Scouting the DuPage Valley
Metea ValleyCoach: W. Keith McIntosh (3rd season)
Last season's record: 4-9 overall, 3-7 conference, 5th
Top returning players: Khaliah Reid, jr. (G, 5'4); Raina Penttila, jr. (F, 5'9)
Top new players: Sreehi Duggirala, fresh. (G, 5'7); Reese Valha, so. (G, 5'3)
Worth noting: The Mustangs are looking for Reid and Penttila, a pair of returning juniors, to have breakout seasons and provide leadership this season. Junior Jamie Nosek and senior Paris Spivey will need to provide some inside scoring, while Metea will also count on sophomore Lucy Burk on the perimeter to have an impact on the team's offense. The Mustangs have four seniors among the 13 players currently on the roster.
Naperville CentralCoach: Andy Nussbaum (34th season)
Last season's record: 8-7, 6-4 conference, 3rd
Top returning players: Trinity Strang, sr., (C, 6-0), Ella McDonald, sr., (F, 5-9), Haley Hayes, sr., (F, 5-8), Megan Norkett, jr. (G, 5-9), Aditi Prasad, sr., (G, 5-4), Ella Burke, jr., (G, 5-7)
Top new players: With six contributors back, Coach Nussbaum is not ready yet to single out any top newcomers, but does have five strong juniors returning from the JV team, two very tall sophomores, and a ballhandling freshman.
Worth noting: The Redhawks return six of their top eight players from the spring, but will miss the scoring and leadership that graduated in Gabi Melby and Karly Maida. With the 6-foot Strang in the middle, Naperville Central has more height than it has had the last few years, and Northwestern soccer recruit Norkett is just one of a few quick guards on a roster that can defend and run the floor. "I think our girls are up to the challenge. You know, we've got some girls that have some solid experience and the seniors are kind of out to make their own name now. I'm cautiously optimistic. We got some work to do, but I think we have a chance," Nussbaum said.
Naperville NorthCoach: Erin Colletti (3rd season)
Last season's record: 10-1 overall, Undefeated DVC Champs
Top returning players: Sarah Crossett, sr. (F, 6'0); Hope Aniceto, sr. (G 5'3), Abby Drendel, jr. (G, 5'10); Peyton Fenner jr. (G 5'11), Abby Homan jr. (F 6'0). Layla Henderson jr. (G 5'9)
Top new players: Kenzie Hare, sr. (G, 5'9)
Worth noting: NNHS won its third straight undefeated DVC title following a regional title in the 2020 season. However, it did not get to play for the Class 4A postseason tournament in 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Huskies lose a dominant scorer, rebounder, and defender in Greta Kampschroeder. However, with the transfer of Kenzie Hare from Bartlett, she brings a lot of versatility on both ends of the floor. A deadly 3-point shooter, Hare averaged 30.1 points a game last year for the Hawks, earning Captain honors for the Daily Herald Fox All-Area team. She committed to St. Louis after her sophomore season and scored 1,838 points in 3 seasons at Bartlett. Seniors Crossett and Aniceto bring varsity experience in addition to 4 juniors with 3 years of varsity experience (Drendel, Fenner, Henderson, and Homan). The Huskies are looking forward to a full season with great competition. They start the season at the Warhawk Thanksgiving tournament. Some of the nonconference opponents include Geneva, Benet, Batavia, Sandburg, Glenbard West (Grow the Game shootout game), Evanston (Derril Kipp Hoopfest). The Huskies will compete in the Montini Holiday Tournament as well.
Neuqua ValleyCoach: Mike Williams (25th season)
Last season's record: 14-2, 8-2 conference, 2nd
Top returning players: Tia Poulakidas, jr., (C, 6-0), Caitlin Washington, soph., (PG, 5-9), Kylee Norkus, soph., (G/F, 5-9), Zoe Navarro, soph., (PG, 5-5)
Top new players: Shannon Gillespie, sr. (F, 5-10)
Worth noting: The Wildcats started three freshmen and one sophomore while going 14-2 in the spring, losing only to DVC champion Naperville North twice. With Poulakidas back in the middle and surrounded by a trio of athletic guards, Neuqua should be tough on both ends of the floor this season. "Tia's a ton at center and we have three other starters back as well," Williams said. With Gillespie added to the mix along with a solid group of athletic role players, Neuqua Valley should contend for the DVC crown and has a chance to be pile up some wins. "They're athletic as all get out. But this team is also a blast to coach."
Waubonsie ValleyCoach: Brett Love (5th season)
Last season's record: 1-12 overall, 1-9 conference, 6th
Top returning players: Hannah Laub, so. (F, 5-11); Meredith Martens, sr. (C, 6-3); Amari Banks, sr. (G, 5-6); Lauren Threat, sr. (F, 5-11); Grace Abrams, sr. (G, 5-8)
Top new players: Devin Lynch, sr. (G, 5-9); Taylor Curry, Jr. (G, 5-8); Lily Newton, fresh. (G, 5'8)
Worth noting: Waubonsie Valley competed in the regional championship two years in a row before the COVID pandemic hit. The Warriors look to return to the competitive level that they are accustomed to of previous years. The Warriors lose a 1,000-point plus career scorer in guard Lauren McKnight to graduation; she is at NCAA Division III North Park. McKnight played a key role each of the past 4 seasons and was All-Conference all 4 years. The Warriors have a combination of senior leadership and young talent that Love expects will drive them to new levels of success this season.