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: Crystal Lake Central (1), Plainfield South (2), West Aurora (3), Highland Park (4), Lockport (5), Fenwick (6), Rockford Guilford (7), Glenbard East (8), Dundee-Crown (9), Lincoln-Way West (10), Glenbard West (12), Huntley (13), Andrew (14), Riverside-Brookfield (15) and Herscher (16).

Top players (college in parenthesis): Crystal Lake Central midfielder Madie Rokos (Wisconsin-Whitewater); Plainfield South defender Ciara Coneset (Central Michigan); Fenwick midfielder Lauren Stibich (Illinois); West Aurora midfielder Riley O’Brien (Illinois State); Lockport midfielder Stephanie Quigley (St. Ambrose); Glenbard East defender Katie Hansen (Montana), goalie Faith Davies (UIC); Andrew forward Sam Termunde (Saint Xavier); and Riverside-Brookfield goalie Emily Graham (Purdue).

Top teams: Crystal Lake Central is not a typical No. 1 seed. The Tigers spread the wealth and don’t have a star player, but rely on a strong mix of seniors and underclassmen. Plainfield South returns a key core and is hungry after losing in a PepsiCo Showdown title game last April. West Aurora and Highland Park, two talented programs in 2017, have played tough early-season schedule, only to come up on the wrong end. Will their luck change?

Keep an eye on: Glenbard East has three players set to play in college in Hansen, Davies and defender Mattie Pusateri (Carroll University). The Rams return nine starters from last season’s 14-5-4 team. Through seven games this season, the Rams are 6-1.
Interesting note: Andrew junior goalie Gabby Sportiello recorded her 40th career win in a 5-0 win over Leyden at Toyota Park on March 25, which is the most in the program’s history.

Did you know: Glenbard West soccer coach Morgan Kasperek is looking to double her pleasure this spring. As the head girls basketball coach of Glenbard South, Kasperek guided the Raiders to a third-place trophy in Class 3A this season – the program’s first basketball trophy. The Hilltoppers (10-7-3 in 2017), which lost to Nazareth in a PepsiCo Showdown title game last season, have a strong backline led by defenders Teagan Ryan, Annie Gelfer and Catherine Cavanagh to go with goalie Rose Mugnani.

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