Coach: Craig Lee, 3rd season (2-year record 8-30-4)

2017: 5-14-2

Roster: Sr. — Grace Barbee, F; Ines Ortega, MF; Bronwen Boyd, F; McKenzi Moe, MF; Tierra Shickel, D; Eleanor Humphrey, F; Jr. — Gracie McCullers, D; Nelle Bess, D; Maria Lawrence; Noele Bess; Yari Aguirre; Ana Diaz; So. — Natalie Norman, D; Hailey Eddington, MF; Darlease Watts, D; Taylor Harper, GK; Denise Watts, F; Grace Marcy; Fr. — Paige Gardner, D/F.

Storyline: All-Big 12 Conference selection Denise Watts led last year's team with five goals. Hailey Eddington added three goals and four assists. She and Ines Ortega earned all-Big 12 honorable mention. Other returning starters for this Class 2A team are goalie Grace Marcy, Darlease Watts, Natalie Norman, Noele Bess, Grace Barbee and McKenzi Moe.

"We're starting from a better place than we did last year," said Coach Craig Lee, who started seven freshmen a year ago. "We were so young last year and we're still really young."

Bringing instant experience is club soccer veteran Paige Gardner, who is a freshman. "She brings a very high level of skill," said Lee, whose squad opened with a 7-0 loss to Mahomet-Seymour. Other new starters are Bronwen Boyd and Maria Lawrence.

BHS home games will switch from Community Fields to the new artificial surface at Fred Carlton Field sometime in April. "It's looking pretty good," Lee said. 

Central Catholic

Coach: Reza Ghasemi, 3rd season (2-year record 18-23-1)

2017: 9-11-0

Roster: Sr. — Caroline O'Connor, MF; Sarah Brady, MF; Olivia Campbell, F; Taryn Shanahan, D; Jr. — Mia Sivore, D; Lauren Shanks, F; Kylee Hadley, G; Tess Lantz, F; Julia Godsey, MF/D; Megan Sheehan, MF/D; Amy Malak, D/MF; Anna Isaac; Fr. — Sierra Godsey, F; Keira Hadley, D; Kylie Hundman, MF; Tinley Juarez, F; Meg Lantz, G/D; Madelyn Schnerlie, F; Katie Steinman, MF; Emma Campbell, D.

Storyline: As a sophomore, Lauren Shanks was the Intercity's No. 2 scorer with 42 goals, pushing her career total to 59. Her 15 assists last year give her 22 career helpers. Other key returnees to a "very inexperienced" squad are Sarah Brady (three goals, five assists) and Caroline O'Connor (seven assists).

Other returning starters are defender Taryn Shanahan and goalie Kylee Hadley. Among eight "athletic" freshmen, only starting defender Keira Hadley has soccer experience. Other new starters are defender Anna Isaac, midfielder Katie Steinman and Sierra Godsey.

"We have some solid players coming back, but with a lack of year-round players, it takes us time to jell," said Coach Reza Ghasemi, whose team lost its first two games including one in its new conference, the Illini Prairie. "My goal is to get competitive by the middle to the last third of the season and get ready for the (Class 1A) playoffs." 

Normal Community

Coach: Matt Chapman, 17th season (16-year record 281-75-21)

2017: 22-3-0

Roster: Sr. — Sabrina Kosharek, D; Carmen Cornejo, D; Shelby Herrera, MF; Caelyn Steffens, F; Emma Spader, GK; Megan Seger, MF/F; Jr. — Katy Quinn, D; Maggie Peters, D; Angela Leone, MF; Grace Blair, MF; Shannon Tomlinson, MF/F; Colby Oltman, D; Kaitlyn Dage, D; Samantha Churchey, MF; Savannah Henson, GJ; So. — Lauren Cornejo, MF; Grace Spader, MF; Kaitlynn Delveaux, F/MF; Courtney Dage, D; Alexis Ackerman, MF/F; Fr. — Lia Ward, F/MF; Ryann Anderson, MF/F.

Storyline: The Iron return 15 players from an Intercity and regional championship team that placed second in the Big 12. All-sectional and all-Big 12 star Caelyn Steffens, a Wisconsin-Platteville recruit, led last year's squad with 30 goals and 12 assists. Also back are Grace Blair (11 goals) and Megan Seger (nine goals).

Returning on defense are all-Big 12 stars Maggie Peters and Sabrina Kosharek, honorable mention all-Big 12 pick Katy Quinn and Carmen Cornejo. After an injury plagued 2017, Emma Spader returns in goal where she will share time with Savannah Henson.

The team's family atmosphere will get a boost from three sets of sisters: the Cornejos, Spaders and Dages. "Both Normal West and Peoria Notre Dame continue to be favorites to win the Big 12 Conference, but NCHS hopes to contend," said Coach Matt Chapman, whose team has won its first two games.

Normal West

Coach: Val Walker, 11th season (10-year record 190-52-18)

2017: 20-5-1

Roster: Sr. — Olivia Peters, MF/F; Julia Marsaglia, D/MF; Melanie Bautista, MF/F; Samantha Whelan, MF/F; Jr. — Olivia Teplitz-Crawford, MF/F; Bekah Nielsen, GK; Madison Bergeron, F/MF; Audrey Marsaglia, MF/F; Sarah Hodgen, D; Rylee Billington, F/MF; Jess Hieb, D/MF; Hanna Simmons, D; Lexia Aranda, MF/F; Annastacia Hollins, D; Ella Miller, MF; Ariel Miller, MF; Haylee Jones, MF; Fernanda Olivo, MF; So. — Tori Kafer, GK/D; Taylor Donaldson, MF; Malaika Zuern, GK; Jennifer Manzella, MF; Fr. — Alexis Evans, MF; Jessica O'Brien, D.

Storyline: With 10 returning starters from a 20-win team, the Wildcats could accomplish a lot in Class 2A, but Coach Val Walker's modest theme is: one game at a time. "We're not going to be burn ourselves out over long-term projections," he said. "We did that the last year couple years. It was stressful for everyone."

The top returning scorers are Madison Bergeron (24 goals, six assists), Audrey Marsaglia (22 goals, 6 assists), Olivia Peters (14 goals, 10 assists), Illinois-Springfield recruit Rylee Billington (12 goals, eight assists) and Melanie Bautista (nine goals). Returning in goal is Bekah Nielsen, who will share time with Tori Kafer.

Other returning starters are Julia Marsaglia, Olivia Teplitz-Crawford, Sarah Hodgen, Jess Hieb and Hanna Simmons. Last year, Hieb, Bergeron, Nielsen and Peters were all-Big 12 first team picks.

"We have balance," Walker said. "We are good at all positions. We have a very good back line. We will be prolific goal scorers."

University High

Coach: Hayley Sefton, 11th season (10-year record 138-67-22)

2017: 15-10-1

Roster: Sr. — Elise Crockett, D; Cassie Trosino, MF; LeeLanda Brewer, D; Ella Gordon, D; Anna Tulley, D; Molly Day, MF; Daisy Covarrubias; F; Molly Bledsoe, MF; Layla Jones, MF; Madison Miller, MF; Katherine Raycraft, D; Jr. — Julia Herrman, F; Abby Klein, MF; Lindsey Baker, F; So. — Sophie Dorgan, GK; Meredith Heller, F; Alex Eisenreich, MF; Celeste Noraian, MF; Evie Redell, F; Fr. — Kendall Bray, D.

Storyline: Despite losing four starters, including 68-goal star Sarah LaFayette, the Pioneers have high hopes. "I think we'll be pretty good," said Coach Hayley Sefton, whose home field is being rebuilt. U High will play home games at either Illinois Wesleyan, Illinois State or Community Fields.

The top returning scorers are Julia Herrman (eight goals), Cassie Trosino (six goals), Meredith Heller (five goals) and Celeste Noraian (four goals). Among the returning starters are Elise Crockett, Anna Tulley, Alex Eisenreich and goalie Sophie Dorgan.

"I have a good amount of defenders and I'm still trying to figure out who I'm putting back there," said Sefton, whose new starters may include Evie Redell and Kendall Bray. "I think we'll spread (the scoring) around a lot more than we did last year."

Sefton rates Rochester the team to beat in U High's new conference, the Central State Eight.

​— Compiled by Randy Sharer



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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