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updated: 6/18/2012 8:23 PM

Waubonsie Valley proves Class B champs can handle the upgrade

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By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

Grayslake North (20-3) will move to Class A next season after winning the Lacrosse Cup with a 12-5 victory over York.

While some programs have been devastated after winning the Lacrosse Cup, losing most of their starters due to graduation and then playing a tougher schedule with less experienced or talented players, Grayslake North should do just fine.

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"Contrary to past years, I don't see that much of a difference between the level of play at the top end of the Class B and the better Class A teams," Grayslake North coach Brad Fish said. "I think Waubonsie Valley illustrated that best, being one game away from the Class A state championship game this year, after winning the Class B against us last year."

While Waubonsie Valley had no trouble making the transition in classes, the results for other programs have been mixed in recent years. The 2010 champs, Wheaton North, really struggled this year, winning just once during a 1-11 campaign. St. Ignatius, the 2009 Lacrosse Cup champion, went 12-6 but were trounced in the playoffs by Waubonsie Valley, 20-3, and 2008 champs, Benet, had a strong 13-4 season before falling short to New Trier in the playoffs 11-2.

"I am confident we would do just fine against all the top programs in the state," Fish said. "We might not win all of them, but we're certainly at that level with most and maybe a step below the programs, such as Loyola."

The Knights will lose seven seniors, including standout Matt Schlagetter, but they will return AJ Fish, as well as Ben Smith and Brendan Walker, and a dozen or so others who saw ample playing time this spring.

"I think we will do just fine," Fish said. "The JV and freshman teams coached by Kevin Ball and Jim West had great seasons so the future is bright. When I took the job, it was a five-year plan. It would have been nice to finish it last year in four, but this year was a very rewarding one for our program."

Calling all campers: New Wave Lacrosse is bringing several of its camps to local communities this summer. Many of these camps are being offered through park districts and are excellent for beginning players, those who are advanced, as well as those who finally are going to pick up a stick for the first time. Aurora, Elmhurst, Lombard, Hoffman Estates and Naperville are just a handful of towns where camps are being offered. Visit www.newwavelax.com for more information.

Additional camps are being offered by True Lacrosse. Visit www.truelacrosse.com for more information.

Virginia-Illinois connection: The University of Virginia is certainly going to get a lot of offensive firepower from the state of Illinois. Waubonsie Valley's Zach Wood and Graylslake North's AJ Fish, who finished 1-2 in total points this spring, have both committed, along with Wood's brother and teammate, Nick Wood. The three combined for 328 points.

High point: Wheaton Warrenville South senior Tyler Cook saw his high school athletic career come to a close on May 31 as the Tigers dropped an 11-5 decision to Class A state champion Loyola Academy in the semifinals.

Last fall, Cook was one of the key reasons why the Tigers turned things around after a 1-3 start to the football season. The Tigers went on to win their next nine games, knocking off Providence Catholic, stunning top seed Lincoln-Way East on the road and edging perennial powers East St. Louis and St. Rita before coming up short against Rockford Boylan in the Class 7A title game.

Cook will not play football next season, but will carry his stick on the lacrosse field for High Point University, a Division I program in North Carolina.

"He's smart, extremely coachable, fast and strong, and that separates him from most other high school athletes," Tigers coach Mike Blouin said. "He has great field sense, size and superior athleticism with a deadly left-hand shot on the run which make him a D1 talent on the lacrosse field."

Cook helped the football and lacrosse teams combine to post a 25-7 record.

NILAX All-Stars: Jacobs and Cary-Grove have dominated the NILAX league, particularly in recent years as they two teams have met in the championship game for three straight years.

Last Tuesday at Huntley, local players from Batavia, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, Downers Grove, Dundee Crown, Huntley, Marian Central and Prairie Ridge had a chance to team-up with their counterparts in an all-star game.

Team White, led by a 6-goal eruption from Downers Grove's Zach Pressley, beat Team Red 14-13.

Cary-Grove's Trevor Dorn paced Team Red. After helping lead Cary-Grove into the title game earlier this season, Dorn finished off his season in style, scoring the final goal of the game to make it a one-goal difference. He finished with 4 goals. Huntley's Todd Meyer added 3 goals in the losing effort.

A wonderful start: Bartlett finished its debut varsity season with a 7-7 record. The Hawks beat Maine South in their Class B playoff opener, but fell short 13-9 against a very strong O'Fallon team in the second round.

Look for the Hawks to continue to make great strides as they only had six seniors on this year's team, although three of them will continue to play at the next level.

"We finished at .500 and we got to the second round of the playoffs, so we're pleased with how we've progressed," Bartlett coach Mike Steichen said. "We almost went into overtime against York (in a 6-5 loss in April) and they went to the championship game."

Tyler Steichen was named an all-conference defender, Jake Fernandez was a second team selection in the midfield while Nick Andreucetti and Mike Coleantonio were also recognized as honorable mention selections.

"We're really seeing the growth with the youth programs that are coming in so the kids come in with a different skill set and more experience," Steichen said. "Each year we're getting more high-caliber kids who are playing with True Lacrosse or New Wave."

DuPage dominates: Players from a handful of DuPage area schools were dominating on the offensive side during Thursday's Class A all-star game at West Chicago. While Waubonsie Valley's Connor Mersch was most electrifying, scoring a game-high four times, the DuPage area accounted for 8 of the 19 goals. Neuqua Valley's Dario Rovito scored twice while Waubonsie Valley's Zach Wood and Wheaton North's Brendan Dunlap also added goals.

Character and respect:

Hoffman Estates had a tough spring, going just 1-15 and losing several close contests, dropping decisions to Geneva, Glenbard West, Highland Park, Schaumburg and Conant by 3 goals or less. While they didn't surprise any of the teams it faced, the players did surprise coach/defensive coordinator Eric Mills.

Mills was set to run the Greater Chicago Epilepsy 5K on May 12. What he didn't know was that Hoffman Estates coach Joe Garofalo had the team's players also register to run.

"We always try to teach character and respect for the game in addition to lacrosse and that Hoffman Estates lacrosse is a family," Garofalo said. "You do whatever you can to help your family out and sometimes just being there in support of them is what's most important. We were able to do that by participating in this run and also able to raise money for a great cause while help out the community as well. I was extremely proud of the whole team."

The team raised more than $700 for the Greater Chicago Epilepsy Foundation, which offers counseling, advocacy and educational services to people with epilepsy, their families and the communities in which they live.

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