr. F

Lauren Carroll sr. D

Outlook: Led by three all-conference returners, the Warriors have a chance to show some improvement this season.

The program showed progress in coach Victor Marquez’s first year, improving upon the six wins they earned in 2012 and even beating a Hinsdale South team that won a Class 2A regional. Willowbrook tied for second in the Gold with a 4-2 record.

Seniors Tiffany Brinkman and Lauren Carroll and junior Jessica Budig were all-conference in the West Suburban Gold last year. Melissa Rader would have been another all-conference returner, but she suffered an injury during basketball season.

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