Girls Soccer: Herald-News 2024 season preview capsules

Catching up with the state runner-ups and more

Minooka’s defender Jessica Stewart kicks the ball back to the goalkeeper during the game against Plainfield North. Monday, Mar. 14, 2022, in Plainfield.

Spring is in the air, and so is high school girls soccer in Illinois. Let’s take a look at how everything is shaping up for this season across the Herald-News area.


Lincoln-Way Central

Lincoln-Way Central’s Christine Erdman and Evanston’s Carly Menocal compete in the Class 3A IHSA state girls soccer third-place game in Naperville on Saturday, June 4, 2022.

Head coach: Sean Fahey (4th season)

Last season’s record: 18-2-2

Key returners: Flynn Meyer, so., GK; Abby Sudkamp, jr., DEF; Taylor Watt, so., DEF/FWD; Sydney Zale, so., MID; Reagan Schultz, sr., MID; Lila Hadley, sr., MID; Jaylin Sustr, jr., MID; Emma Vogler, sr., MID; Madi Watt, jr., FWD

Key newcomers: Ruby Hillegass, jr., DEF; Julianne Rafacz, fr., DEF.; Nadia Fabian, sr., GK

Worth noting: Lincoln-Way Central is light on numbers this season but heavy on talent. They have four college commits, three at the Division I level in Schultz (UW-Green Bay), Sudkamp (Loyola) and Madi Watt (Eastern Illinois). Fahey believes this unit is totally bought in right now and expects big things. Fahey said, “They have been working tirelessly day in and day out to be as ready as possible for the challenges of the season. I’m very proud of these girls, and I’m excited to see what this group can accomplish this year.”


Head coach: Rick Prangen (30th season)

Last season’s record: 17-6-1

Key returners: Emma Amberg, sr., FWD; Ella Simpson, jr., MID; Casey Kittridge, sr., DEF

Key newcomers: Gabriela Kuruc, Fr., FWD

Worth noting: Although Lemont graduated a pair of all-state players, it returns three college commits, two of whom are going D-I in Simpson (Western Michigan) and Kittridge (Eastern Illinois). Amberg was an all-conference player with 16 goals and 14 assists, while 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. Prangen said, “We hope to repeat as conference champions and are looking to compete for a sectional title.”


Head coach: Todd Elkei (12th season)

Last season’s record: 21-3-1

Key returners: Emma Czech, sr., DEF; Kaylin Klutcharch, sr.; Natalie Zodrow, sr., MID; Brinlee McNabb, sr., DEF; Alyssa Flood, jr., DEF; Abbey Mack, sr., MID; Meghan Mack, sr., DEF; Karolina Skubisz, sr., FWD; Megan Posmer, sr.; Hayden Spodarek, so.

Key newcomers: Ava Kozak, jr., FWD; Tiffany Giannese, jr.

Worth noting: The Porters have 10 players committed to play college soccer, six at the D-I level in Czech (SIUE), Lutcharch (Indiana State), Zodrow (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), McNabb (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Flood (Wisconsin-Green Bay) and Kozak (Marquette). Lockport set a school record for wins and advanced all the way to the sectional semifinals last year. Its also a cohesive unit as many of the players have played together since they were 6. Eight starters return from last year, with Giannese returning after attending school in Florida for a year. Elkei said, “We hope to get better each week and make a good run at the end of the season. This team once again has great chemistry and a competitive edge to them.”

Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way East’s Cami Butler and O’Fallon’s Regan Schreckenberg chase the ball in the IHSA girls Class 3A state soccer semifinal game at North Central College in Naperville on Friday, June 2, 2023.

Head coach: Mike Murphy (8th season)

Last season’s record: 21-6

Key returners: Brianna Herlihy, sr., MID; Cami Butler, sr., FWD; Kara Waishwell, jr., MID; Ellie Fiegl, jr., FWD; Elizabeth Burfeind, so., MID; Mia Hedrick, sr., DEF; Hannah Torkarski, jr., DEF; Camden Cosich, so., DEF; Mattea Arroyo, sr., GK

Key newcomers: Daniela LaPonte, sr., MID; Payton Lucitt, jr., MID

Worth noting: No one in the area made it as far as the Griffins last season, as they reached the state semifinals and finished fourth in Class 3A. Nine starters are back, three of whom are college commits. Butler and Fiegl will lead the way after each scored 17 goals in 2023. Burfeind (11 goals, nine assists), Herlihy (nine goals, six assists) and Waishwell (seven assists) were strong players as well, and Arroyo had 14 shutouts. Murphy said, “We are looking to continue on the success we had last year. We would like to be contenders for the SWSC Blue title as well as win a regional and be competitive as sectionals.”

Lincoln-Way West

Head coach: Joe Stephens (3rd season)

Last season’s record: 13-7-3

Key returners: Ava Bach, jr., DEF; Jaiden Hughes, so., MID; Kate Kinsella, so., FWD; Ava Peterson, MID; Morgan Sallese, DEF; Cora Franczyk, GK

Key newcomers: Molly Gillis, jr., FWD; Kiersten White, jr., MID; Natalie Esposito, jr., DEF; Julia Urbanczyk, sr., DEF

Worth noting: While the Warriors graduated seven regular starters from last season, Stephens views that not as a challenge but an opportunity for the newer players to excel. Peterson should lead the way after putting up 13 goals and 11 assists last year. Franczyk is an experienced starter, as well, after posting nine shutouts last year with a 1.26-goals-against average. Stephens said, “We expect to be competitive in every game this season. We will have our ups and downs as we look toward our goals of the season. But as long as we keep our focus on our team goals and enjoy the process in getting there, we will have a successful season.”


Head coach: Nick Trotter (5th season)

Last season’s record: 3-13-4

Key returners: Trinity Yancy, so., FWD; Maggie Balas, sr., MID; Brenda Diaz, jr., FWD; Chelsey Rufino, so., MID

Key newcomers: Bella Loya, fr., MID

Worth noting: The Raiders have some returners to build around, and Loya is poised to be a special player. They’ll also get Gabby Elliot back from injury on the back line. Trotter said, “We are really excited about the skill level and our style and feel we have a very tough, hardworking group of fully committed players. The girls have brought a great energy into the season.”



Head coach: Chris Brolley (13th season)

Last season’s record: 13-3-4

Key returners: Callie Hefner, so., MID; Cali Rucka, jr., MID; Sophia Rausa, jr., DEF; Jasmine Valles, jr., DEF

Key newcomers: Jada Neill, jr., MID; Keira Rucka, fr., FWD

Worth noting: Minooka was one of the most improved teams in the area last season. After finishing under .500 in 2022, the Indians went 13-3-4 and advanced to a sectional final. There are a lot of pieces to replace and not a whole lot of seniors, so there may be some early growing pains. But the foundation is there, and Brolley is excited about this unit. Brolley said, “This is a motivated, energetic group of players that has their sights on getting back to the sectional final. With new players and some different positions, it’ll take some time to jell together, but we look for this team to compete with the best teams in the area.”

Plainfield East

Head coach: Rebecca Ford (1st season)

Last season’s record: 11-6-2

Key returners: Delaney Shrupsha, sr., FWD; Anna Jenkins, sr., GK; Caroline Dinnon, jr., MID

Key newcomers: Natalie Villa, fr., MID; Isabelle “Izzy” Bustamante-Lopez, so., DEF

Worth noting: The Bengals will have a new leader in Ford this season in an ultracompetitive conference. Plainfield East finished sixth in conference, but just two games separated the second- and sixth-place teams. There’s talent to build on here, as well, especially in the net with Jenkins. The senior is committed to play D-I soccer at Marquette next year. She’ll hope to lead the Bengals to glory this year before all that.

Plainfield North

Plainfield North head coach Katie Monterosso watches the match against Joliet West on Thursday, May 4, 2023 in Joliet.

Head coach: Katie Monterosso (4th season)

Last year’s record: 23-2-2

Key returners: Lauren Mrugala, sr., MID; Claire Wilson, sr., MID; Emily Castro, sr., MID; Grier Isaacson, jr., DEF; Delaney Harwood, so., DEF; Riley Grant, jr., MID; Katelyn Haiser, so., FWD

Key newcomers: Lauryn Amico, so., MID/FWD; Ilyanna Barriball, fr., FWD

Worth noting: Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Tigers last year. The 2023 squad broke 12 program records and is on the IHSA list for most goals scored and shutouts in a season. This year’s roster features five college commits thus far, including a pair of D-I pledges in Mrugala (NIU) and Isaacson (Ball State). After reaching a supersectional, Plainfield North will be hungry for even more this season. Monterosso said, “We know that if we leave it all out on the field every day, we will have positive results. We have a lot of new players, as well, so the first half of the season is about getting the team to jell together, but I know they are up for the task and have been working well together.”


Head coach: Jose Quintana

Last season’s record: 4-14

Key returners: Dehlilah Carli, so.; Doria Quintana, jr., GK; Yuliana Rodriguez, so.

Worth noting: There’s some youth on this team, but there’s also a lot of returning experience, as the Spartans didn’t lose many players from last year’s group. They’ll look to improve in a loaded conference.

Plainfield South

Head coach: Thomas Blake (3rd season)

Last season’s record: 14-6-1

Key returners: Arabella Gaudiuso, sr., DEF; Izabella Haddad, jr., MID; Hannah Folliard, so., GK

Key newcomer: Olivia Smith, sr., MID

Worth noting: PSHS finished with the second-best record in program history last season. There will be a lot of new faces this season, but there’s plenty of talent to build on. Folliard recently attended the U.S. Youth National Team U-16 training camp in California, the only player in the state to get an invite and one of only three keepers in the nation. Blake said, “We are excited to start the new season. We have quite a bit of change on the roster from last year and are looking forward to seeing different players step up to help lead our team this year in a new way. We have a great group of girls that we are proud of that work hard on and off the field.”

Plainfield Central

Head coach: Ken Schoen (14th season)

Last season’s record: 7-13-2

Key returners: Veronica Gordon, sr., MID; Bella Torres, sr., DEF

Worth noting: There’s talent here for Plainfield Central, as Gordon is committed to play at the next level for St. Ambrose University. There’s also a lot of youth with six freshmen and three sophomores on the team who are expected to have roles this year. Still, Schoen says the youngsters have talent, too, and this squad has the ability to be successful this year.

Joliet Central

Head coach: Stephanie Phillips (9th season)

Last season’s record: 3-14

Key returners: Julissa Calderon, jr., FWD; Victoria Davila, jr., FWD/MID; Leslie Magana, sr., DEF; Gisselle “Gigi” Rangel, sr., DEF; Johanna Reyes, sr., MID; Victoria Serna, jr., DEF

Key newcomers: Ariadna Arciniega, so., MID; Izabel Barrera, so., FWD; Elizabeth Cuellar-Vera, fr., MID; Galilea Delgado, fr., FWD; Kathleen Hernandez, so., FWD; Cali Judd, fr., GK

Worth noting: The Steelmen look to improve on last year’s record and have the experience to do it. They’ve also got the talent, as Reyes is committed to play at Joliet Junior College. Phillips said, “Our expectations for this season directly relate to our program’s values. Our program is focused on having fun while being competitive, holding ourselves and our teammates accountable, communicating and working with our teammates and coaches on and off the field, and maintaining positive sportsmanship. We have a solid group of young women who are dedicated to our program’s values, and we, as a coaching staff, have high expectations for this varsity team.”

Joliet West

Head coach: Alan Stewart (5th season)

Last season’s record: 11-13

Key returners: Julia Martinez, sr., MID/FWD; Abby Vugteveen, jr., MID; Mackenzie Mertes, jr., DEF; Sophia Podmolik, so., DEF

Key newcomers: Alicia Casillas, fr., FWD; Valerie Garcia, so., FWD

Worth noting: There’s a lot of youth on this team, but Joliet West is coming off one of its better seasons. The program record for single-season victories is 12, and the Tigers finished one shy of that mark last year. Stewart says the goal is to break that mark this year. West also will host a girls regional for the first time, Stewart said.



Morris' Danica Martin (left) and Sycamore's Izzie Segreti go after the ball during their Interstate 8 Conference Tournament semifinal game Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at Sycamore High School.

Head coach: David Valdivia (3rd season)

Last season’s record: 12-8-3

Key returners: Ella McDonnell, sr.; MID; Maggie Stuebinger, sr. GK; Melisa Olivares, sr., DEF; Kendra Vasquez, sr., MID; Danica Martin, jr., MID; Makensi Martin, jr. DEF; Nicolette Boelman, so., DEF; Skylar Sparks, jr., FWD

Key newcomers: Emma Spittler, fr., DEF; Zara Lugo, so., FWD

Worth noting: Morris appears poised for another strong season. It graduated only two starters from last year’s team and returns a Division I commit in McDonnell (IUPUI), who scored 26 goals in 2023. The goal for Morris is to win its first sectional game in program history. Valdivia said, “We plan to take each game one at a time.”



Head coach: Travis Ivanoff (8th season)

Last season’s record: 10-10-1

Key returners: Ella Banas, sr., MID; Alaina Clark, jr., F/MID; Aubrey Bryant, sr., DEF

Key newcomers: Addison Van Duyne, fr., MID

Worth noting: There will be a lot of new faces this season for Wilmington, as the Wildcats carry 10 freshmen on the roster. Ivanoff believes there will be enough players to sport a full freshman team. There were some record-breaking performances last year, but it’s time for the future now. Ivanoff said, “We graduated some pretty strong, fast, and skilled seniors last year. We are looking to continue our winning ways, but understand where our strengths and weaknesses are. We will look to scoring early and often.”


Head coach: Ryan Murray (1st season)

Last year’s record: 11-7-1

Key returners: Addie Graffeo, sr., MID; Ashley Renwick, sr., DEF; Emma Iozzo, sr.; Madi Schroeder, sr..; Kate Cuthbertson, jr., Allie Werner, so., FWD; Peyton Bisping, so., FWD

Key newcomers: Callie Weiss, fr.; Alexa Matichak, fr.

Worth noting: Peotone is coming off a regional championship season with 12 returning players, including eight seniors. Graffeo and Renwick are college commits, and Werner was the leading scorer from last year. Weiss and Matichak have combined for 10 years of club experience and should chip in right away. There’s a lot of passion for this program, with 28 girls making up the varsity and JV, including 14 first-year players. Murray said, “Our goal this year is to win the regional championship and compete for the sectional title as well. ... The team has bought into this philosophy, so I am excited for them to prove themselves throughout the season.”

Coal City

Head coach: Todd Painter (23rd season)

Last season’s record: 12-7-2

Key returners: Corina Barkley, jr., DEF; Ayli Castle, jr., DEF; Chloe Plueger, sr., GK; Aubrey Mellon, sr., GK; Maddie Gomez, sr., FWD; Kylee Kennel, jr. FWD

Worth noting: The Coalers return an experienced back line and goalkeeping duo from last year’s squad. The key will be improving in conference play after they went 3-4 in the ICE last year, but they’ll surely want a repeat of their postseason run. The Coalers had a Cinderella go at it, reaching the sectional championship. The goal is to repeat that run.


Head coach: Aaron Vasil (3rd season)

Last season’s record: 7-6-2

Key returners: Gwen Stewart, so., FWD; Hannah Budick, sr., DEF; Abigail Koonce, jr., MID

Worth noting: Stewart was one of the top scorers in the area last year with 26 goals. Reed-Custer will be hoping another year will only see her get better. There will be a number of seniors to replace from the 2023 team.


Providence Catholic

Head coach: Mike Taylor (1st season)

Last year’s record: 6-17-1

Key returners: Natalie Demoor, sr., DEF; Rachel Faut, sr., MID; Abbey O’Brien, sr., MID; Gabriella Savarino, jr., MID; Emma Winjum, jr., DEF; Alyssa Thulin, so., MID; Maggie Wolniakowski, so., FWD

Key newcomers: Giuliana Savarino, fr., MID; Alexa Thompson, fr., DEF

Worth noting: It’s a new era for the Celtics as Taylor takes over. There are pieces to build around in Wolniakowski (17 goals) and Thulin (all-conference selection). Taylor said, “We will be a team in progress, as I am finding out what they players have and how they compete. We will be better than we have been in the last couple of years.”


Joliet Catholic

Head coach: Oscar Valdez (16th season)

Last season’s record: 4-13-3

Key returners: Ella Dwyer, sr., MID; Amelia Cameron, sr., DEF; Lyndsay Black, sr., MID

Key newcomers: Sadey Magana, fr., FWD; Lyndsay Blabas, fr., FWD; Syndell Ocegueda, fr., MID; Donica Hogan, fr., GK

Worth noting: It’s a young group for Joliet Catholic this season. Those four freshmen will start and be joined by three sophomores, one junior and three seniors. The Angels will look to improve from last year and hope to grow as the season goes on.