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updated: 10/9/2012 7:35 PM

St. Charles E., Kaneland among playoff favorites

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  • John Starks/  Marmion's Flynn Collins turns to ask the referee for a call against Aurora Central Catholic goalkeeper Mike O'Donnell Thursday in Aurora. There was no penalty.

    John Starks/ Marmion's Flynn Collins turns to ask the referee for a call against Aurora Central Catholic goalkeeper Mike O'Donnell Thursday in Aurora. There was no penalty.

  • Diego Ochoa and the Kaneland Knights earned a No. 1 seed at the Class 2A Burlington Central regional.

      Diego Ochoa and the Kaneland Knights earned a No. 1 seed at the Class 2A Burlington Central regional.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

St. Charles East (15-2-1) and St. Charles North (7-8-0) could face each other in the Class 3A Wheaton North regional title game on Oct. 20. Of course, neither team is looking too far ahead, especially the North Stars who struggled in a 3-0 defeat to the Saints on Saturday.

"We want to be able to play well on Tuesday against Lake Park and then we'll prepare for Glenbard North who is our first round game," North Stars coach Eric Willson said. "That's all we can do is to try to get ready for that. We won't play anybody else if we can't beat Glenbard North so that is who we have to prepare for."

The Saints are the top seed in the York sectional and will open postseason play against the winner of Proviso West and Wheaton North, but won't take any opponent lightly. While it's been a season full of accomplishments for the Saints, winning their own tournament, the UEC River Conference and sweeping its three Tri-Cities rivals to snag the Fox Trophy from Batavia, they know a new season begins next Tuesday. Still, they know a familiar rival could await on Oct. 20.

"We both walk into the first round of regionals knowing seeding counts for nothing," Saints coach Paul Jennison said. "You have to beat every team that is in front of you. If we do get to play against (St. Charles North) great, and I'm sure they'll be just as excited to play us, but before that we have two games to look forward to."

One of those games is the UEC crossover title game on Wednesday as the Saints will host East Aurora at Norris Stadium. The Tomcats were tri-champions in the UEC Valley, along with Lake Park and Waubonsie Valley.

It's already been a disappointing season for No. 17 seed Batavia and No. 18 seed Geneva.

It'll come to a dreadful end for one of the squads as they will face each other in a Class 3A Naperville Central regional play-in game at Geneva on Saturday morning.

While the winner will get to celebrate beating its local rival, the festivities won't last long as top-seeded Naperville Central (15-1-0) awaits on Tuesday night. Of course, that's better than the other result: losing and turning in your uniform.

"We haven't played Batavia in the postseason since I've been coaching here," Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said. "It certainly adds an additional level of excitement to the game. Whoever wins that game will face a stiff challenge against Naperville Central in the next round."

If Batavia is able to reverse its fortunes against Geneva, the Bulldogs would have a chance of playing major underdog to the Redhawks, who are also one of the Class 3A favorites. They also ended the Bulldogs season, 3-2, in the sectional semifinals last fall.

The teams went head to head less than a month ago as Geneva (5-7-2) received a pair of goals from Matt Butz and won convincingly, 4-1. The Bulldogs (3-13-2), who ended a nine-game winless streak last Thursday in a 5-1 win over Hinsdale South, have their final regular season game tonight at home against South Elgin while the Vikings host Bartlett.

Well, they couldn't have scheduled the Suburban Christian Conference any better as Marmion is set to conclude its regular season on Wednesday night at home against Wheaton Academy. Both teams are 7-0 in conference so the title is on the line. St. Francis (6-2) had been 6-0 but lost to Wheaton Academy last Wednesday, 3-0, and fell short against Marmion on Saturday, 2-0.

"We are very excited for the opportunity we have on Wednesday at our place in front of our crowd," Cadets coach Ricky Del Toro said. "Wednesday is a well deserved finale for us and it will be a tough opponent, but we are at home (unbeaten) and playing for the lone title."

The postseason will be a whole new ballgame for the Cadets as they are now a Class 3A team after finishing fourth last fall in 2A. The 10th seeded Cadets will face the DVC-seasoned and No. 6 seed Wheaton Warrenville South next Tuesday in the Naperville North regional. The Cadets lost to the Tigers, 1-0, in the Barrington tournament. A win this time and the host Huskies would likely be next in line.

Interestingly, the Cadets have shutout 10 teams including East Aurora (5th) and Oswego (9th), which were seeded higher in the West Chicago sectional.

"We want to be a program that is expected to win our conference each year and even though we have been moved up to 3A we welcome that challenge and will compete to go to state each year," Del Toro said. "We were seeded 10th for reasons I can only assume. We don't care. We have already proven them wrong by shutting out and beating two of these schools by two goals. And we are a young team. We will only get better and stronger."

Kaneland (11-3-2) will be targeted in the Class 2A Burlington Central regional. The top seeded Knights will face either IMSA or Sycamore on Oct. 17 in a semifinal contest. A win would earn them the opportunity to play for a regional title against either the hosts or Hampshire.

Anthony Parillo has led the Knights attack this season, accounting for about half of the team's goals. He shook off a wrist injury recently, which would've been a devastating blow to the Knights' postseason chances.

"We were playing well and then we had a three-game stretch where we didn't play well and we were kind of worried that we peaked already," Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. "This is not the time to go downhill and we picked it up and have now won three in a row and are playing very well again."

Parillo admits that the Knights are feeling pretty good, but also know they'll have to beat some good teams if they hope to win a regional title and make a run deep into the postseason.

"You can throw the records out the window because I've been a No. 1 seed before and not won," Parillo said. "All teams are looking to be playing their best soccer now and anything can happen, but we're feeling pretty good with how we're playing."

West Aurora pulled off one of the biggest upsets this season when it defeated Naperville North, 2-1, on Sept. 25. After proving to themselves that they can compete with the top teams in the state, the Blackhawks are now battling the injury bug and hoping to have its most talented players on the field when they open postseason play next Tuesday.

It won't be easy as the No. 13 seeded Blackhawks drew No. 4 seed Neuqua Valley, which is also hosting the Class 3A Neuqua Valley regional.

"We've proved we can win a big game on the road by beating Naperville North and we went into Rock Island and beat them as well," Blackhawks coach Joe Sustersic said. "It's not like we haven't played some tough teams on the road. A Jim Begley-led team with some talent is not going to a small task. It's going to be a monumental one, but my kids have proven they can do it."

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks it does not appear as though defensive midfielder Ibo Kibarov will return from injury, but Sustersic expects starting keeper, Alex Guillen, to return for the postseason along with top marking back Luis Gallego and defender Chris Koulos.

West Aurora concludes its DVC and regular season schedule tonight against Glenbard East.

Finally, Aurora Central will look to stop Bernie Conley when the Chargers host Hinckley-Big Rock on Tuesday in the Class 1A Aurora Central regional. Conley scored three times on Sept. 5 to lead Hinckley-Big Rock to a 4-1 victory.

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