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Elite players in the 1990 and 1992 age groups will compete in the 2009 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Girls Winter Interregional on Dec. 27-30 at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland, Miss.

Waubonsie Valley's Vanessa DiBernardo of America's Soccer Club will play for 1992's Region II team along with Neuqua Valley's Megan Oyster of Windy City Pride. Emily Oliver of Flossmoor and Katie Nasenbenny of La Grange also represent Windy City Pride -- and along with FC United's Amber Fry of Northfield -- they represent the five players from Illinois on the four-region roster.

Kelsey Mulcahy, a Neuqua Valley graduate and freshman defender for the University of Missouri, will play for the 1990's Region II squad. She will be joined by two other Illinois representatives -- the Eclipse's Nicole Lipp of Lake Forest and KUFC's Lizzy Niles of Elgin.

They will train and compete in front of national and leading collegiate coaches to maximize their exposure. US Youth Soccer is divided into four regions: Region I (East), Region II (Midwest), Region III (South) and Region IV (West) to assist in national competitions.

US Youth Soccer ODP is known as the premier identification and development program for the nation's youth seeking the opportunity to compete at the national, professional and collegiate levels of play.

Designed to identify and develop a pool of players from which U.S. national teams may be selected, US Youth Soccer ODP is the original ODP program. And it's the only elite player development program that can claim members of Major League Soccer and the former Women's United Soccer Association, as well as a majority of current and past national and youth team members, as alumni.

--Brad Engel

Five girls soccer players from Illinois made the 2009 Parade All-America Soccer Team.

Neuqua Valley's Alexa Gaul was one of three goalkeepers on the list, and Waubonsie Valley's Bri Rodriguez was one of 12 midfielders. Both girls are seniors.

The Benet girls soccer team is finding its luck coming up on the bad side so far this season. The latest case in point came Saturday in a 1-0 loss to St. Viator.

With fewer than two minutes remaining, the Redwings hit a shot that caught the under side of Viator's crossbar. The ball bounced straight down and was cleared away before Benet could tie the game.

Adding to the frustration of coach Henry Wind is that several of the Redwings' opponents have been able to get those breaks and score.

"Somehow we make one mistake, they work the ball in and score against us," Wind said. "We just need to find a way to score against some of these good teams. Right now we have no rhythm."

Benet (4-2-1, 2-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference) will look to do that next week against tough competition. The Redwings start with a Monday game against Wheaton Academy and, after a midweek ESCC game against Providence, open play in the Naperville Invitational.

Poll surprises

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Waubonsie Valley's upset loss against Naperville Central last week hurt the Warriors tremendously in the eyes of the nation's girls soccer coaches.

The Warriors, who entered the season ranked No. 1 by the coaches' association, fell out of the top 20 after suffering their first loss in 59 games.

Meanwhile, Neuqua Valley, which opened its season with a 1-0 victory over Naperville North, jumped to No. 8 in the poll released Tuesday. The Wildcats improved from No. 19 in the preseason poll.

The question is, does this poll -- or any national high school ranking -- matter? The teams often downplay any significance. And, really, who knows for sure if current No. 1 St. Pius of Atlanta, Ga., is better than Waubonsie or Neuqua. It's not like the teams ever play each other.

So what do you think of the rankings?

Neuqua Valley 1, Naperville North 0
Neuqua 0 1 -- 1
North 0 0 -- 0
First half: No scoring.
Second half: 1, Neuqua, Oyster (Doyle), 42nd minute.
Saves: Neuqua, Suther, 4 and Gaul, 4; North, Mahmud, 6.
Shots: Neuqua 10, North 13.
Corner kicks: Neuqua 1, North 5.

Naperville Central 1, Waubonsie Valley 0
Waubonsie 0 0 -- 0
Central 0 1 -- 1
First half: No scoring.
Second half: 1, Central, Maddi (Rubin), 78th minute.
Saves: Waubonsie, Hanold, 2; Central, D'Amico, 3.
Shots: Waubonsie 8, Central 3.
Corner kicks: Waubonsie 3, Central 2.

It's still a ways off, but folks are already getting excited about the April 20 girls soccer match between Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley.

The reason, other than it's the latest installment in the District 204 rivalry? Neuqua is garnering national attention already and many are pointing to the Wildcats as a team that could knock off the Warriors, the nation's top-ranked team and two-time defending state champions.

Neuqua coach Joe Moreau isn't biting, even though his squad is ranked No. 19 by the nation's coaches and No. 6 in another national poll.

"It's preseason rankings and they really don't mean anything," Moreau said. "We don't even talk about it. Obviously the attention, and rightfully so, should be on Waubonsie Valley. They're loaded and they've got everyone back. We're still playing with different formations in practice, so I'm not too concerned about a preseason ranking."

With Injuries keeping three expected starters on the sidelines, Waubonsie Valley showed once again how much depth the girls soccer program has in its season-opening victory at Wheaton North on Monday.

Freshmen Shannon Donelson and Tina Tomaras started and a handful of other newcomers saw action in the game for the Warriors, who are ranked No. 1 in the nation in two polls.

"It felt we had good chemistry, which is good with all the new girls on the team," senior Catherine McClellan said. "It's good for them because they get that first game under their belts and then they can start to feel better about playing. I'm sure they were probably a little nervous at first."

Waubonsie, which extended its unbeaten streak to 59 games (57-0-2), played without senior Bri Rodriguez, and sophomores Hannah Klancic and Jessica Price.

Donelson made her presence known early, stopping a Falcons shot at the goal line to save a goal in the sixth minute.

ESPN Rise released its preseason girls soccer poll and Waubonsie Valley tops the list. The two-time defending state champions are said to be poised for a third straight title.

Neuqua Valley also made the poll, landing at No. 10.

If you're looking for when these teams first meet this season, it's April 20 at Neuqua.

Naperville Central junior Taylor Heatherly has recently given a verbal commitment to play soccer at Baylor.

Heatherly, a Sun All-City defender last season, narrowed her choices to Baylor, Georgetown and Yale before commiting to Baylor, located in Waco, Texas.

The Bears are coached by Marci Jobson, who is in her first year after leading Northern Illinois for the past three seasons. Jobson has an even closer tie to the area: she's from St. Charles and played for the Saints during their championship runs in the 1990s.

Another interesting trivia bit about Jobson: she scored the game-winning goal in the 1994 state championship game Her opponent? Naperville Central.

A foot injury continues to keep Neuqua Valley senior Alexa Gaul from her goalie position with the U.S. U-17 Women's National Team at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.

But the U.S. soccer team is winning without her, thanks to South Elgin's Taylor Vancil, who has started in place of Gaul. The U.S. defeated Korea Republic 4-2 in the quarterfinals over the weekend.

Next up for the U.S. is Germany in the semifinals early Thursday morning. Game time is midnight here, but 7 p.m. in New Zealand. You can follow the team's progress here.

U17 World Cup update

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Technical problems in New Zealand prevented Neuqua Valley senior Alexa Gaul from transmitting her first blog entry for The Heat Index. But that's the least of the concerns for Gaul, the goalie for the U-17 U.S. women's national team competing in the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup.



Brad Engel

Brad Engel is the longest-tenured member of The Sun sports staff and has won several national and state awards in his coverage of preps as well as the Chicago Bears, Chicago Fire and general sports.

Patrick Mooney

Patrick Mooney covered politics, prep sports and professional baseball for several print and online media outlets before joining The Sun in August 2007. He concentrates on prep sports, writing features, profiles and breaking recruiting news.

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