Recognize: Metro St. Louis

ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in the metro St. Louis area:

Field Hockey -- MICDS
If sports is all about perseverence, then the MICDS girls
are already champions. But on the field, that's the one
achievement that has been beyond reach for the Rams.
"We've been real close," says coach Lynn Mittler. "We've
been in the last two championship games and we've gotten
closer each time." Yes, MICDS has made it to the last
two Midwest Championship finals only to lose, including a
double-overtime 2-1 heartbreaker at the hands of
Duchesne last year, but Mittler is excited because she has
a super-talented roster to work with this season and the
team is motivated by the close calls. Juniors Caroline
Stephens and Ellie Thiemann are capable of scoring and
making plays for others, but the Rams will rely on their
senior leaders to get over the hump. Defense figures to be
the team's strength, with senior goalkeeper Jenelle
Francis operating behind senior midfielders Lauren
Kramer and Maggie DesPain (the defensive anchor,
according to Mittler). Senior midfielder Elizabeth Galanis
is one of the most talented two-way players in the area,
and she's also the captain of this focused squad. "All the
seniors want to be the team that finally breaks through,"
says Mittler. With all the pieces in place and back-to-back
runner-up trophies spurring them on, MICDS might finally
have what it takes to finish the job and win it all.

Boys' Cross Country -- O'Fallon
The Panthers were good last year, when their young talent was just blossoming. Now that runners like Josh Parkinson,
Michael Scolarici and Matt Coon have experience to go with their ability, O'Fallon is a team to watch when the Illinois
state meet comes around. Parkinson, a senior, ran a 15:45 at states last year, and Coon, also a senior, ran a 15:58.
Sophomore Scolarici is improving rapidly, and he checked in at 15:47 last year.

Girls' Volleyball -- Edwardsville
Edwardsville is gunning for a second consecutive Southwestern Conference title, and senior Kayla Fitterer is leading
the charge for the Tigers. The 6-foot outside hitter was an all-around terror last year, racking up 382 kills and 394 digs as
Edwardsville ran to the Illinois Class 4A regional finals. Teaming up with senior middle blocker Megan Sharpe, Fitterer
has Edwardsville right back in the thick of things.

Boys' Soccer -- Fort Zumwalt West
After graduating their top two players from last year, some might have expected the Jaguars to take a step backward, but
the team's remaining players are not ready to give in, especially on defense. Senior Dan Frohock is one of the best defensive
players in St. Louis, and the team is able to game plan around his ability to stifle top scorers. Senior sweeper Tom Vincenc helps
make Fort Zumwalt West's back line hard to crack.

Breakout Teams

Patriots advanced to quarters at state tourney last year, and senior Laura Richardson is for real.

Junior Jake Lamke is an ESPN RISE All-Area first team selection.

Sophomore Sami Kahn is talented enough to make the Vivettes Class 1 contenders.

Senior Maurice Alexander is a terrifying blur on defense.