Girls soccer: Suburban Life 2024 season preview capsules

Pleasant Plains' Caroline Willenborg (left) and IC Catholic Prep's Molly Ryan go after the ball during the IHSA Class 1A state girls soccer third place game at North Central College in Naperville.

The girls soccer season is underway. Here are previews of teams in the Suburban Life coverage area.


Coach: Gerard Oconer (eighth season)

Last year’s record: 21-5, 6-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference (first place)

Top returning players: Bailey Abbott, sr., D; Rania Fikri, sr., M; Annie Fitzgerald, so., M; Gabby Hedden, sr., D; Chloe Sentman, jr., D; Ivana Vukas, so, F

Top new players: Megan Bergman, fr., M/D; Audrey Eiseman, fr., F; Kasey Glynn, fr., D/M; Giada McGlynn, so., GK; Ellery Schulz, sr., M

Worth noting: The Redwings return 13 players from a conference championship team that took second in the state in Class 2A. Vukas (15 goals, 10 assists), Fitzgerald (seven goals, nine assists), Fikri (nine goals, five assists) and Bergman have playmaking and finishing abilities. The defense remains stellar behind Abbott, Hedden and Sentman who all started a year ago. Senior Kate Grubish will take over in net this spring.

Downers Grove North

Coach: Martin “Marty” Manzke (first season)

Last year’s record: 10-11-2, 3-4 West Suburban Silver (fifth place)

Top returning players: Audrey Anderson, jr., F; Karlyn Harkness, jr., F; Lexi Keown, jr., M; Ell Larsen, jr., M; Addison Liszka, sr., D/M; Kaitlyn Parker, sr., M/F

Top new players: Gianna Goodwin, so., D/M; Campbell Thulin, fr., F; Olivia Watland, fr., D

Worth noting: Parker, Liszka and Keown are the Trojans’ captains. They possess great rapport and a strong work ethic. Manzke, a four-year standout at Sandburg during his recent playing days, is confident his captains will hold their teammates to “high standards and itching for wins.” Harkness is probably looking to scratch her way on the field as much as anyone as she’s working her way back from an injury. Larsen and Anderson are really fun to watch, each possessing talents that will help the Trojans immensely.

Downers Grove South

Coach: Chris Hernandez (10th season)

Last year’s record: 16-4-1, 6-0-0 West Suburban Gold (first place)

Top returning players: Hannah Fedinec, sr., GK; Ashley Molinari, jr., M; Micah Olson, sr., D; Skylar Swanson, jr., F; Sienna Thurston, jr., M

Top new players: Hannah Hake, fr., M; Megan Pogorelec, so., D

Worth noting: The Mustangs were senior heavy a season ago with 10 seniors on the roster. Fedinec, in her fourth season, had 13 shutouts last year and was an all-conference selection along with Molinari and Olson. Swanson had 11 goals and five assists. “[We hope to] earn the West Suburban Conference title,” Hernandez said. “And go as far as our talent and preparation takes us.”

Glenbard East

Coach: Athena Toliopoulos (second season)

Last year’s record: 11-9-1, 5-3-1 Upstate Eight (third place)

Top returning players: Julia Bereta, jr., D; Ciara Johnson, sr., F; Jamie Quirk, sr., D; Maya Reinheimer, sr., F; Brissa Sarabia, jr., D

Top new players: Sam Anderson, fr., M; Makenna Gibbons, jr., D; Teagan Murphy, fr., M

Worth noting: The five top returning players for the Rams are two-year starters who will look to reduce the number of goals conceded and increase the number of goals scored from last season. Johnson scored seven goals and Reinheimer had four goals last spring.

Glenbard South

Coach: Kevin Berner (10th season)

Last year’s record: 11-8, 7-2 Upstate Eight (second place)

Top returning players: Sofia Alcala, sr., GK; Brooklynn Moore, jr., F; Lauren Price, sr., F; Olivia Seaman, jr., D

Top new players: Katelin Erickson, fr., M; Adamari Ortiz, fr., D

Worth noting: Price (nine goals), Seaman (six goals), Moore (six assists) and Alcala (eight clean sheets) are among the leaders for the Raiders who have returned this spring. “We strive to be the best public school in our pocket of 2A,” Berner said. “We look forward to our matchups against 2A opponents as a means to measure our potential sectional seeding.” A realigned Upstate Eight will offer “an outstanding opportunity for our girls to play a competitive conference schedule each season,” Berner said.

Glenbard West

Coach: Adam Szyszko (sixth season)

Last year’s record: 10-9-3, 4-2 West Suburban Silver (third place)

Top returning players: Hanalei Allen, so., M; Ellie Beaudoin, sr., D; Ava Callaway, sr., GK; Lauren Escalante, jr., MF

Top new players: Kate Cooney, so., F; Lily Hubbuch, fr., M; Hannah Roberts, jr., M

Worth noting: The Hilltoppers have only eight varsity players back from last year but should be tight up the middle with Beaudoin, Allen (nine goals, five assists) and Escalante (six goals, four assists) leading the way. Last spring all but one of the team’s losses came to teams ranked in the top 25. Callaway (Taylor University) had 10 shutouts.

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Anthony Madonia (sixth season)

Last year’s record: 16-8-2, 3-3 West Suburban Silver (fourth place)

Top returning players: Avery Edgewater, jr., M; Julia Marinaccio, sr., D; Cate McDonnell, sr., M/F; Claire Snodgrass, sr., F

Top new players: Piper Bingham, so., M; Emily DiTomasso, fr., M; Eme McClenahan, jr., GK

Worth noting: Competitive and hyper focused, this year’s Red Devils include confident newcomers and a strong group of returning players from a 16-win squad. “There is a palpable excitement in the air to represent our unique Hinsdale Central Red Devil athletic traditions proudly again this year as strong student-athletes who are part of the whole community,” Madonia said. “We will have another competitive schedule of games that will prepare us for the postseason.”

Hinsdale South

Coach: Jen Belmonte (10th season)

Last year’s record: 14-7, 3-3 West Suburban Gold (fourth place)

Top returning players: Audrey Atkinson, jr., F; Olivia Fulton, sr., D; Kennedy Ruff, so., M; Alyssa Watson, so., D

Top new players: Brynn Diedrich, fr., M; Nina Kremper, fr., GK

Worth noting: Six Hornets will be transitioning from basketball to soccer. They helped the girls basketball team take fourth place in the state in Class 3A. Hinsdale South will be young with only five upperclassmen on the roster. “This is a young group who has the potential to come together and win games despite their youth,” Belmonte said. “We have a strong front line and some speed up there with Diedrich and Ruff being track stars also. Hoping to capitalize and score many goals this season.”

IC Catholic Prep

Coach: Antonio Godinez (sixth season)

Last year’s record: 14-5-2, 5-0 Metro Suburban (second place)

Top returning players: Avery Berschel, sr., D; Evelyn Flores, so., GK; Molly Ryan, sr., D; Lucy Russ, sr., D

Worth noting: IC Catholic is coming off a fourth-place finish in the state in Class 1A and welcomes back all but one starter. “The group is very unified and is going to count on the senior leadership,” Godinez said. IC Catholic doesn’t give up goals. The Knights allowed only five goals in 21 games last year and kept Rock Island Alleman out of the net in the state semifinals but lost in a PK shootout. Could this be the year the Knights win it all?


Coach: Rick Prangen (30th season)

Last year’s record: 17-6-1

Top returning players: Emma Amberg, sr., F; Ella Simpson, jr., M; Casey Kittridge, sr., D

Top new player: Gabriela Kuruc, fr., F

Worth noting: Lemont graduated two all-state players, but it returns three college commits. Two will play Division I soccer – Simpson (Western Michigan) and Kittridge (Eastern Illinois). Amberg was an all-conference player with 16 goals and 14 assists. Simpson (18 goals, 11 assists) and Kittridge (11 assists) also were all-conference. Lemont started three freshmen last season and still managed to make the sectional finals. “We hope to repeat as conference champions and are looking to compete for a sectional title,” Prangen said.

– Hart Pisani


Coach: William Lanspeary (17th season)

Last year’s record: 21-2-1, 6-0 West Suburban Silver (first place)

Top returning players: Carolina Capizzi, so., MF; Brennan Israel, sr., D; Carolina McKenna, sr., D; Caroline Mortonson, jr., F; Josie Pochocki, sr., M/F; Izzi Wirtz, sr., M

Top new players: Anna Bigenwald, so., GK; Catie Brejcha, jr., M; Sofia D’Antonio, jr., D; Estella Giustini, jr., F; Grace Lanspeary, jr., D; Claire Mortonson, fr., D; Claire Parkhill, jr., F

Worth noting: While graduation left some big shoes to fill, Lyons still returns an excellent mix of talented players and up-and-coming newcomers. “A long way to go,” Lanspeary said. “But we should be pretty competitive.” Capizzi (11 goals), Caroline Mortonson (eight goals, 15 assists) and Pochocki (five goals) are among those who will look to fill in the scoring gap left by Katie O’Malley (19 goals, 19 assists) graduating.


Coach: Jim Bageanis (13th season)

Last year’s record: 17-6, 5-1 West Suburban Gold (second place)

Top returning players: Aaliyah Leanos, sr., F; Carisma Rosales, sr., M; Stephanie Salmon, jr., M

Top new players: Karina Estrada-Vargas, so., M; Adamary Huitron, so., M/F; Emily Orduna, jr., D

Worth noting: Bageanis is hopeful that his back line can adapt to the competition early and make strides so that the program can continue its success from last year. “I feel the first half of the season is going to be a growing experience for us since we are very young in the back,” he said. “We need to jell with the forward line and the midfield with the more experienced players to become a single unit.” The team has firepower on offense, led by Leanos (20 goals and 12 assists in 2023) and Rosales (23 goals, 12 assists).


Coach: Roberto Cianci (third season)

Last year’s record: 8-11-2, 3-3 East Suburban Catholic Conference (fourth place)

Top returning players: Olivia Austin, sr., F; Samantha Rozmus, sr., M; Izzy Strnic, jr., D; Nikolette Weis, sr., F

Worth noting: Strnic’s two goals and two assists were an added bonus to her anchoring the defense a year ago. She’s a difference maker. She’s also healthy, which is huge after she missed half of her sophomore season. Austin (37 career goals, 17 career assists), Rozmus (five goals, seven assists) and Weis (eight goals), who also has battled injuries, key the returnees.


Coach: Ivek Halic

Last year’s record: 17-7-1, 7-1 Metro Suburban Blue (second place)

Top returning players: Madison Bisiules, sr., M; Ella Caputo, jr., M; Lucy Drench, jr., D; Hazel Hall, sr., F; Niamh Larson, sr., M

Top new players: Abigail Ford, so., D; Isa Hernandez, jr., M; Abigail Jurkovic, jr., M; Michelle Panduro, so., M; Audrey Raymond, so., M/D

Worth noting: The Bulldogs have offensive firepower in Larson (15 goals, eight assists), Hall (17 goals, four assists), Caputo (two goals, nine assists) and Bisiules (two goals, six assists). Halic said the girls are looking to build off last year’s success. Hernandez has been hurt the past two seasons.

St. Francis

Coach: Jim Winslow (13th season)

Last year’s record: 12-5, 6-0 Metro Suburban (first place)

Top returning players: Ellie Bielenda, sr., F; Shannon Brown, sr., MF; Paige Chrustowski, sr., F; Alyssa Soriano, jr., D; Elle Wainscott, jr., D

Top new players: Caroline Kiesler, fr.; Ashley Kline, fr.; Macie Schweiner, so., F

Worth noting: Winslow said the Spartans are “more mature, deeper and more talented and our schedule is as tough as ever.” The Spartans also are in a new conference. Schweiner is returning from a knee injury after missing last season and is one of three key newcomers who should mix in well with the accomplished players.

Timothy Christian

Coach: Nate Drye (first season)

Last year’s record: 14-5-2, 5-2 Metro Suburban (fourth place)

Top returning players: Samantha Drye, jr., M; Hope Huizenga, sr., F; Chloe Leppink, sr., D; Amanda Schnurr, jr., D; Lauren Wiegers, sr., M

Top new players: Avery Croff, fr., D; Mia Schilf, fr., M

Worth noting: Huizenga (17 goals, 15 assists last season) is making the move from midfield to the team’s No. 9 up top. “She has good pace and power and will hopefully continue on with her ability to find the back of the net,” Nate Drye said. That’s only one of the new pieces put in place by Drye in his first season. “Our main goal is to just get better every single day and then see where that has us when the tournament starts at the end of the season,” he said.


Coach: Laura Pergande (10th season)

Last year’s record: 3-15-1, 0-6 Metro Suburban Conference

Top returning players: Danielle Hoover, jr., M, Heiry Sierra, jr., D

Top new players: Emma Franklin, fr., M/F; Peyton Monsivais, fr., M/F; Maria Vargas Quino, fr., M/F

Worth noting: Pergande is back for her second season after a 12-year hiatus. It’s her 10th year overall. It’ll be the first season for Franklin, Movsivais and Vargas Quino who are blessed with the opportunity to contribute right away. Thirty-four athletes tried out so the Sentinels will field two teams this spring.

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Maria Selvaggio (fifth season)

Last year’s record: 11-7-3, 4-2 Metro Suburban (fifth place)

Top returning players: Eva De Souza, sr., M/F; Rebecca Schulenburg, sr., M/F; Annika Vandervelde, so., M/F

Top new player: Gianna Hughes, fr., M/F

Worth noting: With a high-skilled group led by a dozen seniors, the Warriors are ready for a big season in 2A and in the new Chicagoland Christian Conference. A few out-of-state games and an appearance in the Bodyarmor Dude Wipes Series will add excitement and help prepare the Warriors for a potential postseason run in May.

Wheaton North

Coach: Tim McEvilly (24th season)

Last year’s record: 14-6-2, 4-2-1 DuKane (third place)

Top returning players: Zoey Bohmer, sr., GK; Addison Falco, sr., D; Talia Kaempf, jr., F; Jane Rogers, so. F; Calah Strong, jr., M

Top new players: Shayne Berner, fr., M; Grace Kuczaj, jr., F; Leah Roe, jr., GK

Worth noting: About half of last year’s team returns and that group is even better than it was a year ago. The younger Falcons will be looking to make an immediate impact. They’ll be assisted in their transition to varsity high school soccer by strong talent that includes Mira Spillane, Annie Pyykkonen, Delaney Ingbretson and Kylee Gosling.

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: J. Guy Callipari (30th season)

Last year’s record: 8-8-5, 2-2-3 DuKane (fifth place)

Top returning players: Ashley Adams, jr., F; Ella Byrnes, jr., D; Cam Fleming, sr., D; Brooke Ittersagen, jr., D; Lucy Jethani, jr., F; Lily Petrie, jr., D; Ava Walsh, sr., F

Top new players: Kelsey Clousing, fr., M; Emma Gronlund, so., M; Chloe Trinkl, so., D; Kayla Waterman, jr., D

Worth noting: Callipari said the goal production will need to come from the front five. The defense may see four or five new faces. “Excitement reigns high while predictions may be difficult early on,” he said. “The possibilities are wide open if we entertain the ideas of working hard on both sides of the ball.”


Coach: Julio Del Real (eighth season)

Last year’s record: 4-15, 2-4 West Suburban Gold (sixth place)

Top returning players: Halie Ahrens, jr., D; Emily Barth, jr., M; Payton Brose, jr., GK; Liz Tretina, jr., M; Lexi Rattin, sr., M/F

Top new players: Mia Catania, so., Miah Grochowski, fr.,; Lillian Macias, fr.

Worth noting: The program is generating a great deal of interest with 92 girls signed up to play this spring. “This situation brings out the best in all the girls,” Del Real said. “With a nice mixture of upper and lower classmen, we are looking to improve on last year’s performance by finishing higher in conference standings and improving on tournament play.”


Coach: Stevan Dobric (sixth season)

Last year’s record: 15-4-2, 5-1 West Suburban Silver (second place)

Top returning players: Mia Barton, sr., D; Ava Hansmann, sr., D; Hannah Meyers, sr., M/F; Michaela Quinn, sr., M/F

Top new players: Stella Kohl, sr., M; Sophia Musial, sr., F

Worth noting: Kohl (Loyola) and Musial (DePaul) are two huge additions to the team. Quinn (26 goals, 16 assists for her high school career), and Meyers (10 assists last year) are among the team’s top returnees. “This season we look to build upon our past successes and move the bar even further,” Dobric said. “With many returning players and an influx of new talented players, the team is looking to have a very competitive season.”

Chris Walker

Chris Walker is a contributor to Shaw Local