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Team preview: St. Charles North

By Curt Herron, 05/31/24, 9:15AM CDT


After St. Charles North finished second in Class AA in the two-class system in 2004 and then had a third place showing in 3A in 2010 and another runner-up finish in 2012 all under coach Ruth Vostal, it looked like the program might be making semi-regular state finals appearances.

But that wasn't the case. The North Stars fell a win shy of a return to the Final Four in 2013 and then again for four-straight years from 2016-2019 under new coach Brian Harks. After falling 5-3 in the supersectional round to Barrington last season, St. Charles North's players were determined to avoid another near miss in 2024.

The North Stars (17-2-5) rallied to beat Naperville Central 2-1 on Tuesday at their own supersectional to earn their fourth state appearance. They face Fremd (16-4-4) in Friday's 6 p.m. Class 3A semifinal match at North Central College in Naperville.

New Trier (23-2-4) meets Edwardsville (17-3-1) in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Winners advance to Saturday's 6:30 p.m. championship while losers meet for third on Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

St. Charles North trailed Naperville Central 1-0 at halftime but senior midfielder Juliana Park scored shortly after the break and senior forward Laney Stark put her team up for good a few minutes later to help North win its eighth match in a row and improve to 10-0-1 in its last 11 contests.

The North Stars outscored their five playoff opponents by a 13-2 margin and won three-straight matches by one goal to face a Vikings team that also had a good run of success a few years back and is making its first trip to state since 2011.

St. Charles North followed a 5-0 win over Willowbrook with a 3-0 title victory over the host team in the Batavia Regional. Then it was on to the South Elgin Sectional, where the North Stars edged rival St. Charles East 1-0, marking their second 1-nil win over their cross-town rival this season.

The North Stars captured the 11th sectional title in program history with a 2-1 victory over Wheaton North and then had to fight off a tough challenge from the Redhawks, who won what many considered to be the state's toughest sectional despite being the seventh-seed.

"It has been 11 seasons since the North Stars have been downstate. In that time, we have made it to a supersectional six times with unsuccessful outcomes," Harks said. "This team's ability to break through that imaginary barrier on the seventh try is truly impressive.  

"This group's success so far is a culmination of the players and coaches before them who have set the standard, continued to raise the bar, and have lived up to the rich tradition of St. Charles soccer. The current players have put in the work, on and off the field, and they are deserving of this opportunity to showcase their skills in the Final Four. "

St. Charles North went 6-0-4 to start the season, which included 6-0 victories over Burlington Central and Crystal Lake Central, who meet in Friday's Class AA semifinals. Then it lost two of three before beating the Fighting Saints 1-0, which started the current stretch of success where it's unbeaten in its last 11 matches with a 1-1 draw with Lincoln-Way East the only non-win.

Stark leads the team in both goals with 17 and assists with 12, while Park has scored 15 goals and has handed out six assists. Senior midfielder Kayla Floyd has 12 goals and nine assists.

Senior forward Megan Hines (six goals, four assists), junior forward Kaitlin Glenn (five goals, five assists), senior forward Rian Spaulding (five goals, four assists) and sophomore forward Kaitlyn Nudera (five goals) round out the North Stars' other top scorers.

Sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Korioth has an 0.83 GAA in 24 matches and has 66 saves. Captains on the team are junior defender Chloe Kirsten, Floyd and Spaulding. 

Harks has won six sectional titles in the past eight seasons and has an impressive 149-19-16 record. He is assisted by Eric Willson, Stephanie Dodd, Claudia Najera and Ryan Cordon.