Coach: Phil Rouse (sixth season, 57-44-7)
Last season: 14-7-1 (8-2 Northern Illinois Big 12)
Postseason result: Lost, 1-0, to Sycamore in Class 2A regional final
Key returners: Maddie Frye, jr., GK; Kelli Cardine, sr., MF; Sophie Dumbacher, sr., F; Abby Hickey, jr., MF; Carlie Hayes, sr., D
Outlook: The Barbs have appeared in five consecutive regional championship matches, but haven’t won one. They’ll look to finally get over the hump with 14 varsity players and eight seniors back from a team that won the Barbfest tournament and was third in the NI Big 12.
Rouse’s take: “Key factors for our team will be the same as every team every season: steadily improve as the season moves forward, stay healthy, win all our home contests and win as many contests on the road as possible.”
Coach: Randy Tate (eighth season, 73-68-6)
Last season: 9-11 (4-6 Big Northern Conferene East)
Postseason result: Lost, 4-0, to St. Edward in Class 1A regional final
Key returners: Shannon Schumacher, sr., F; Julia Mendoza, sr., F/MF; Ixtel Viramontes, sr., D; Katie Gahlbeck, sr., D; Perla Orozco, jr., MF; Allie Pfeiffer, jr., MF; Viviana Beltran, so., F; Ashley Grimm, so., MF; Alanna Wilcox, so., MF; Katie McCluskey, so., D; Nicole Hebel, so., MF; Alyssa Edwards, jr., GK
Impact newcomers: Abbey Rasmussen, fr., MF/F; Katey Kuprius, fr., MF/F; Danielle Johnson, fr.; Libby Hanson, fr.
Outlook: The Cogs have a couple of players coming off ACL injuries who could play pivotal roles this season.
The BNC East will continue to be competitive as Richmond-Burton, which G-K plays twice, returns a number of starters from last year’s third-place state team.
Tate’s take: “A key factor for us this year will be staying healthy and keeping everyone available. With low numbers, we are not a deep team. If everyone stays healthy, we could move up a notch in the conference.”
Coach: Kyle Monestero (third year, 11-17-2)
Last season: 3-9-2
Postseason result: Lost, 9-2, to Elgin Academy in Class 1A regional quarterfinal
Outlook: Hiawatha is low on numbers, but hopes to make up for it with more experienced and skilled players. Monestero said a number of new freshmen have played club soccer, something Hiawatha hasn’t had a lot of in the past.
With a young team, Monestero still is trying to figure out correct positions and formations, but the cold weather has made it tough in the early going.
Monestero’s take: “Our team is a lot younger. We lost a large amount of seniors last year and we have five freshmen coming in this year. We’re a very small squad of 15. I feel very good about this squad.
Coach: Paul Taeuber (sixth season, 53-42-17)
Last season: 13-8-3
Postseason result: Lost, 1-0, to Lisle in OT in Class 1A regional final
Key returners: Lauren Paver, jr., F; Jacqueline Madden, so., MF; Emily Banigan, sr., D; Caitlin Flanigan, jr., D
Outlook: The return of senior Kaitlin Phillips provided much of the offense for H-BR last season, but the Royals won’t have that luxury in 2013. Paver had 10 goals and 16 assists last year and Taeuber said she is becoming a more physical presence on the field with great vision.
H-BR’s defense returns a number of key players, including Banigan and Flanigan.
Taeuber’s take: “Will really look to see how we pick up scoring this year. Last year, nearly 60 percent of our goals generated through Kaitlin Phillips. This year will be much more balanced attack.”
Coach: Luke Anderson (second season, 8-15-1)
Last season: 8-15-1
Postseason result: Lost, 4-1, to Aurora Central Catholic in Class 1A regional semifinal
Key returners: Christina Sommerfeld, sr., F; Sam Meredith, sr., D; Bailey Martenson, so., F; Emily Schilling, so., F; Madison Spooner, so., F
Impact newcomers: Jacklyn Bouma, fr.; Alex Turner, fr.; Madison Russell, fr.; Josie Diehl, fr., GK
Outlook: Indian Creek continues to build its program in Anderson’s second year as the coach.
A number of freshmen likely will see quality minutes for the Timberwolves, who are looking to reformat their back line.
Anderson’s take: “I have been pleased with the girls’ intensity and focus so far this season. The team has great chemistry and is willing to work hard to achieve our season’s goals.”
Coach: Scott Parillo (ninth season, 90-69-18)
Last season: 13-6-1 (7-2-1 NI Big 12)
Postseason result: Lost, 1-0, to Crystal Lake Central in Class 2A regional semfinals
Key returners: Jordan Ginther, sr. GK; Brooke Harner, sr., D; Michelle Ortiz, jr., MF; Heather Ortiz, so., MF
Impact newcomers: Emily Grams, so.; Sage Schlehofer, fr., D; Kiandra Powell, fr., MF; Nicole Koczka, fr., D; Gaby Cano, fr., MF
Outlook: Kaneland only lost three players to graduation and return many starters from last year’s team. The Knights only surrendered 14 goals last season and should be equally tough defensively in 2013 with Purdue commit Jordan Ginther returning at goalie.
Parillo’s take: “If we can gel quickly and stay away from injuries, we should be competitive with any team in the area. We are a little on the young side, but we should be competitive.”
Coach: Dave Lichamer (11th season, 152-66-17)
Last season: 16-9-1 (9-1 NI Big 12) co-conference champion
Postseason result: Lost, 2-1, to Freeport in Class 2A sectional semifinal; regional champions
Key returners: Lauren Miller, jr., MF; Alyssa Hemmerich, so., MF; Katherine Kohler, jr., MF; Jessica Johnson, sr., MF; Alyssa Maillefer, so., MF; Paige Kohler, jr., D; Alexis Divita, so., D
Impact newcomers: Amanda Cook, fr., GK; Janee Carlson, so., MF
Outlook: Sycamore lost seven seniors from last year’s conference and regional champs, including Bowling Green commit Emma Norris, but returns a lot of talent as well.
The Spartans have a number of tough nonconference matches, including a couple of matches in the highly regarded Pepsi Showdown, and should again be the favorite in the NI Big 12.
Lichamer’s take: “We will need to stay healthy through some of our multi-game stretches that will really test our depth.”
– Ross Jacobson,