By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
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Mike Beatty Neuqua Valley
The senior was a very smart player who possessed great field vision as well as attention to his teammates for a Neuqua Valley team which finished by winning five of its last six games. "What made him so good is he could beat a defender and then if they tried to counter his move, it opened left Pete Scavetta and other middies open," Wildcats coach Mark Cummings said. Beatty led the Wildcats in goals (52), ground balls (46) and assists (43). He'll attend Colorado State in the fall.
Lee Brown Grayslake Central
If you were the star offensive threat facing Grayslake Central, you generally were marked by standout Lee Brown who was impressive in appearance alone at 6-foot-4 and more than 200 pounds. "He's so smart and knows where to manipulate the stick so he controls how the attackman goes," Grayslake Central coach Pete Olszewski said. "He was our leading groundball guy and had 21 in one game alone and had over 100 on the season." Brown possessed quickness and utilized it in transition with 10 assists. "He was a huge part of our defense and transition to our offense," Olszewski said. "When he picked up his speed, he was going. No one is going to catch Lee Brown when he turns on the jets."
Trace Evans St. Charles
Get ready Colorado State, you're getting a player who is a lot of fun to watch play. Few players have put in the hard work year-round throughout their high school career like Evans has, which helped him get named second team all-state. "Trace is an undersized guy, but plays like he is 6-foot-4," St. Charles coach Andy Thompson said. "He's so much fun to watch. Trace is very aggressive and an energetic player on the field. His teammates feed off of his style of play." A great communicator on the field who simply loves playing the game, Evans caused 24 turnovers and collected 80 groundballs. He was also named defensive MVP for a St. Charles team that advanced to the Elite Eight.
A.J. Fish Grayslake North
This second-team all-state selection was the only sophomore to receive such an honor. Fish led the state in scoring with 141 total points. He had 77 goals, 64 assists and 96 ground balls for a Grayslake North team that finished as the runner-up in the Lacrosse Cup. "He was a legit two-way threat playing midfield and attack, rarely coming off the field for the Knights," Graylake North coach Brad Fish said. "A tireless competitor with tremendous upside, a winner in every sense of the word." Fish is also a leader in football, playing quarterback, and on the hardwood, as a basketball guard.
Tyler Fitzgerald Barrington
This senior is going to the University of Vermont but hasn't decided if he's going to continue playing lacrosse or hockey. He was certainly a standout in the cage for Barrington this season, making countless big plays to keep his team in contests. "He was our silent assassin," Barrington coach Chris Bluse said. "He always came up with big saves and he made saves that he shouldn't have made." His play in cage inspired the Barrington defense to play better as he was more of a quiet leader. In addition to his work in keeping the ball out of the net, Fitzgerald shined in making quick, precise outlet passes to get the Barrington transition game working.
Brian Goss St. Viator
The Goss story is one of the better ones in lacrosse. Midway through his freshman year in school, Goss didn't know much about lacrosse, let alone how to play it. Four years later and he's now getting ready to take his speed, release and the rest of his game to Division I Siena College in New York. "Brian has had a fantastic career for St. Viator and is someone that our younger players aspire to become," St. Viator coach Bill Sanford said. "He made a lot of really good defensemen and goalies frustrated this year and handled their adjustments really well. I've been fortunate to coach a lot of kids in different parts of the country and he is right up there with the best I have seen." Goss had 63 goals and 24 assists this season and finished with 153 goals and 70 assists for his career.
Jeremy Gottardo Jacobs
Jacobs was tough all spring and opponents knew it would be difficult to score often, especially if they got close to senior defenseman Jeremy Gottardo, who will continue his career at Augustana. "Jeremy was voted all-league two years in a row and routinely played against the opposition's most dangerous threat," Jacobs coach John Bigler said. "His stick checks were timed perfectly, as he probably caused 5-7 ball down situations a game while intercepting multiple passes each game. Opposing coaches knew where he was and game planned around him." He had 102 groundballs to help Jacobs post a 15-2 record and win a NILAX title.
Kevin Harris Stevenson
It's kind of scary to think that this senior was plagued with injuries all season but still was the heart and soul of Stevenson's defensive core and led in all defensive categories. Harris, Stevenson's team captain, was a second team all-state selection and will continue his playing career at Albany University next year. Prior to that, he'll be one of just three Illinois players who will join 93 other U.S. Lacrosse All-Americans at the end of July in a three-day showcase tournament in Florida as part of the ESPNRise games.
Mike Hoare Wheaton North
A short stick defensive middie usually doesn't possess outstanding stick skills, but that was one of the reasons Wheaton North's Mike Hoare had such a strong season for the Falcons. "He played very good defensively against everyone we played against," Wheaton North coach Chris Weed said. "He went against a lot of top guys and did a bang up job and provided a lot of explosiveness on transition. He's just a good kid and hard worker who grew into his role. I wish I had a team of Mike Hoares because these are the kids you want to coach."
Jacob Kazar Wheaton Warrenville South
The Tigers team captain was responsible all season for trying to slow the best each opponent had to offer. "He was our shutdown guy," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Blouin said. "He was matched up with every opponent's best attackman, frustrating and neutralizing some of the state's most prolific scorers. This second team all-state selection will continue to play lacrosse at the NCAA Division I level next year at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Matt Lord Hinsdale Central
Defense kept Hinsdale Central in a lot of games this spring and Matt Lord led a unit that had some impressive performances. The Red Devils kept teams to 6 goals or less in 11 of 16 contests this season. Highlights included limiting Palatine and York to a single goal, Conant, Hoffman Estates and Wheaton North to just 3 apiece and Naperville Central and a very good Lake Forest team to just four. Lord was a first-team all-conference selection, all-star and team co-captain. Lord forced 12 turnovers and gathered 48 groundballs.
Joey Martin Cary-Grove
This senior goalie made the routine saves look easy and the hard saves look routine. He didn't just do it a couple of times this season for Cary-Grove in the NILAX but had 135 saves on 200 shots. "Joey had a 68 percent save percentage and only allowed 3.9 goals per game, despite facing many shots, from close range, every day," Cary-Grove coach Tim Moony said. "Absolutely amazing." Martin was also a first-team all-conference selection..
Pat McGushin St. Charles
Where do you begin to list the accolades for this senior All-American? The two-time all-star and team captain at St. Charles finished with a 61 percent save percentage and 85 percent clearing percentage this spring. After considering many college offers, McGushin chose Stony Brook over Syracuse. "It has been an honor to coach Pat over the last four years," St. Charles coach Andy Thompson said. "His awards on the field are very special, but the respect that he has earned from his teammates and coaches will overshadow those awards. Pat did everything that was asked of him at St. Charles and will be missed because of his leadership, commitment to the game and his work ethic."
Connor Mersch Waubonsie Valley
All-American Zach Wood garners so much attention, and deservedly so, but he had some very good players around him this season to give the team a balanced attack. Connor Mersch was a player who rose to the occasion all season. "He really came on at the end of the season," Waubonsie Valley coach Mike Julius said. "Teams would focus on Zach Wood and he would light them up. He did that in the championship." Perhaps most impressive about Mersch was his ability to ride on others on clears. "That was something that really inspired the guys, when they can hustle and ride really hard, that's something for attackmen. He found his niche."
Conner Murphy St. Viator
This senior finished third in voting for all-state at the long stick midfielder position, and that's after he spent his junior year on close defense. "His play elevated that of his defensive teammates and we were one of the best defensive teams in the state because of his leadership," St. Viator coach Bill Sanford said. "He was also a threat in transition for us and scored a few goals in settled offense." Murphy had 10 goals and 10 assists this spring and finished with 297 ground balls in his career. "He was the co-MVP of our team and will be hard to replace next year," Sanford said.
Sam Prete Wheaton Warrenville South
Wheaton Warrenville South's long stick midfielder Sam Prete had a lot to do with the Tigers' wonderful season that saw them advance to the Elite Eight in the A-Class postseason. "A high-energy, impact player in all phases of the game," Tigers coach Mike Blouin said. "Sam was one of the best takeaway defenders in the state." Prete, a junior, had 119 ground balls, 12 assists and 2 goals. Named second team all-state and first team all-conference.
Ryan Solon Geneva
Geneva had quite a season for a young program this spring. One of the big reasons for the Vikings making great strides, which included a 12-3-1 record in the IHSLA and advancing to the Elite Eight in the B-Class playoffs, was the play of senior Ryan Solon. "He's an All-American kind of kid," Geneva coach Rick Nobregas said. "Very coachable, but also has some great ideas too." Solon had more than 50 goals and 90 ground balls this season. "He could've started on any 'A' team," Nobregas said. "He is very humble. He was our star player but didn't act like it. He worked hard and led by example."
Conor Stout-Shoger Naperville North
Whenever the Huskies needed a goal this season, Conor Stout-Shoger did his part to try to score it for a Naperville North team that made a nice run in the post-season before losing to Lyons in the quarterfinals. "We just got back from Ohio and he made the all-American team, so the odds of him going Division I are very high, so that tells you the type of player he is," Naperville North coach Kevin Benages said. Stout-Shoger was a four-year starter for the Huskies.
Ryan Sullivan Palatine
Palatine yielded 6 goals or less in 13 of its 17 IHSLA games this season as Ryan Sullivan led a stingy defensive unit. "He was the backbone of the Pirates defense this season," Palatine coach Heath McFaul said. "He has exceptional vision and field presence, as well as the ability to virtually shut down any offensive threat from the opposing team." Sullivan led the Pirates in takeaways and ground balls for the second straight season and his combination of size, strength and quickness have made him marketable at the collegiate level.
Zach Wood Waubonsie Valley
The accolades keep piling in for Zach Wood, a Metea Valley student-athlete who scored six times in the Lacrosse Cup to bring Waubonsie Valley its first lacrosse championship with the Lacrosse Cup. Wood has committed to Virginia and was an All-American selection. For his many accomplishments and ability to lead the Warriors to the B-Class title, he was named the honorary captain of the Daily Herald 2011 all-area team.
Jacob Beckman, Prairie Ridge; P.J. Bogle, St. Charles; Scott Brown, Waubonsie Valley; Matt Cassella, Cary-Grove; Joe Cella, Geneva; Collin Chatten, Grayslake North; Evan Chikeles, Hoffman Estates;Tyler Cook, Wheaton Warrenville South; Alex Crescenti, Jacobs; Reilly Dixon, Wheaton North; Kevin Eikeland, Jacobs; Sean Embree, Hinsdale Central; Blake Erwin, Waubonsie Valley; Seth Fuller, Wheaton Warrenville South; Kevin Gill, Glenbard; Rob Grosskopf, Cary-Grove; Colin Haley, St. Charles; Mac Haug, St. Viator; Patrick Henderson, Benet; Chad Holsworth, St. Viator; Tim King, Downers Grove; Evan LaPoe, Waubonsie Valley; John Livingston, Aurora Christian/Batavia; Danny Loyall, Naperville Central; John Luehrsen, Libertyville; Evan Mack, York; Austin Marison, Palatine; Patrick Marvin, Aurora Christian/Batavia; Kyle McGrath, Wheaton Warrenville South; Sam Mesi, St. Viator; Owen Meyer, Glenbard West; Jesse Nagelberg, St. Charles; Danny O'Malley, St. Viator; Emmet O'Malley, Conant; John Ostrom, Naperville Central; Brandon Peterson, Wheaton Warrenville South; Jake Pritscher, Conant; Parker Rechsteiner, Wheaton Warrenville South; Quinn Regan, Barrington; Nick Rodgers, Waubonsie Valley; Luke Rossi, Barrington; Matt Sambo, Wheaton North; Ryan Spitzer, Stevenson; Max Rubin, Naperville Central; Austin Savage, Neuqua Valley; Peter Scavetta, Neuqua Valley; Nate Serviss, Fremd; Matt Schlagetter, Grayslake North; Colin Smith, Marmion; Alex Sokolowski, Naperville Central; Grant Soucy, Lake Zurich; Ryan Steele, Jacobs; Drew Stoffer, Palatine; Brian Sullivan, St. Charles; Holden Taylor, Cary-Grove; Peter Trunk, St. Viator; Brett Zentner, Barrington
All-area selections and profiles by Chris Walker