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Sports

Girls soccer teams set for season openers

St, Charles North's Ce Ce Wahlberg shakes Conant defenders Alyssa Brand, left, and Bella Grebenor before scoring in the second half of the North Stars' 4-1 win in the Class 3A Geneva Sectional final during the 2018 season.
St, Charles North's Ce Ce Wahlberg shakes Conant defenders Alyssa Brand, left, and Bella Grebenor before scoring in the second half of the North Stars' 4-1 win in the Class 3A Geneva Sectional final during the 2018 season.

The girls soccer season starts this week as teams begin the quest to reach the state tournament at North Central College in Naperville. Here is a preview of area teams.

Batavia Bulldogs

Coach: Mark Gianfrancesco

2018 Record: 14-4-2

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Anna Holcomb sr. F

Jenna Nichols sr. D

Zaira Solis sr. D

Outlook: The Bulldogs return 11 players from last year’s team, positioning them well in the experience department coming off a regional final appearance. Ashley Whelpley, a sophomore midfielder who did not play last season because of an ACL injury, could be a candidate for an impactful comeback.

“The newcomers will give quality competition in training to raise our level of play throughout the season and give us much-needed depth beyond the starting 11,” Gianfrancesco said.

Burlington Central Rockets

Coach: Jess Arneson

2018 Record: 23-3-0

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Zoey Kolhoff jr. MF

Maddie Menke jr. F

Taylor Abbott sr. D

Outlook: Coming off a sparkling season that ended in a supersectionals appearance, the Rockets are well-positioned for another deep run. With returning top goal scorer Kolhoff (30 goals, 14 assists) in tow, the Rockets return several seniors and plenty of speed up front.

“We are a young team, but will do well in conference,” Arneson said. “We have scheduled a tough season with several 3A schools. We will participate in the St. Charles Tournament as well as the Naperville Invitational.

Geneva Vikings

Coach: Megan Owens

2018 Record: 12-7-4

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Jenna Dominguez sr. F

Sydney Gratz sr. MF

Katie Montgomery jr. GK

Outlook: The Vikings fell in the regional finals last season and graduated a couple of standouts. But they remain in good shape with eight seniors on the team. Dominguez, an all-conference selection last season, knocked in 24 goals and four assists and should be expected to shoulder a high-volume scoring load.

“We return a solid veteran squad that is mixed with a lot of new talent,” Owens said. “We are entering a new conference with a multitude of talented programs and are excited for the challenge.”

Kaneland Knights

Coach: Scott Parillo

2018 Record: 13-5-2

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Rachael Lutter sr. F

Taylor Carlson so. F

Emma Ball sr. GK

Outlook: Kaneland will be led by Lutter, who is committed to Cincinnati and scored 14 goals and had nine assists last season for the Knights.

Kaneland lost in the regional final last season and aspires to make a successive appearance.

“We have quite a few returning players from last year and some very good players added to the roster,” Parillo said. “Kaneland is hoping the weather cooperates, so they can get outside and not stuck in a tiny gymnasium. It should be an exciting season.”

St. Charles North North Stars

Coach: Brian Harks

2018 Record: 21-1-1

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

CeCe Wahlberg sr. MF

Sammy Rydberg jr. MF

Makenna Collins so. D

Claudia Najera sr. F

Outlook: The North Stars have made a supersectionals berth in consecutive years and hope to break through to the state finals this spring.

The North Stars lost top-level production from graduating Gia Wahlberg and Hailey Rydberg – a combined 44 goals – but return several with varsity experience in Wahlberg, Rydberg and Najera for what should shape up as a deep postseason run.

“We have a strong group of returning players that are eager to step into leadership roles,” Harks said. “We will be combining young talent with returning experience, and it should make for an exciting season.”

St. Charles East Saints

Coach: Vince DiNuzzo

2018 Record: 13-6-6

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Kayla Villa sr. MF

Alondra Carranza jr. D

Grace Griffin sr. GK

Outlook: The Saints could be in great position for a deep postseason run. They return seven of 11 starters from last season and a large portion of their backline. Villa (13 goals, 10 assists) and Griffin, who had 13 shutouts and allowed an average of less than one goal per game, will be big keys for the Saints, who are hoping to build off a regional title.

“Our biggest strength will be our ability to defend,” DiNuzzo said. “I think we will be much more dynamic going forward than previous years with the players we have on our team.”

St. Francis Spartans

Coach: Jim Winslow

2018 Record: 18-4-3

Top players

NAME YEAR POS.

Hannah Rittenhouse sr. F

Caroline Zimmer sr. F

Jill DiTusa sr. D

Outlook: The reward for winning the Class 2A state championship was a bump up to Class 3A this season, which will make things challenging, but the Spartans still have a lot of talent and experience with 13 players with varsity experience. At the top of the list is Rittenhouse, an Iowa commit who scored 24 goals and had eight assists last season – including three goals in the championship game.

“We play a tough schedule for a small school,” Winslow said. “We will hit some bumps in the road, but if we can get up to speed quickly, we should be able to hold our own in the big school division 3A for playoffs.” 

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