Steve Millar’s top 10 girls soccer teams and 25 players to watch in the Southland for 2024 season

Steve Johnston/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Lincoln-Way East and De La Salle earned state trophies last season but will get pushed again this spring by Lockport, Andrew and Lincoln-Way Central.

Top 10 Teams

1. Lincoln-Way East (21-6)

Griffins return nine starters from team that finished fourth last season in Class 3A. Senior midfielder Bre Herlihy (Elmhurst) is a returning all-state selection, while senior forward Cami Butler and junior forward Ellie Fiegl each scored 17 goals a year ago. Senior Mia Hedrick anchors the defense in front of senior goalkeeper Mattea Arroyo, who finished with 14 shutouts.

2. Lockport (21-3-1)

Eight starters return from team that set program record for wins. Senior midfielders Kaylin Klutcharch (Indiana State) and Natalie Zodrow (Milwaukee) lead the way, with Zodrow producing 12 goals and 14 assists last season. Emma Czech (SIU Edwardsville) and twins Abbey and Meghan Mack, both Cumberlands recruits, are other key seniors. Junior forward Ava Kozak (Marquette) is a nice new addition for the Porters.

3. Andrew (16-8)

Thunderbolts bring back eight starters from a sectional finalist. They are led by senior midfielder Grace Wood, who had 11 goals and seven assists last season, and senior forward Taylor London, who finished with 13 goals. Senior Bella Kreydich anchors the defense, while junior Paige Swaw and sophomore Emily Crotty are talented midfielders.

4. Lincoln-Way Central (18-2-2)

Six starters are back for the Knights. Seniors Reagan Schultz (Green Bay), Lila Hadley and Emma Vogler are forces in the midfield, while junior Madi Watt is a dangerous forward. Junior Abby Sudkamp (Loyola) leads the defense in front of sophomore goalkeeper Flynn Meyer.

5. De La Salle (17-5-5)

Meteors return some key pieces from team that finished fourth last season in Class 2A. That includes senior midfielder Imani Coleman, an all-state selection who had 12 goals and 14 assists. Midfielder Samantha Velasco, defender Lauren Torres and forward Mia Ortega are other senior leaders.

6. Lemont (17-6-1)

Senior forward Emma Amberg (Carthage) tallied 16 goals and 14 assists and junior midfielder Ella Simpson (Western Michigan) provided 18 goals and 11 assists for a sectional finalist. Senior Casey Kittridge (Eastern Illinois), an all-state honoree who had 11 assists, anchors the defense.

7. Homewood-Flossmoor (10-9-2)

Forward Dakota Dixon, who scored 15 goals last season, is the star of a strong senior class, which also features defenders Ariel Rose and Ava Loudon. Junior Cristina Ramirez is one of the area’s top goalkeepers.

8. Lincoln-Way West (13-7-3)

Senior midfielder Ava Peterson finished with 13 goals and 11 assists a year ago, while senior Morgan Sallese and junior Ava Bach lead a tough defense in front of sophomore goalkeeper Cora Franczyk. Junior midfielder Kiersten White is a key addition.

9. Sandburg (7-16)

After a tough season with a young team, Eagles have the pieces to bounce back behind nine returning starters. Junior midfielder/forward Gabby Dittmer scored 14 goals last spring. Midfielder Ydalis Alvarez and defender Ella Riordan are talented sophomores.

10. Tinley Park (13-6-2)

Titans have a large group of seniors with multiple years of varsity experience, including midfielders Addie Weed and Kit Gormley, forward Gianna Butler and defender Taylor Perkins. Weed scored scored 20 goals last season.

The 25 Players to Watch

  • Imani Coleman, De La Salle, senior, midfielder.

  • Gabby Dittmer, Andrew, junior, midfielder/forward.

  • Dakota Dixon, Homewood-Flossmoor, senior, forward.

  • Grace Durante, Beecher, sophomore, forward.

  • Calli Edwards, Mother McAuley, sophomore, forward.

  • Galilea Esparza, Eisenhower, junior, midfielder.

  • Fatima Fonseca, Thornwood co-op, junior, forward.

  • Kit Gormley, Tinley Park, senior, midfielder.

  • Mia Hedrick, Lincoln-Way East, senior, defender.

  • Bre Herlihy, Lincoln-Way East, senior, midfielder.

  • Casey Kittridge, Lemont, senior, defender.

  • Kaylin Klutcharch, Lockport, senior, midfielder.

  • Bella Kreydich, Andrew, senior, defender.

  • Mia Ortega, De La Salle, senior, forward.

  • Ava Peterson, Lincoln-Way West, senior, midfielder.

  • Cristina Ramirez, Homewood-Flossmoor, junior, goalkeeper.

  • Jaclyn Rizzo, Stagg, senior, defender.

  • Itzel Romo, Crete-Monee, junior, defender.

  • Reagan Schultz, Lincoln-Way Central, senior, midfielder.

  • Olivia Smycz, Reavis, senior, forward.

  • Abby Sudkamp, Lincoln-Way Central, junior, defender.

  • Alyssa Thulin, Providence, sophomore, midfielder.

  • Addie Weed, Tinley Park, senior, midfielder.

  • Grace Wood, Andrew, senior, midfielder.

  • Natalie Zodrow, Lockport, senior, midfielder.