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Poll: Chicagoland Soccer Final 50

By Patrick Z. McGavin, 06/06/23, 8:45PM CDT


Soccer, to paraphrase T.S. Elliot, is the cruelest sport.

The state tournament series uses a knockout format.

The win-or-go-home nature is endemic to every IHSA state championship. 

The geographic bracketing arrangement throughout the state and unequal talent distribution means not every route to the state championship is the same.

Similar to the old Chicago Public League clashes in boys basketball, some programs had to endure a gauntlet just to advance. 

Plainfield North beat defending state champion Metea Valley in the sectional championship.

The Tigers lost in a penalty shootout to O’Fallon in the supersectional.

The way the brackets played out, it seemed pretty evident the winner from that area had a direct path to the state final against Barrington at the top half of the bracket.

O'Fallon started just one senior, but what a senior she was. Kiley McMinn was named the IHSSCA Player of the Year. The Marquette recruit scored 49 goals on the season, including one in the 2-0 semifinal win and the late overtime game-winner in the 1-0 championship match.

With 10 returning starters, the Panthers will open next season as the clear no. 1 team atop the Chicagoland Soccer First 50 poll.

At the start of this season, then defending Class 3A state champ Metea Valley was at the top of that list.

The Final 50 is the season-comprehensive grouping that mashes together the Chicagoland Soccer regular-season polls: the Top 25; the Illinois 10; and the Class A and Class AA Super 7 lists.

Back to the original point, the state tournament format is cruel and unyielding. 

Surveying the outcomes, so many overlapping factors come into play — luck, timing, injuries and the unexpected.

Metea Valley senior star Jordan Lange—the reigning Player of the Year—was limited to just 13 games due to an injury.

Plainfield North standout Emma Duval, a Tennessee recruit, tore her ACL.

Naperville North freshman phenom Claire DeCook, who scored 16 goals in 11 games, suffered the same cruel fate.

That top-end, elite talent is often the difference the deeper the state tournament goes.

Scoring is not egalitarian. Elite players have a particular knack for finishing.

“I always know to look for Kiley, and know where she is going to be, because she is always in the right place,” O’Fallon’s Allie Tredway said after McMinn sealed the Class 3A championship deal.

McMinn has accomplished the singular achievement of scoring the game-winning goals in two state championship matches.

Her free kick goal beat Lyons 1-0 in the 2021 Class 3A state championship game.

That season was thought to be an outlier after the entire previous year was wiped out by the pandemic.

That O’Fallon victory completed a three-game state championship sweep by St. Louis schools, following the Class A victory of Althoff and the Class AA championship of Triad.

Triad followed up with another state championship last year, beating Benet in the final.

The double overtime victories Saturday of Glenwood over Benet, and O’Fallon over Barrington are telling and deeper indicators of the shifting power dynamics throughout the state.

In the first 14 years of the girls’ state tournament series, University (Normal), which was also the Class A state champion this season, was the only program outside of Chicago to qualify for a state championship.

Significantly, that year (2001) marked the advent of the two-class system.

It was not until 2006, in Class A, that two teams from outside the Chicago area — Rockford Lutheran and Gibault — played for a state championship.

In 2010, Notre Dame (Quincy) defeated Manteno in Class A, and Althoff beat St. Viator in Class AA.

Those were the first examples of a downstate program beating a Chicago-area school in a state championship game.

In 2011, Granite City defeated Naperville North 1-0, a milestone game with the first victory by a southern Illinois program over a Chicago powerhouse in the large-school division.

Naperville North, New Trier and Barrington dominated the next decade, combining for eight consecutive state championships.

Now, O’Fallon can be mentioned in the same breath with two state titles in three years.

Perspective and balance are called for, given the two state championship games decided Saturday both required double overtime.

Barrington was arguably the better team in the two overtime periods until Tredway’s electrifying assist set up the McMinn goal.

O'Fallon's play earned the top spot in the Final 50.

Teams from outside Chicagoland have won eight of the last nine state titles in the past three years.

Now the question is: how will Chicago-area programs with state championship aspirations respond?

We eagerly await next spring to find out.


Key: FRSR-final regular-season ranking; PR-Preseason First 50 ranking; NR-not ranked; HM-honorable mention: I10-Illinois 10 final ranking; A-Class A Super 7 poll final ranking; AA-Class AA Super 7 poll ranking.

Rank Team FRSR First 50 rank Record Comment
1 O'Fallon 3 (I10) 22 21-3-1 Kiley McMinn delivers another GW title-goal
2 Barrington 2 2 23-1-2 Fillies a state fixture
3 Plainfield N 5 3 23-2-2 Tigers suffer PK loss to 3A champ
4 Metea Valley 1 1 19-1-3 Mustangs had great 2-year run
5 Lyons 3 4 21-2-1 Lions are loaded with underclass talent
6 Naperville N 4 12 13-6-1 Claire DeCook a player for the ages
7 Glenwood 2 (I10) 26 22-4-1 Twins lay down the Law for Titans
8 Libertyville 16 23 18-3-2 Krakowski sisters are 1-2 punch
9 New Trier 9 5 23-4-1 Trevians return to lofty perch among elite
10 St. Charles N 6 9 17-4-2 Bella Najera is a one-of-a-kind talent
11 St. Charles E 12 8 20-4-0 Saints couldn't buck cross-town foe
12 Fremd 10 29 17-4-1 Stacked with young, gifted talent
13 Evanston 7 13 19-3-1 Jocelyn Leigh will lead way in '24
14 Lane 17 32 15-5-2 Grace Carman is top-3 state soph
15 Benet 15 10 21-5-0 Another excruciating near-miss in state final
16 Rochester 6 (I10) NR 19-4-2 Tied O'Fallon, 1-0 loss to Glenwood in sectional final
17 Edwardsville 1 (I10) 21 18-4-0 3 losses to 3A champ
18 Wheaton North 14 NR 14-6-2 Zoey Bohmer, Jane Rogers eye big 2024 campaign
19 LW East HM NR 21-6-0 First state trophy in program history
20 LW Central 8 6 18-2-2 Flush with young talent for future success
21 Lockport 11 19 21-3-1 Made a statement in the south suburbs
22 CL Central 1 (AA) 27 19-4-0 First state trophy in program history
23 Hinsdale Central HM NR 16-8-2 Stunned Lyons in sectional final
24 Geneva 13 38 18-6-1 Blessed with intriguing young talent
25 Granite City 5 (I10) NR 14-4-1 Only Illinois team to beat O'Fallon
26 Glenbrook N 18 20 13-4-2 Spartans were a model of consistency, toughness
27 Loyola 19 14 11-7-3 Ramblers took New Trier to brink
28 Notre Dame (Peoria) 7 (I10) NR 17-4-2 Took Benet to 2 OT in supersectional
29 Naperville C 23 16 9-6-1 Megan Norkett closes out spectacular run
30 Geneseo 10 (I10) NR 16-5-2 A consistently strong, vibrant program
31 Oswego E 21 7 12-7-2 Anya Gulbrandsen made school scoring history
32 York 22 NR 15-4-2 Dukes jumped up to join elites
33 Hersey 24 39 13-8-1 Huskies pushed Barrington to the limit
34 Stevenson HM 24 14-6-1 Patriots are loaded with young, versatile talent
35 Morton (Ill.) 9 (I10) NR 13-4-2 A model of consistency in the Peoria area
36 Boylan 4 (AA) 43 20-3-0 Sectional finalist brims with young talent
37 Warren 25 31 10-6-3 Addison Stanciak is transformational talent
38 Lake Forest HM NR 11-7-4 Scouts make a stand in tournament run
39 Richwoods 8 (I10) NR 19-3-2 Knights experienced a breakthrough season
40 University (Normal) NR NR 17-8-2 Pioneers = Class A state champions
41 Alleman NR NR 15-4-1 Comes up just short in A state finale
42 De La Salle 3 (AA) 49 17-5-5 Made school history with young talent
43 Andrew NR NR 16-8-0 Stunned LW Central in sectional semfinal
44 Deerfield 20 11 16-6-2 Junior Emily Fox already Warriors career scoring leader
45 Prospect HM 50 13-3-3 Knights were tough, physical, competitive
46 Herscher 1 (A) NR 20-3-0 Rewrote the school-scoring record book
47 Downers Grove South HM NR 16-4-1 Emily Petring a scoring whirlwind
48 Pleasant Plains (co-op) 2 (A) NR 27-3-1 Blessed with great young talent
49 Carmel HM 28 12-7-1 Emily Fix left her mark on program
50 Lemont 6 (AA) 18 17-6-1 Paige BIngren is a special talent