Girls soccer season preview: Titans enter season as state contenders
In this June 2, 2012, photo, Glenbrook South's April Cronin (right) tries to keep the ball away from Downers South's Shannon Snyder during the Class 3A third-place game. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Look out for ...
Corey Burns (Sr.)
The defender is the returning Pioneer Press Lake Shore Player of the Year in addition to being an NSCAA All-Midwest selection. The Iowa-signee helped the Ramblers to a 24-1-1 record and led a defense that gave up just five goals. Burns, whose sister Devin will be a freshman forward on the Ramblers this season, finished with 11 goals and seven assists last spring.
April Cronin (Sr.)
The forward had 26 goals and nine assists last season as she helped the Titans (21-6-4) reach the IHSA Class 3A semifinals for the second time in program history. Cronin has signed with Valparaiso after committing to the Crusaders before her junior season.
Alli Curry (Sr.)
The forward scored 20 goals and had four assists last season for a Hawks team that went 12-10-3. This spring, Curry will be looking to prove she can thrive without strike partner Alison Cottrell, who has graduated. The two were a prolific duo.
Jess Weaver (Sr.)
The central midfielder had 13 goals and eight assists for the Trevians, who finished 20-4-1, but were upset by Glenbrook South in the 2012 supersectional. New Trier head coach Jim Burnside said of the DePaul-bound Weaver: “She has great vision and will make our team run. Her fitness level and dedication are phenomenal.”
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:43AM
Since the IHSA expanded girls soccer to three classes in 2009, only one local program has qualified for the IHSA semifinals:
Glenbrook South. And the Titans have done so twice.
Last spring, despite being a No. 5 sectional seed, the Titans upset New Trier 1-0 in the supersectional to advance to state, where Glenbrook South came in fourth. The 2010 Titans squad also finished fourth.
Senior Emma Sailer, who is expected to start in goal this season for Glenbrook South, is the only current player who was part of both state-qualification teams.
Though just a freshman, late-season call-up on the 2010 squad, Sailer said the two state teams had some similarities.
“What set those teams apart was senior leadership,” she said. “(In 2010) we had outstanding seniors like Janelle Flaws. We had Keeley Nolan last year. Those girls make you want to win. You can see how much they want it. Both teams had talent, dedication and motivation from those seniors.”
Veteran leadership will not be a problem on this year’s Glenbrook South squad. Fourteen players are back from last spring, most notably Valparaiso-bound striker April Cronin.
Though CSL South foes New Trier, Maine South and Loyola Academy are all expected to be strong, it would be hard not to consider Glenbrook South as the favorite to reach state.
Glenbrook South head coach Seong Ha, who enters his seventh season in charge, clearly is doing something right.
“They have built a good foundation of winning there,” said Niles West head coach Brett Clish, who faces Glenbrook South, New Trier and Maine South every season. “Seong does a nice job bringing them together as a team. They also compete against other good teams in the state.”
Ha traditionally schedules games against top programs, including Glenbrook South’s annual participation in the loaded Pepsi Showdown. Sometimes Glenbrook South struggles early in the campaign or loses a game or two in the conference. But the Titans seem to excel in the playoffs.
“We kind of orchestrate everything, so we’re ready when we need to go (on a postseason run). We want to be playing our best toward the end,” Ha said. “We try to make sure we get everything all settled down. We don’t panic if we don’t get the start we want.”
One of the likely reasons for the slow starts is that several Glenbrook South regulars in recent seasons also have been standouts in other sports. In 2012, several members of the school’s basketball team (Annie Engels, Lindsey Oldshue, Teigan Flaws and Katie Jennings) also are expected to be key contributors in soccer this spring.
It would not be unusual for those players to enter the season rusty, especially compared to those who spent the winter with soccer clubs.
But the basketball players on the Glenbrook South soccer team, not to mention the volleyball players, gymnasts and cross-country runners, do have one attribute that comes in handy in the postseason: big-game experience.
“I think those (basketball players) get the nerves out during the basketball season, and during the soccer season, they want to get down to business,” said Cronin, who plays club soccer year-round. “(Last year), the girls basketball team got knocked out of playoffs by Loyola, and those girls came into soccer hungry to go to state.”