By Bob Narang

The 16th Annual PepsiCo Showdown Girls is a high school sporting event unlike any other, featuring 96 high schools, 2,500+ girls soccer players, more than 200 communities and nearly 200 games in an eight-day span.

And to top it off, all of those teams and players are at Olympic Park in Schaumburg on back-to-back Saturdays – starting with 48 games on April 7 for Opening Day and finishing with a massive celebration on April 14 for Championship Saturday.

This spring, PepsiCo Showdown girls players will make a difference in the lives of 96 children from military families. Each event, the PepsiCo Showdown brackets are named after a local charity/nonprofit to bring awareness, engagement and exposure to that cause. This time, however, the brackets are named after the U.S. Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard.


Miss the LIVE seeding show? CLICK HERE to see WGN-TV coverage. 

The teams, the seeds: Plainfield East (1), Wheaton North (2), Elgin (3), Crystal Lake South (4), Jacobs (5), DeKalb (6), Glenbard South (7), Maine West (8), Lincoln-Way East (9), Niles West (10), Hinsdale South (11), Morton (12), Willowbrook (13), Homewood-Flossmoor (14), Young (15) and Eisenhower (16).

Top players (college in parenthesis): Plainfield East goalie Olivia Jenkins (Xavier); Wheaton North midfielder Kailee Sowers (Rochester); Crystal Lake South midfielder Cam Sengstock (Winona State); DeKalb midfielder Maddie Hill (Wisconsin-Oshkosh); Lincoln-Way East goalie Maria Fields (Benedictine); Willowbrook midfielder Sarah Poirer (Monmouth); and Eisenhower forward Isis Bejarano (South Suburban)

Top teams: Led by a strong group of seniors, Plainfield East opened the season by ending DeKalb’s nine-year title run in the Barbfest. Wheaton North is relying things will start to turn a corner thanks to a deep and talented roster and the benefits of playing a tough early-season schedule. Crystal Lake South returned just four starters from last season’s 19-2-1 team and is still trying to find a way to replace nearly 75 percent of its scoring.  

Keep an eye on: Say hello to DeKalb. The Barbs are loaded with talent. In all, DeKalb has four college-bound players. Forward Bella Bettner and midfielder McKenna Wallin are teammates this year, and they will be at the college level (Carthage College), too.

Did you know: Hinsdale South is not short on captains this season. The Hornets have five captains – Abbi Mazurek, Patricija Miskinyte, Kendra Rees, Alexis Kotsiantos and Gina Cavalli. Mazurek is set to play for Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota, and Rees will play for Wisconsin-Stout.

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