The conclusion of week seven in the girls season is one of the most consequential.
The release of the bigger-schools state tournament seeds, the dramatic conclusion of the Naperville Invitational, and a series of high-profile conference games concentrates and shapes the action in a deeply meaningful and profound way.
Not every week is judged the same, certainly not in regard to rankings. Later season activity is far more predictive of strength and power than early or even mid-season performance.
At the same time, we are back to where we began, with last year’s Class 3A state finalists, Metea Valley and Barrington, positioned 1-2 in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 poll.
Everything old is new again?
They are the last of the major unbeaten programs in Class 3A. Overcoming injuries to its top two players, Metea Valley repeatedly finds a way to win.
Now the Mustangs have a DuPage Valley Conference showdown with new no. 3 Naperville North on Tuesday.
Among the top 10 teams, the Huskies are the big risers following a deeply impressive run in the Naperville Invitational with victories over ranked Benet and New Trier, and taking Barrington to penalty kicks in a semifinal in which North led for a great deal of regulation.
During its seven-game winning streak, Naperville North posted four shutouts, beat three ranked teams and had a goal-differential of 29-4.
A somber note is the uncertainty regarding the health of freshman Claire DeCook, who suffered a knee injury after scoring a goal in the New Trier game.
Claire DeCook is one of the stories of the season.
She has been the female equivalent of Chase Adams, the prolific Naperville Central freshman forward. He led the Redhawks to the boys state title last fall. and became the first ever freshman to be named the Chicagoland Soccer Player of the Year.
One of the recurrent motifs of this year’s Top 25 is how many programs have gotten a jolt from vital new and emerging talent.
The top 12 teams are as strong as any poll in recent years. Lyons and Plainfield North, for instance, have lost only one game, each on penalty kicks at a tournament game in which there was no overtime session.
In most seasons, St. Charles East or St. Charles North, Evanston, or a one-loss Lincoln-Way Central would be suitable top-ranked teams.
The fact that they are not speaks to the elite, high level quality of this year’s top teams.
The next month is likely to be exhilarating.
|1||1||Metea Valley||12-0-3||Zoe Kirkman is a disruptive stopper|
|2||3||Barrington||13-0-2||Roos VanRoekel is all-world|
|3||9||Naperville N||9-4-1||Rachael Noran is a skilled talent|
|4||12||St. Charles N||11-3-1||Rian Spaudling is skilled attacker|
|5||2||St. Charles E||16-1-0||Alli Saviano sparks the middle attack|
|6||6||Plainfield N||15-1-2||Tigers have a 93-5 goal differential|
|7||4||Fremd||12-2-1||Ava Catherall is a graceful middle presence|
|8||5||Lyons||14-1-1||Avery Wengerd is a sharp two-way talent|
|9||10||LW Central||13-1-2||Strong shutout of rival LW East|
|10||7||Evanston||14-2-1||Jordin Kadiri helps shut out New Trier|
|11||14||Wheaton N||11-4-2||Calah Strong is a dynamic player in the middle|
|12||8||New Trier||14-3-1||Keeper Caroline Hague has come of age|
|13||20||Lockport||15-2-1||Porters setting up for deep playoff run|
|14||15||Benet||11-4-0||Ivana Vukas is another fantatic freshman|
|15||16||Libertyville||7-2-2||Mundelein showdown Tuesday|
|16||13||Geneva||11-5-0||Olivia Hagen is a freshman to watch|
|17||17||York||10-2-1||Finley Ewald leads strong NI performance|
|18||HM||Stevenson||9-4-2||Statement shutout of Mundelein|
|19||11||Naperville C||6-3-1||Natalie Jordan stabilizes the middle attack|
|20||HM||Oswego East||9-5-1||Emma Rosenthal is a terrific double threat|
|21||23||Glenbrook N||9-3-1||Cross-town win extends unbeaten streak to 6|
|22||HM||Lane||8-4-2||Grace Carman is emerging as elite sophomore|
|23||NR||Hersey||9-5-1||Abi Beck is a fantastic all-around talent|
|24||21||Prospect||10-2-2||Knights take Fremd to the brink|
|25||25||Deerfield||11-3-1||Avery Kingseep is gifted tactical player|
Look out for: Loyola, Lincoln-Way East, Lake Zurich, Hinsdale Central, Carmel, Batavia, Mundelein, Warren, Minooka, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Riverside-Brookfield, Plainfield South, Morton, Lake Forest