Top players: Tim Adelman (Sr., D), Lake Park, Kevin Anderson (Sr., GK), Naperville North, Max Auden (Sr., MF), Naperville North, Sam Bell (Jr., MF), Waubonsie Valley, Dan Burns (Sr., F), Wheaton Warrenville South, Jon Colucci (Sr., MF), Glenbard North, Cullen Cummings (Jr., F), Downers Grove North, Kyle Dal Santo (Jr., GK), Benet, Blake Erwin (Sr., D), Metea Valley, Tyler Ford (Sr., MF), Glenbard East, Hunter Hollingshead (Sr., GK), Neuqua Valley, T.J. Kubiesa (Sr., F), Hinsdale South, Ben Kucera (Sr., D), Cory Mosiman (Sr., M), Downers Grove South, Benet, Diego Munoz, (Jr., M), West Chicago, Isaac Oberlin (Sr., MF), Wheaton North, Michael Plant (Sr., D), Naperville Central, Mitch Reavis (Sr., MF), Hinsdale Central, Ryan Solomon (Sr., F), Metea Valley, Evan Trychta (Sr., F), Naperville North, Josh Urban (Sr., MF), Wheaton Academy, Tyler Yanisch (Sr., F), Waubonie Valley.
Top teams: Benet, Lake Park, Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley
Outlook: A year after stunning previously undefeated Neuqua Valley in the postseason, Naperville North returns as one of the top teams in the state with nine returning starters. All-staters Evan Trychta and Kevin Anderson return to lead the way along with standouts Max Auden, Lee Grander, Kyle Lindberg and Joe Sullivan among others. Junior Neil Wiaranowski looks to be the biggest new edition for the Huskies as he'll join Auden, Grander and junior Matt Vogel on defense. The Huskies will be shooting for their 20th conference title and look for another lengthy postseason run. Last year the Huskies went 21-4-2 and made it to the final four for the first time since 2002.
Naperville Central ran into Benet in the regional championship a year ago and saw its season come to a close with a 1-0 loss and an 11-7-1 record. The Redhawks were dominant defensively, allowing just 15 goals in 19 games, and they should be stellar once again with seniors Michael Plant and Sean Stevens leading the way. Other key returnees include midfielders Adam Hamielec, Patrick Flynn and Jack Patrick, forward Conner Allen and keeper Michael Pavliga, who had a 0.30 GAA in 2010. While the defense should be strong, finding a way to score enough to win is the big question. "Finding a player that can consistently put the ball in the net will be the key for us this year," Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said.
Neuqua Valley saw many of its standouts graduate and go on to Indiana University, Wisconsin and Dayton, among others, and the Wildcats only return two starters, one being goalkeeper Hunter Hollingshead. Also returning is midfield general Nick Smith. "I might actually have to coach this year," Neuqua Valley coach Tony Kees joked. "Good group of under-the-radar guys, though. Pretty na´ve but eager to learn. The hard part has been balancing between being realistic and not lowering our standards." The perennial power went 16-4-3 last fall and will look to as many as 11 seniors, many of whom played sparingly last year or not at all, to make contributions.
Waubonsie Valley will once again feature a lineup featuring a good share of juniors and seniors. Tyler Yanisch is back for his senior season, while junior Sam Bell will look to control the midfield. "Lots of juniors with varsity experience and looking forward to see their maturity from last year," Waubonsie Valley coach Angelo DiBernardo said. "Looking to improve our conference and overall records." The Warriors finished 10-11-1 last fall. The last of the Valleys is Metea Valley, which went 9-12-1 last season fielding a senior-less roster in their program's varsity debut. The Mustangs have plenty of seniors this season as well as talented juniors and underclassmen that should put them in the thick of things.
There's a few historical reasons why this will be a special season in Roselle. Hopefully, the Lancers can make it a successful one on the field of play. This fall marks the 40th year of varsity soccer at Lake Park, and it'll also be coach Norm Hillner's swan song, his 28th and final season. The Lancers return some scoring, 18 goals from 2010. Looks for Joe Passarelli, Nick Zanghi, Oliver Huerta and Mitch Corsten to be the team's scoring threats. Midfielder Tim Czesakis is trying to recover from a broken ankle and will be joined by Joe Keane and Giovanni Ciaccio in the midfield. Hillner expects three-year starter Tim Adelman to return to the backline with seniors Ryan Castello, Pasquale Maranto and Brian Fischer along with Pasquale Giovine in goal. The Lancers lose sophomores Mike Catalano and Luca Giovine to the Fire Academy, so their losses will be big, but with four returning starters and eight varsity players from last year, the Lancers look poised for a very competitive season.
Wheaton Academy lost six seniors to graduation, including all-stater Stephen Fernandes, but has senior midfielders Josh Urban and Brian McLean and keeper Jesse Carmody returning. "We have a strong but young team who will be committed to possession and hopefully compete for regional and sectional titles at the 2A level," Wheaton Academy coach Jeff Brooke said. The Warriors will once again have a tough schedule, which will include play in St. Viator's Mid-State Classic.
Glenbard East has a solid core of seniors returning and four starters as a whole. Seniors Tyler Ford, Kyle Ricely, Ian Leifhit, Gio Guerrero and Gabe Manoz will provide leadership on and off the field, while the Rams expect big things from juniors Ivan Surlina and Rodger Ochoa, as well as a mix of other upcoming sophomores and juniors. "The team is youthful and plays with energy," Glenbard East coach Josh Adler said. "The hope is to play fast and with patience on the ball. The team has a solid technical foundation and will find some ways to produce dangerous situations in the final third of the field."
Glenbard North has plenty of team experience, led by a great group of seniors who will be playing in their final season. Jon Colucci, who has led the team in scoring since his sophomore year, leads the way and will get some help from senior Ryan Anderson. Seniors Nick Callard and Dom Ferreri will look to anchor the back line for the third straight year and should get some support from fellow senior Chris Kortez. Juniors Ryan Scott and Patrick Walen bring tremendous competitiveness to the field and sophomores Hector Pineda and C.J. Koeller are expected to make strong contributions. The Panthers finished 9-7-5 last year.
Glenbard South won its first sectional title a season ago, capping a brilliant regular season. Matt Traynor, David Good and brothers Michael and David Pyle led the Raiders last year but have since graduated. Who will take over these prominent roles for the Raiders?
Viva La Italia! Downers Grove North sent 14 players on an Italian expedition this summer that included four friendly soccer matches against local Italian clubs. Junior Cullen Cummings emerged from the trip as a scoring threat, and he'll look to that role after playing a supporting role the past two years. Other top returners for the Trojans include Reid Melton, Zack Parik and Hugo Pacheco. Downers Grove North coach Brian Gervase also expects strong contributions from newcoming juniors Byron Perez, Jose Flores, Anthony Nix and Michael Raines. Downers Grove South only returns three starters, so the Mustangs will count on some newcomers to make a big impact. Seniors Cory Mosiman, Gabe Diaz are two of the returning starters in the midfield along with Joe Sombeck on the back line. Sophomore Andrew Grabavoy is one of the top newcomers.
"We're lacking experience because of graduation, but we have a good nucleus of young players," Downers Grove South coach Jon Stapleton said. "It's a new challenge, and the neat thing with youth and inexperience is you can see a lot of growth even in 10 days."
Wheaton Warrenville South returns seven starters and a handful of other players with varsity experience. Coach Guy Callipari hopes it will result in more success after a 7-13-2 season a year ago. "Although experience is not an absolute with regards to success, it paves the way when you're preparing for a short season and time is of the essence. We will have a good mix of veteran players which should help establish some continuity in our play early." Senior captains Dan Burns, Will Huesing and Alec Brazeau are expected to lead the way for the Tigers along with Joe Holz, Mike Kania, Max Carey and keeper Tim Reinders. Wheaton North only went 6-13-2 last year, but eight of those losses were by a single goal and only one was by more than two. While the Falcons were in just about every match last year, they need to find consistent scoring and they also will look quite different on the field after graduating 10 players, but they'll still feature a roster of 11 seniors this year. "We had a hard time last year of consistently putting it in the back of the net," Wheaton North coach Bryce Cann said. "I think we're going to try to figure out a way to put it in the net with more of a committee and get as many guys around there." Third-year player Isaac Oberlin, and seniors Robert Jaimes and Sam Klatt will try to lead the Falcons to more success in the wins column.
Benet turned it on late in the season, beating Naperville Central for a regional title before losing to Naperville North in a thrilling sectional semifinal match. Now the Redwings look to stay healthy and have a strong season from start to finish. Center back Ben Kucera and keeper Kyle DalSanto won't allow too many goals and starting defenders Brendon Gesior and Dan Coleman are also back. "We will be a much different team from the 2010 season," Benet coach Sean Wesley said. "Technically, we are much better. Our style of play should be better to watch and should lead to more possession than we had in 2010." Like many teams, can Benet find enough ways to score goals? Thomas Mojica and Brad Bozych return while Sam Knapke, Joey Chiariello, Robert Tomecek, Quinn Anderson and Alex Senak are players to watch.
Hinsdale South had a losing season (8-12-4) in 2010 but has considerable experience and talent returning to flip its record around. All-conference senior forward T.J. Kubiesa is back to lead a nice group of seven seniors, including Matt Schuster, Joey Gangi, Adam Garcia, Paras Patel, Matteo Hoch and Ernie Yanez. Coach James VanDenburgh also expects several newcomers to make an impact, including sophomore GianCarlo Cianelli. "We are looking to use the team chemistry developed over the summer and preseason to compete in an already tough conference," VanDenburgh said.
Timothy Christian, the 2009 Class 1A state champ, went 15-7 a year ago but fell short in defending its title. This fall it will have to replace the biggest pieces of its offense as 53 of its goals last season came from three players who have moved on via graduation or injury. Lisle, which won the Class 1A title in 2010, bid adios to Coach K (Paul Kororn) and welcomes Kevin Perez as coach. Perez isn't new to the program, having served as an assistant coach for the Lions.
-- Chris Walker