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Girls Soccer: 2014 Season Preview

Crown Point's Lauren O'Keefe clears ball during game against Lowell Wednesday August 22 2012 Crown Point. | Mark Smith~Sun-Times Media

Crown Point's Lauren O'Keefe clears the ball during a game against Lowell on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, in Crown Point. | Mark Smith~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 19, 2014 6:27AM



5 Teams to Watch

1. Crown Point

The Bulldogs were sorting out their lineup, but there’s no doubting their ability, including senior center midfielder Lauren O’Keefe, senior goalkeeper Meghan Morasan, junior center mid Malorie Henderlong (former forward), sophomore forward Delaney Benich, versatile junior Katrina Ornelas and senior defender Kami Kurtz (former center mid). They did graduate nine seniors, including four-year starter Jenna Arnold.

2. Lake Central

The Indians, under former boys assistant Shawn Thomas, could prove to be the area’s best. They return goalkeeper Lindsay Kusbel and forward Brianna Dougherty, both seniors, as well as having several club players back in the fold.

3. Valparaiso

The Vikings hope the momentum of 2013’s postseason run can carry over. Midfielder Grace Withrow and forward Ashley Thomas, both seniors, and junior midfielder/defender Lexi Ferngren lead their returnees, having graduated Lauren Reineke.

4. Chesterton

The Trojans have a new coach and graduated eight seniors from an undefeated DAC champion, but have an outstanding group of seniors (including goalkeeper Anne Marie Radzik and defender Tia Peters) and juniors (including midfielders Des Bell, Claire Galloway and Katie Green).

5. Munster

The Mustangs, with seniors Jessica Flores and Cayla Bales, junior Lexie Lyons and sophomore Cami Kekelik among their returnees, could be the team to beat in the NCC.

5 People to Watch

1. Valparaiso’s
Grace Withrow

The senior midfielder/defender helped key the Vikings to a semistate final in 2013 after they had an average — by their standards — regular season.

2. Chesterton coach
Jason Conway

He moves up from the JV to take over a talented Trojans team, following four-year coach David Galloway’s dismissal amid at least a degree of controversy.

3. Kankakee Valley’s
Sophia Van Keppel

Yep, not Covenant Christian’s. The senior forward/midfielder transferred to the Kougars after excelling for the Knights, including recording 21 goals and five assists last season.

4. Merrillville’s
Meagan Wise

The freshman midfielder already is a captain for the Pirates, with Ben Daniel describing her as possibly his best player in seven seasons as coach.

5. Boone Grove coach Genna Noel

The former Lake Central player leads the Wolves, coming off their first sectional title. She succeeds Chad Roggow, who resigned after 11 seasons.

5 Things to Watch

1. What can Wheeler
do next?

The Bearcats followed a breakthrough 17-2-2 season in which they won their first regional title — as well as second straight sectional and outright NWISC titles — with an offseason of some changes. But coach Bryan Murray’s team still has senior midfielder Shannon Eden, as well as juniors midfielder Kelley Frey, defender Mady Crowder and forward Terra Philips.

2. How about
Kankakee Valley?

The Kougars graduated a ton of elite talent from an undefeated NCC champion that suffered their only two losses to Crown Point, including 2-1 in a sectional final. But second-year coach Alex Conklin still likes this team’s depth and experience, including seniors goalie Mackenzie DeMars, forward Kara Gouwens and midfielder Rikki Young.

3. With youth be
served in the NCC?

Griffith’s top half-dozen players could be sophomores, including goalie Bridget Beck, midfielder Bella Maglish and midfielder Michelle Beck; the Panthers have only two seniors. Freshmen and sophomores make up much of Highland’s roster.

4. Is Portage back
on the upswing?

The Indians have a JV for the first time in three seasons. Second-year coach Gina Swenson will try to build with a team that includes defender Carrie Prohl and midfielder Alexis McDaniels, both seniors, and goalie Ally Clark and midfielder Chenoa Cole, both juniors.

5. How did the Pete Reist-to-Tony Pagorek
succession affect
Andrean’s girls team?

Jeff Clapman, the Crown Point boys freshman coach until 2010 and whose daughter is a sophomore at Lake Central, takes over. The 59ers’ returnees include senior goalie Maddie Mandich, junior midfielder/forward Natalie Nowesnick, and sophomore midfielders Danielle Tazic and Tessa Wojkovich.

Refresher course

Valparaiso reached a semistate final, after winning its first regional since 2007. Wheeler also won a regional, its first. Hammond and Boone Grove (first each), Lake Central (four straight, eight of nine), and Crown Point (three straight, four of five) also won sectionals.

Michael Osipoff



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