Girls Soccer: St. Charles North set for state semis
By Matt Le Cren For Sun-Times Media May 31, 2012 5:18PM
St. Charles North's Kelly Manski is pressured from behind by Barrington's Aimee Pierce on Tuesday. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:31AM
After graduating 12 seniors in each of the past three years, St. Charles North wasn’t expected to challenge for a state title this spring.
But the North Stars have done exactly that and are two wins away from capturing their first state championship. St. Charles North (18-5-2) takes on Downers Grove South (19-5-3) in a Class 3A state semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville. Top-ranked Naperville North (22-1-2) faces Glenbrook South (21-4-4) in the other semifinal.
Naperville North is the tournament favorite, but don’t count out the North Stars.
“I know on paper everyone thinks Naperville North is the favorite, but then on paper at the start of the year we weren’t expected to be here, either,” St. Charles North coach Ruth Vostal said. “I think it’s one those years when you have four great teams that are going to represent the state.”
The North Stars have only five seniors, but three of them are Division I players. Illinois State-bound forward Lauren Koehl (22 goals, 11 assists) leads the offense along with junior midfielders Kelly Manski (10 goals, 12 assists) and Natalie Winkates (11 goals, eight assists), while Winona State recruit Lisa Manski leads a defense that has helped goalie Carly Dietrich (Bemidji State) record 13 shutouts, including five straight in the playoffs.
“It’s a small [senior] class but I think at St. Charles we don’t rebuild; we reload,” Vostal said. “I always have high expectations and every year we think we can extend ourselves far into the postseason.”
The North Stars, who finished third in 2010, beat Downers South 1-0 on a goal by Koehl back on March 28, but Vostal said that means little now.
“That game was played so long ago,” Vostal said. “Our team has grown and changed a lot since then and I’m sure Downers South has too.”
The Mustangs are led by Valparaiso recruit Sarrah Ludwig, who has scored 29 goals, including 16 in her last 10 matches. Downers South scored on five set pieces in a 6-0 supersectional rout of Homewood-Flossmoor, while St. Charles North eked out a 1-0 win over Barrington on an early Koehl goal.
“We’ve been playing good team defense in the playoffs,” Vostal said. “If we continue to do that we should be OK.”