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Kane County Chronicle's All-Area Team & Coach of the Year

Posted Saturday, June 13, 2009 by Kevin Chroust

Owens brings team together in 1st year

By KEVIN CHROUST - editorial@kcchronicle.com  Kane County Chronicle Newspaper

Megan Owens took over the Geneva girls soccer program at a dangerous time.

There’s always pressure for new coaches taking over established programs, but the thing about established programs is expectations tend to stick around even after the talent is largely gone.

Such was the case this year at Geneva two seasons after the Vikings graduated an inordinate amount of college talent, but when it came time for expectations to be met, Owens’ under-the-radar squad came nothing short of shattering them. The first-year coach is now Chronicle Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

“Geneva is a very strong program and has been in the past, so there was some pressure going in,” Owens said. “I just wanted us to have a successful season. I wanted the kids to enjoy it.”

It took time for the Vikings to find their way. An 8-7-3 regular-season record and second-place finish in the Western Sun Conference left something to be desired. But in the postseason, they mowed down South Elgin, St. Charles East for the second time this season, and upended a one-loss St. Charles North team with plans to play on the final weekend of the tournament.

“I think everyone overlooked them all season, and everybody said this would be a rebuilding year, which it was, but if you look back and look at the competition we played and the scores, we were in most of the games,” Owens said. “I think that gave the girls overall the confidence to believe in themselves.”

Geneva then lost in the sectional final to Conant, but the win over North capped a 4-0 season against the three other Tri-Cities teams, matches which Geneva didn’t treat like any other day at the office.

When things weren’t looking great record wise for Geneva, Owens emphasized the importance of winning big games. They did just that against their surrounding rivals, and others took notice.

“She definitely brought that team together,” Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. “They built some momentum up. Huge victory against St. Charles North, who was at one time nationally ranked.

“I think they definitely picked it up toward the end of the year. It’s tough when you take over a program, but she figured it out.”

Next year’s team will move on without senior starters Emily Hinchman and Megan Spear, but nine starters will return, not to mention a coach who will have her feet wet and any sort of pressure that comes along with the job largely lifted because of her team’s accomplishments in her first year at the controls.

“I learned a lot in my first season and I think the kids learned a lot as well,” Owens said. “We accomplished a lot late in the year this year, but there’s a lot more to accomplish. I’m just grateful to have such a great group of players who stayed positive and worked hard throughout the season, and that’s all a coach can ask.”

First Team

Emily Hinchman,
Geneva, Sr., M

Hinchman scored a team-high eight goals while playing almost exclusively in the center midfield. The Chronicle Girls Soccer Player of the Year will move to forward at Illinois Wesleyan this fall.

Stephanie Davison,
Geneva, Jr., D

The junior anchored a Geneva defense that kept the Vikings in games even if the offense was faltering. The Vikings didn’t score a regulation goal in three of their four postseason matches, but still managed to advance to a sectional final with Davison’s help.

Leah DeMoss,
St. Charles North, Jr., F

DeMoss never went unnoticed but it rarely mattered as the junior went on to lead a talented North Stars team in goals and earned all-state recognition.

Paige Dusek,
St. Charles N., Jr., F/M

Dusek played most of her minutes at forward this season after running at outside midfield last year, and she and DeMoss made up the area’s most potent 1-2 punch in the offensive third.

Sammy Gage,
St. Charles N., So., M

The first-year varsity midfielder filled a hole in the North Stars’ lineup at center midfield along-side Maggie Hamilton and also contributed greatly in the attack.

Liz Drennan,
St. Charles E., Jr., D

Drennan plays out of the back but was one of East’s best attackers. While other area defenders focus solely on their back-line duties, Drennan provides a dangerous offensive spark on the wing.

Zoie Samann,
St. Charles East, Jr., GK

Samaan’s sprawling saves had East on the verge of an upset against North, and her handiwork against Geneva in the postseason gave the Saints the chance to push Geneva, the area’s farthest advancing team, to the bring of elimination.

Maggie Hocheit,
St. Charles East, Jr., D

East’s defense wasn’t the problem this year with the likes of Hoscheit and Drennan helping Samaan keep the Saints in games even if they weren’t scoring.

Emily Heimergdinger,
Kaneland, So., F

Heimerdinger netted 22 goals as a sophomore and now has 40 in the first half of her high school career, which is already among the most noteworthy in the history of Kaneland soccer.

Haleigh Erwin,
Batavia, Jr., M

Erwin wasn’t on the score sheet all that often for the Bulldogs, but has emerged as one of the area’s best possession midfielders over the last two seasons, and she’s still got one more left.

Libby Cooper,
Batavia, Sr., M/F

Cooper elected to play high school soccer this season and didn’t disappoint as a playmaker and attacker for the Bulldogs. She’ll bring her game to Wisconsin-Milwaukee next year.

Second team
Maggie Hamilton, Jr., M, St. Charles North
Alyssa Peterson, Jr., M, St. Charles North
Megan Gil, Jr., D, Kaneland
Hillary Cooper, Jr., F, Batavia
Tory Kinniard, Jr., M/D, Batavia
Liz Barnes, Jr., D, Batavia
Madeline Tennant, Jr., M, Geneva
Hayley Nothnagel, Sr., D, St. Charles North
Ren Stoecklin, Sr., D, St. Charles North
Elana Mudrak, Jr., GK, Batavia
Jaime Rust, Jr., M, St. Charles East

Honorable mention
Annette Gwozdz, Sr., D, St. Charles North
Kristen Manski, Jr., GK, St. Charles North
Katelyn Allen, So., GK, Geneva
Gina Peri, Jr., D, Geneva
Catherine Allon, Fr., F/M/D, Geneva
Hannah Schweigert, So., D, Batavia
Kara Lydon, Sr., M, Batavia,
Bridget Crosby, Sr., F, Kaneland
Colleen Gebauer, Jr., M, Kaneland
Shelby Koester, Jr., M, Kaneland
Renee Ruminski, Sr., F, St. Charles East

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