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updated: 8/30/2012 5:10 PM

Boys soccer/Fox Valley preview

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  • Elgin's Josue Chavez. right, passes the ball against Larkin last season.

      Elgin's Josue Chavez. right, passes the ball against Larkin last season.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Jacobs' Eric Soto is hugged by teammates after he scored a goal against Huntley last season. Soto is a senior and among the top returners for the Golden Eagles, who feature a roster with plenty of experience.

      Jacobs' Eric Soto is hugged by teammates after he scored a goal against Huntley last season. Soto is a senior and among the top returners for the Golden Eagles, who feature a roster with plenty of experience.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

Bartlett Hawks

Coach: Ben Beary

2011 record: 11-11-2, 2-3-1 (UEC Valley)

Top returning players: Seniors Carlos Avina (D), Matt Seidle (F), Zack Audy (MF)

Key newcomers: Juniors Justin Busch (GK), Juan Garcia (MF), Adam Jones (D)

Outlook: Seidle returns after scoring 6 goals and tallying 3 assists in 2011. Audy won the 2011 Hawk Award for team leadership. Beary likes the way his team's defense is shaping up. "Defense has been a major focus of emphasis and we are starting to see improvement there," he said. "We are also working hard to improve our possession game. We still have room for improvement in both areas, but we have already grown in these two areas since our summer season." Beary likes the team's prospects as the season wears on. "We are young team and expect to be steadily improving all season," he said. "We have a balanced team and a deep bench."

Burlington Central Rockets

Coach: Mike Gecan

2011 record: 12-7-5, 7-2-1 (second place BNC East)

Top players: Seniors Ian Graffagna (F), Brad Herron (D), Josh Lung (F), Drew McMahon (GK), Christian Moring (MF), Chris Rodriguez (MF), Bryce Warner (F), Brad Yarwood (D), juniors Sean Fitzgerald (F), Matt O'Connor (MF), Brett Rau (GK), Paolo Sespene (MF), Nolan St. John (GK), Austin VanAcker (D), sophomores Alan Camarena (MF), Chris Leberecht (MF), Nate McMahon (D)

Key newcomers: Senior Jon Boneta (GK), juniors Ryan DeTamble (D), James Raney (MF), Steven Saletta (D), Jacob Schutta (D), Jose Uribe (MF), sophomores Stefan Jochum (MF), Nate Moxness (D), freshmen A.J. Gouriotis (F), Cole Tecza (MF)

Outlook: Central returns five players that earned some sort of all-conference recognition in Yarwood (all-sectional), O'Connor, Sespene, Warner and Rodriguez. "We have a lot of strong and very fast players this year," said Gecan. "Our defense is extremely solid and our offense is growing each day. The players did a great job of developing their technical skills this past summer and we are hopeful that it will pay off early in the season." Gecan feels a strong season is there for the taking. "If we take pride in our work rate and continue to build relationships with each other on the field, the possibilities are endless," he said. "The key to our success will depend on how consistent we can play as a team. When we play our style of soccer, we will be a hard team to beat."

Cary-Grove Trojans

Coach: Mark Olson

2011 record: 17-3, 6-0 FVC Valley champions

Top returning players: Seniors Mike McKune (MF), Brian O'Connor (MF), junior Kevin Wilde (F)

Key newcomers: Seniors Michael Conway (D-MF), Steve Camporese (D), Kevin Schenk (GK), juniors Danny Chavez (F), Kevin Cooke (F), Joey Klawitter (F), Dale Oppasser (M-F), Tyler Szydlo (D), sophomores Josh Gratz (M-D), Charlie McKune (MF), Brad Sigsworth (D), freshman Brett Schuerg (MF)

Outlook: From the amount of newcomers listed, the Trojans are a team that will be on the youthful side this season. Olson noted the team has two returning starters and three with varsity experience. "Chemistry and how we come together as a team and how we gel on the field will be the key for us this year," said Olson. He also feels the conference is up for grabs. "It's a new year and everybody is 0-0," he said. "I think there is a lot of parity in our conference. Crystal Lake South, Jacobs, Dundee-Crown, Huntley, Prairie Ridge and McHenry will be in the hunt."

Crystal Lake South Gators

Coach: Brian Allen

2011 record: 13-9, 5-1 FVC Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Matt Alford (D), CJ Prell (D), Jack Carlson (D), juniors Sam Murdock (MF), Steven Follmer (GK), sophomore Orlando Tapia (F)

Key newcomers: Seniors Michael Conley (F), Angel Cardoso (MF), juniors Bobby Mayer (D), Gary Sexson (MF)

Outlook: Murdock is a returning all-conference player, while Tapia scored 3 goals and had 8 assists last year. "We return a veteran back line and goalie which hopefully will bring some consistency after now having a full season from last year under their belts and will have a more varied attack this year with numerous players capable of stepping up on any given day instead of relying on one or two players," said Allen, who added consistency will be a key for his team this year. "We need consistency and to grow each game and each week individually with our technique and as a team with our mental toughness and tactical awareness. An 80-minute work rate on both sides of the ball hopefully will set the tone for the year as this group's fitness has been at a high level early on as we have arguably our toughest schedule ever." South added the Barrington invitational to the slate and will play nonconference games against Prospect, Elk Grove and Neuqua Valley. Allen also sees a wide-open FVC Valley this year. "Numerous schools were hit hard by graduation," he said. "Jacobs likely returns the most from its regional championship team, but I think we will be right in the mix along with defending champion Cary-Grove as well as an always dangerous Dundee-Crown side."

Dundee-Crown Chargers

Coach: Rey Vargas

2011 record: 9-10-3, 2-4 FVC Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Christian Martinez (GK), Malik Washington (F), juniors Eduardo Arellano (D), Ben Stone (MF), Francisco Nava (D)

Key newcomers: Senior Adolfo Balleno (D), juniors Alex Ramirez (MF), Paul Buch (MF), Jose Angeles (F), Carlos Ramos (D), Jonathan Castillo (MF)

Outlook: While the Chargers are short on returning veteran players, they are not lacking potential. "This is a young and eager team," said Vargas. "They work and read each other well. We don't have a lot of returning players, but look to improve as the season goes on. We will look to continue our success from the previous season and look to improve our chances in the state tournament. We will be very competitive and will look to keep games close." Vargas sees many teams being competitive on a nightly basis in the conference. "I see every team in our division as a challenge and think that anyone can end up at the top of the conference," he said.

Elgin Maroons

Coach: Dave Borg

2011 record: 8-7-8, 2-3-1 (UEC River)

Top returning players: Seniors Josue Chavez, Oscar Rodriguez, Ed Perez (sweeper)

Key newcomers: Senior Antonio Escamilla, sophomores Eduardo Zavala (MF), Caleb Perez (sweeper)

Outlook: Chavez scored 13 goals last year and Rodriguez tallied 10 goals for the Maroons. Escamilla is a transfer from Larkin. He scored 19 goals last year. Borg likes his team's speed and experience. "We have a great bunch of kids," he said. "We hope to build on last year's success." Borg feels Batavia and St. Charles North are top-tier contenders in the conference."

Elgin Academy Hilltoppers

Coach: Juan Silva

2011 record: 6-6-1

Top returning players: Senior Brandon Perez (MF)

Key newcomer: Freshman Armando Sanchez (MF)

Outlook: Coach Silva is encouraged by a large influx of freshman talent to the team. There are seven freshmen on the varsity team to go with seven returning players. "Those freshmen play in traveling clubs and are very strong on technique," said Silva. "They all know what to do with the ball at their feet. They will help give support to players like Brandon." Silva is hopeful the Hilltoppers can improve on last year's mark. "We do have the talent," said Silva. "We have the opportunity to be better than last year. They all click on the field. We will be more competitive this year." Silva noted Chicago Latin School is the team to keep an eye on in the Independent School League.

Hampshire Whip-Purs

Coach: John Gosling

2011 record: 13-11, 5-1 FVC Fox co-champions with Johnsburg

Top returning players: Seniors Blake Starrenburg (CB), Michael Gonzalez (CB), Robert Lucio (CMF), junior Paul Novacovici (CMF)

Key newcomers: Junior Zack Suthers (F), Andrew Pederson (GK), Peter Panagakos (D)

Outlook: Hampshire returns five starters from last year's team. "They were very good role players last year and will be good leaders for our younger players," said Gosling. "We are a young team that will work from the starting whistle to the ending whistle." Gosling said the team is after a repeat conference championship, "and then get as far as we can in the postseason," he said. Hampshire is in search of its fourth regional title in five years. Gosling feels Johnsburg will again be a contender in the FVC Fox. "I think on our side of the FVC it will be Johnsburg and us again," he said.

Harvest Christian Academy Lions

Coach: Jason Acres

2011 record: 5-10-1 (no conference record)

Top returning players: Seniors Pat McGuire (GK), Chris De Sousa (F), Stu Wolff (F), Alex Reinhold (D), juniors Adam Salowitz (sweeper), Zach Harbaugh (MF)

Key newcomers: Freshmen Basilio Salazar (MF), Jacob Kells (D), Joe Hackl (D)

Outlook: Acres has plenty of reason to be excited for the 2012 season. "We are doing so much better than last year," he said. "A major strength for us will be the unity we play with. Technically we are making improvements. The guys are really learning what it means to work hard and be good teammates. I'm very encouraged by this team. The guys are playing with confidence and growing as players." Harvest Christian will play in the Northeastern Athletic Conference for the first time. "The guys are quick to learn from stuff," said Acres. "Our record this year hopefully will speak for the effort we are able to put forth."

Huntley Red Raiders

Coach: Kris Grabner

2011 record: 11-9-2, 2-4 FVC Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Lucas Baker (F), David Langford (D), juniors Jakub Rys (D), Eduardo Gonzalez (MF), Niko Mihalopoulos (MF), Scott Dorvilier (F), Auston Emery (GK)

Key newcomers: Freshman Jason Zobott (D)

Outlook: Baker is a returning all-conference performer for the Red Raiders that has some experience back from 2011. "This will be a possession-style team," said Grabner. "They are very technical and very quick. Creativity is definitely a strength." Grabner noted the team's goal this year is to win its first conference and regional titles. "I think it will be a tough battle to win the Valley this season," said Grabner, who mentioned his team, Cary-Grove, Jacobs and Crystal Lake South as potential contenders. "I definitely put us right in the mix with the top couple of teams."

Jacobs Golden Eagles

Coach: AJ Cappello

2011 record: 11-12, 2-4 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division

Top returning players: Seniors Eric Soto (MF), Tommy Gallagher (MF), Anthony Moscatello (F-MF), Mike Mamola (F), Blake Micel (D), Kenny Finn (D), Dennis Jimenez (MF), Anthony Bux (D), Sam Tang (D),

Key newcomers: Junior Kyle Klatka (MF), freshman Chris Rigby (MF)

Outlook: Jacobs will benefit from a veteran-laden roster. "We are bringing back a large group of seniors who have committed themselves to hours of offseason work both on and off the field," said Cappello. "If we can play an up-tempo, aggressive style this year, we should have a successful season." Cappello said Cary-Grove, Huntley and Dundee-Crown are all teams to watch in the FVC Valley.

Larkin Royals

Coach: Ken Hall

2011 record: 18-7-1, 2-2-2 (UEC River)

Top returning players: Seniors Erik Rodriguez (F), Tony Hernandez (MF), Michel Gomez (D), Jazael Medina (MF), junior Tito Valezquez (D)

Key newcomers: Senior Junior Escalante (D), junior Jorge Sibrian (MF), freshman Diego Ramirez (MF)

Outlook: Rodriguez returns after earning all-conference and all-area honors last year. He scored 25 goals in 2011. Hernandez and Valezquez were both all-conference selections as well. "We have great depth at all positions," said Hall. "We have seven returning starters along with two new transfers and an outstanding freshman player (Ramirez). We feel we have the talent to go a long way in the playoffs and challenge for the conference title." The two transfers are Sibrian (El Salvador) and Escalante (Guatemala).

St. Edward Green Wave

Coach: Tim Brieger

2011 record: 4-16-2 (1-7 Suburban Christian)

Top returning players: Seniors Nick Semler (MF), Johnny Shepherd (MF), Efrain Franco (D), Carlos Moreno (F), Kevin Olenek (D), sophomore Joe French (F), sophomores Austin Pfeiffer (F-D), Matt Hesch (GK)

Key newcomers: Senior Alex Lobo (F), junior John Gotheridge (D), sophomore Joe Martell (D), freshman Alex Semler (MF)

Outlook: Brieger, in his 17th season, has a team loaded with varsity experience. Nick Semler, Shepherd, Franco and Moreno are four-year starters, while Olenek is a three-year starter. French, Pfeiffer and Hesch are two-year starters. "We have experience," said Brieger. "The senior class has been starting since they were freshmen. We return eight of 11 starters and four of last year's top six scorers are back (French, Olenek, Moreno and Semler). Brieger would like to see some of last year's close contests turn the other away for his team. "Last season, we were in many of our games until late," he said. "With better numbers, a large number of returners and a great offseason, we're looking to turn a few of those losses into wins."

Streamwood Sabres

Coach: Matt Polovin

2011 record: 5-13-4, 1-2-3 (UEC River)

Top returning players: Seniors Luis Rodriguez (D), Ivan Rosales (MF), Mario Rodriguez (F), Christian Rodriguez (D), juniors Nestor Ascencio (MF), Christian Vences (MF), sophomore Christian Balbino (D)

Key newcomers: Seniors Angel Guterirrez (D), Oliver Huerta (MF), freshman Edwin Rueda (MF)

Outlook: Mario Rodriguez is a returning all-conference performer from a year ago. "This year's team has the most skill I've had at Streamwood," said Polovin. "The team will be a possession-style team with everyone on the field playing both sides of the ball. Anyone can go forward when needed as well as defend." Polovin said the team's goals are to have success in the conference and continue to build confidence toward the postseason." He lists his team along with the two St. Charles teams as top-tier conference contenders.

South Elgin Storm

Coach: John Uveges

2011 record: 10-6-5

Top returning players: Seniors Alberto Bustamante (D-MF), Tyler Piszczek (MF), Tyler Shipon (GK), Quinn Uveges (striker), Spencer Scott (stopper, striker), Phil Saccameno (striker), Matt Padron (OMF)

Outlook: Bustamante, an all-conference pick last year, leads a cast of returning players for the Storm. Coach Uveges lists a number of key strengths for this group. "We're pulling together with our system of play, showing good speed and a good possession game," he said. "Our young players are adjusting well."

Westminster Christian Warriors

Coach: Erik Schwartz

2011 record: 9-6, 3-1 NAC

Top returning players: Seniors Nick Gnan, John Jannick, Jung Un Kim, Tim Rodgers, Collin Sudis, Will Woodhouse.

Key newcomers: Sophomores Luke Weston, Robert Kleczynski, Sam Carani, Noah Gannon, Joey Tyrell and Michael Beusse.

Outlook: Westminster is a team loaded with seniors and sophomores. "Nick, John, Jung, Tim, Collin and Will will supply the senior leadership this year," said Schwartz. "Their ability to stay composed and lead will determine the season's outcome. We have a few sophomores playing key minutes for us this year. Luke, Robert, Sam, Noah, Joey and Michael will be playing huge minutes this year on a team with a large senior and sophomore group." Team chemistry also will be a strength. "The team is unified," said Schwartz. "They treat each other like brothers. Regardless of the circumstances on the field, they have each others' back. They bring hustle every time they step out on the field. The team has a good mix of young and experienced players. We'll have to wait and see whether they figure out a way to put it together to win games."

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