Last season, the NIC-10 girls soccer race finished with tri-champions as Freeport, Hononegah and Guilford each went 8-1. And based on the predictions of conference coaches, the same could happen again.
In a survey of the NIC-10 coaches, four different teams were picked to win the title. And with seven first-team all-NIC-10 selections back and seven more special mention picks, it’s obvious the talent pool is just as deep this time around.
Here is a look at the NIC-10 girls soccer race in predicted order of finish:
Coach: NIck Namio (21st season)
Last year: 8-1 (tied for 1st)
Returning starters: Katie Hayner, Sr., Def.; Jesica Redington, Sr., Mid.; Maddie Hasken, Jr., Mid.; Bela Green, Sr., For.; Naomi Jackson, So., GK; Mackenzie Marti, So., Def.; Maddie Macon, So., For.
Other key players: Kalli Yoder, So., Def.; Megan Kubly, Sr., Mid.; Makayla Haight, Sr., Mid.; Max Nesemeier, Sr., Def.; Kennedy Spachman, Fr., Def.; Hala Al-Zirj, Sr., Mid.; Dulce Jiminez, Sr., Mid.
Outlook: Jackson was an all-NIC-10 selection and she heads a very talented sophomore class. Hayner, who is headed for Lewis University, joins Marti for a solid defense, and Redington, who will play at UW-Parkside, joins Hasken for a strong and experienced midfield. That veteran lineup, loaded with top talent, gives the Pretzels a slight edge in the conference race.
Coach: Taylor Meyers (2nd season)
Last year: 8-1 (tied for 1st)
Returning starters: Morgan Dolphin, GK, Sr. Libbie Frost, Def., Sr.; Samantha Shiels, For., So.; Brooke Parnello, Mid, Sr.; Frankie Schiro, For., Sr.; Swen Dannenberg, Mid., So.; Leah Haney, Def., Sr.; Elizabeth Gaessler, Def., Sr.
Other key players: Leah Starnes, Def., Sr.; Mae Nuccio, Mid., Fr.; Annie Rose, Mid., Fr.; Olivia Fabiano, For., Fr.
Outlook: The Titans are stacked and contenders once again, led by Parnello and Schiro, both of which were named all-NIC-10 and all-sectional. They are joined by Haney, who was special mention all NIC-10. “Our team is hopeful to return to the top of the conference again,” Coach Meyers said. “With a large number of returning starters, some difference-making newcomers and our senior leadership, I am excited for what’s to come.”
Coach: Jay Bigwood (4th season)
Last year: 5-4 (5th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Julia Barenbaum, Mid., Sr; Anjelica Ortiz, GK, Sr; Abby Hawes, De., Jr; Abi Gribble, Mid., Jr; Eva Eiss, Def., So ; Amy Gorsch, Def., So.; Isabel Henry, Def., So.; Lauren Wagner, For., Jr; Lauren Wedig, For., So.; Lydia Gleasman, Mid., Jr; Maiya Smith, Def., Jr; Payton Mohr, Mid., Jr; Teva Crandall, Mid., So.
Other key players: Breanna Culver, For., Fr.; Jamari Zawlocki, Def., Fr.; Sydney Singer, Def., Jr; Geneva Hann, Mid., Fr.; Paige Taborski, GK., So.; Adri Fiorini, For., So.
Outlook: Coach Bigwood is very excited about the balance of youth and experience on this year’s Indians team. Even though there are only two seniors, there are 13 players with starting experience, which bodes well for this year and the future. Leading the charge is Wedig, a Special Mention all-conference selection as a freshman last season. “We have worked extremely hard over the preseason and I am very confident we will be competitive every time we walk on the field,” Bigwood said.
Coach: Katie Barnett (4th season
Last year: 8-1 (tied for 1st)
Returning starters: Oliva Zediker, Mid/For., Jr.; Courtney Hinrich, Def/For., Jr.; Jackie Galvan, Mid/For, Sr.; Jaedyn Mitchell, For/Mid., Jr.; Dori Russo, Jr. Julia Theien, Def., So.; Kelly Munoz, Mid., So.
Other key players: Taylor Gallaher, GK, Fr.. Sarahi Santillan, GK/Mid, So.; Anju Griffeth, Def/Mid, Fr.; Lizzie Peterson, Def/Mid, Fr.; Marley Miskell, For./Mid., Sr.
Outlook: The Vikings may be listed fourth, but don’t be surprised if they are right back in the title chase. The key will be a defensive makeover after Teyah Palmer, a special mention all NIC-10 player, moved away. And much of the varsity and upperclassmen experience is on the offense. Leading the charge is Hinrichs, an all-NIC-10 and all-sectional player, who tallied 19 goals and four assists. Coach Barnett calls her the “backbone and leader of our offense.”
Zediker, another all-conference and all-sectional selection, had nine goals and two assists last season.
BELVIDERE NORTH BLUE THUNDER
Coach: Jeremy Neff (5th season)
Last year: 6-3 (4th in the NIC-10)
Returning starters: Brinley Hefty, Mid., Sr.; Olivia Hart, Def/Mid, Sr.; Evette Tamayo, Mid., Sr.; Remy Bice, Def., Sr.; Morgan Dent, For., Jr.; Arianna Wagner, For., Jr.; Lola Beary, Mid., Jr.; Alex Schenk, For., Jr.; Hannah Beffa, Mid., So.; Katrina Kazluski, Def., So.
Other key players: Anaid Camacho-Aguilar, Mid., Sr.; Jackie Uribe, Def., Sr.; Olivia Zalucky, For., Jr.; Evie Marchini, GK, Jr.; Grace Mitchell, For., Fr.; Hailee Schafman, For., Fr.; Maggie O’Brien, Def., Fr.; Ada Parker, Mid., Fr.
Outlook: Coach Neff has four players returning for their senior season – including two who were injured last year – who had experience on the 2017 conference championship squad. North lost its top two scorers to graduation, but brings back solid talent led by Hefty, a 2018 all-NIC-10 and all-sectional honorable mention selection, and Tamayo, a 2017 all-NIC-10 and all-sectional honorable mention pick.
Coach: Brad Heidenreich (15th season)
Last year: 4-5 (6th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Abby Anderson, Mia Arreguin, Isabella Cannell, Jayde Dye, Sydnie Gribble, Karla Perez, Geneva Runyard, Kaleigh Swafford, Tayla Tidberg, Samantha Wagner, Kaitline Wright.
Other key players: Madelynn Arnsmeier, Jr.; Brooke Decho, Fr.; Anika Elgin, Fr.; Nadia Martinez, So.; Haley Massari, Fr.; Madeline Montana, So.; Priscila Ortiz-Espinoza, Jr.; Natasha Tidberg, Fr.; Elizabeth Walker, Fr.
Outlook: The Huskies have a strong returning corps and what Coach Heidenreich calls, “a lot of young, raw talent.” Gribble leads that strong corps after gaining first-team all-NIC-10 honors last season. “I look for us to be very competitive and make a strong push late in the season,” Heidenreich added.
Coach: Victor Rodriguez (2nd year)
Last year: 1-8 (9th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Jaila Bailey, GK/Mid., Jr.; Valeria Lira, Def., Sr.; Gabrielle Christidis, Mid., Sr.; Sarah Grall, Mid., Sr.; Vanessa Ortega, Def. Jr.; Frankie Ingram, Mid., Sr.; Angelina Gomez, Def. Jr.; Ella Grothman, GK, So.; Yuritzi Sandoval, Mid., So.; Marley Adam, Mid., So.; Celeste Rodriguez, Def., Sr.
Other key players: Sarai Arriaga, Def., Jr.; Emma Brinkman, Mid/For., Jr.; Macie Jakubauskas, Def., Jr.; Allison Korkmaz, Def., Sr.; Madeline Martinez, Mid., Fr.; Gabby Martinez, GK/Mid., Jr.
Outlook: Six seniors anchor the Knights, led by Christidis, the conference’s leading scorer last season who will play at Robert Morris next season. Coach Rodriguez likes the balance of seniors, juniors, sophomore and freshman, and has set some modest goals including getting more wins that last season and advancing further in the playoffs.
Coach: Priscilla Rivas (3rd year)
Last year: 3-5 (7th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Madalyn Miller, GK, Sr.; Andrea Manriquez, Mid., Sr.; Diana Perez, For., Sr.; Suheily Resendiz, Def., Sr.; Jasmina Singmouangthong, Def. Sr.; Karyle DeCastro-Hull-Disch, Def., Jr.; Hailey Hunter, Mid., Jr.; Jamie Ward, Mid., Jr.
Other key players: Janessa Aguiera, Def., Sr.; Natalie Mihigo, Mid., Sr.; Mya Torres, Def., Sr.; Htoo Htwe, Mid, Jr.; Vanessa Robles, Mid., Jr.; Isabella Garrelts, For., Fr.; Dyoceline Reyes, For., So.; Jennifer Pina, Mid., So.; Say Paw, Mid., So.; Zoe Forss, Mid., Jr.; Andrea Klasnja, Def., Sr.; Stephanie Garcia, Def. Sr.
Outlook: The E-Rabs have seen growth over the past few years that saw them jump to three wins last season. Coach Rivas looks for that climb to continue, thanks to eight returning starters led by Miller, a first-team all-NIC-10 and special mention all-sectional player last season. Also back is Ward, who was special mention all-NIC-10 and special mention all-sectional each of the last two seasons.
Coach: Kendra Runyard (2nd season)
Last year: 0-9 (10th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Jaqueline Aranzolo, Def./Mid., Jr.; Yaneli Delgado Reyes, Def., So.; Emily Pera, Def., So.; Sam Resendis, Def., So.; Jennifer Gutierrez, Mid., Jr.; Perla Segura Benetiz, Mid., Jr.; Ingrid Sanchez, Mid., So.; Briseyda Valencia-Lopez, Mid., Sr.
Other key players: Carina Sena, GK, So.; Nayelli Perez-Hinkle, For., Fr.
Outlook: Last year started a rebuild under Coach Runyard’s regime, and the same can be said for this season. But she believes that hard work from last season will start to pay off this year, even though the J-Hawks are still a young team, with only one senior among the six returning starters.
Coach: Simon Stevens
Last year: 2-7 (8th in NIC-10)
Returning starters: Yordanos Gardner, Sr.; Giselle Lopez, Sr.; Alyssa Cerna, Sr.; Aracely Hererra, Jr.; Emily Mancillas, So.; Guadalupe Garcia, So.; Clara Abarca, So.
Other key players: Stephanie Anacleto, Fr.; Kimberly Rivera, Fr.
— Randy Ruef, Sportsfan 1330