Commentary

2012 Girls' Midwest Region Preview

Updated: February 28, 2012, 12:11 PM ET
By Mike Loveday

Meredith Abrahamson, Loyola AcademyJimmy Hurlburt/ESPNHSESPNHS 100 senior Meredith Abrahamson will lead Loyola Academy (Ill.) in 2012.
There are a few certainties in the midwest region: Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) will be a FAB 50 program to start the year and will play a tough national schedule, and Illinois will be the battleground for many of the programs vying for entry into the rankings this season.

Loyola gets the nod to start the year based on prior history, but New Treir (Winnetka, Ill.) is close behind followed by Medina (Ohio) as teams that should get ranked during the season.

Teams from Ohio and Minnesota will play the top teams from Illinois. This coupled with Loyola and New Trier's competitive travel schedules helps to compare the midwest with teams from the east and southeast regions.

The Starting Lineup

G: Laura Van Horn, New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.), undecided
D: Meg Rosinski, New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.), undecided
D: Isabelle Montagne, Jr., Lake Forest (Lake Forest, Ill.), Duke
D: Madeleine Walton, Sr., Episcopal School (Dallas), Syracuse
M: Meredith Abrahamson, Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.), Marquette
M: Meghan Bauer, Sr., Blake (Minneapolis), Harvard
M: Kelsey Gallagher, Sr., Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.), Ohio State
M: Lauren Hooker, Sr., East Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Marquette
M: Katie Keefe, Medina (Ohio), Ohio State
A: Kelsey Murray, Jr., New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.), Stanford
A: Brenna Carberry, Jr., Lake Forest (Lake Forest, Ill.), undecided
A: Maggie Fobare, Sr., Hockaday (Dallas, Texas), Northwestern

Sizing Up The Region

Illinois: Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) returns four starters from last year's 22-4 team. Northwestern commit Kirsten Ward leads the midfield and senior goalie Claire Byrne returns to a team that ranked in the top 10 in the state for defense. Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Ill.) reached the state final game last season and returns senior midfielder Alex Olsen who was selected to represent the Midwest at the Under Armour Underclassmen games. Lake Forest (Lake Forest, Ill.) finished 9-8 last season and boast two ESPNHS Top 50 juniors. Loyola Academy (Wilmette, Ill.) only graduated four seniors from last year's state championship team. Seven starters and six players who made the Midwest team at the 2011 Under Armour Underclassmen games return, including ESPNHS 100 midfielder Meredith Abrahamson and senior Kelsey Gallagher. The Ramblers defense should strong with its entire lineup returning, including junior Grace Foley and senior Margaret O'Brien. Mother McAuley (Chicago, Ill.) returns eight starters, including senior Michelle Dillon and goalie Karly Slatterty. New Trier (Winnetka, Ill.) boasts ESPNHS Top 50 Junior Kelsey Murray and returns five starters overall from last year's 19-3 team. Returning goalie Laura Van Horn, a two year starter who will play at Denison next year anchors an athletic defense, including returning starters Katy Weeks, Meg Rosinski and Eileen Harris.

Indiana: Culver Academy (Culver, Ind.) returns 10 starters from last year's 14-5 team, but the sideline will look slightly different with a new head coach. Susanna Wilcox, who has been co-head coach the past two seasons, takes over as head coach this season. George Washington commit Maeve McHugh returns. Fishers (Fishers, Ind.) returns 10 starters from a 9-4 club that lost in the regional finals by a score of 7-5 to eventual state champions Carmel. The club is bringing back six total defenders from the top ranked defense and the offense returns the entire attack and midfield from a team that averaged 10.92 goals per game.

Kentucky: Kentucky Country Day (Louisville, Ky.) finished as 2011 state runners-up after winning it all in 2010. The Kentucky Lacrosse Association Co-Midfielder of the Year Casey Bariteau graduated who scored five goals in the state championship game. Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.) is the defending state champion and returns senior Susannah Cregor was named the MVP of the state championship game. The Kentucky Lacrosse Association Co-defender of the Year, Sophie Ford, also returns.

Michigan: Brighton (Brighton, Mich.) returns every starter from last year's Division I state championship team. Lauren Burkhart (midfield) along with Franki Pollack (defense) will provide senior leadership. Junior Lauren Cole returns in goal after posting a .515 save percentage last season. Okemos (Mich.) returns eight starters from last year's team and will have its toughest schedule in school history. The Chieftans play state champions from Indiana (Carmel), Ohio (Medina) and Wisconsin (Arrowhead). Junior Bobbie Hall and seniors Nicki Tague and Chloe Zdybel return to the midfield.

Minnesota: The Blake School (Minneapolis, Minn.) has won back-to-back state championships and returns seven starters from the 16-0 team, including Harvard commit Meghan Bauer at midfield. Eden Prairie (Eden Prairie, Minn.) returns nine starters from the state runners-up, including Ohio State commit Christine Easton. Blake School and Eden Prairie have met for the state championship every year since 2007.

Missouri: John Burroughs (St. Louis, Mo.) won its final six games to win the state championship. The Bombers returns junior Rahny Longley who scored the game-winning goal on a bounce shot with only seven seconds left in regulation in the state championship game.

Ohio: Columbus Academy (Columbus, Ohio) won the 2011 Division II state championship, it's first state title since 2001 when it won the Division I state title. Hathaway Brown (Shaker Heights, Ohio) finished as Division II state runners-up last year after winning it all in 2010. The expected return of junior Annie Brockett should help the team vie for another title run in 2012. Medina (Ohio) will attempt to three-peat as Division I state champions this season and with 11 returning starters should be the favorite heading into the season. Sydeny Thomas graduates after a stellar career, but returning is senior midfielder Katie Keefe (Ohio State) and defender Christina Haston (Notre Dame College). Upper Arlington (Columbus, Ohio) returns nine starters from last year's state runner-up, but the biggest return may be on the sideline. Former head coach Wendy Pinta returns to coach a talented squad led by Jacksonville commit Sally Holbert (attack) and Oregon commit Lauren Drake (attack). Pinta posted a 213-78-12 career record as head coach at Upper Arlington from 1991 to 2007. Joining Pinta on the sideline is Sue Stimmel who was the head coach of The Ohio State University for 12 years.

Texas: Cy-Fair (Cypress, Texas) returns eight starters from last year's 16-2 team that finished as state runners-up. Team Captain and Wagner commit Casey McCarthy returns after scoring 55 goals and totaling 25 assists last season. Hockaday School (Dallas) returns seven starters from last year's 17-5 team. ESPNHS No. 58 senior and Northwestern commit Maggie Fobare returns to the midfield. The team will be young and head coach Elia Stanfield expects several underclassmen to contribute this season. St. John's (Houston) returns seven starters and 13 players overall from the team that won the Texas State Championship and the Southwest Preparatory Conference last season. Stanford commit, Alexa Mullins leads the defense.

Wisconsin: Arrowhead (Hartland, Wis.) is the two-time defending state champion and brings a nine game winning streak into the season. First team all-state selections Rachel Martell and Hannah Bird return and will anchor a team that returns seven starters from last year.

Underclassemen To Watch

(Position: athlete, year, high school (State), college commitment)

Attack: Megan Porter, Jr., Hockaday (Texas); Olivia Rabbitt, Jr., Culver Academy (Ind.); Anna Schueler, Jr., Loyola Academy (Ill.)

Midfield: Kelsi Carr, Jr., Culver Academy (Ind.); Katherine Eilers, Jr., Loyola Academy (Ill.), Notre Dame; Amanda Leavell, Jr., St. John's (Texas); Holly Meyer, Jr., Cy-Fair (Texas); Annie Morsches, Jr., Culver Academy (Ind.); Lydia Sutton, Soph., Blake School (Minn.); Emily Wechsler, Soph., Hockaday (Texas);

Defense: Grace Foley, Jr., Loyola Academy (Ill.); Megan Wolfgang, Jr., Medina (Ohio).

Defensive Midfield: Hollis Tardy, Jr., Hockaday (Texas);

Games To Watch

March 17: Cy-Fair (Texas) at Milton (Milton, Ga.)
March 31: Upper Arlington (Ohio) vs. Loyola Academy (Ill.)
April 11: St. John's (Texas) vs. St. Ignatius (Calif.)
May 5: Medina (Ohio) vs. New Trier (Ill.)

How This Region Affects The FAB 50

While the schedule is not set yet, Loyola Academy's participation in the Spring Fling in Alexandria, Va., goes a long way in helping determine the midwest rankings. Teams from the midwest, east and southeast converge for a mixer that helps determine where the Ramblers fall in the rankings. Combine that will Loyola's out of state play of teams like New Trier.