Nestor Ascencio Streamwood
A junior holding midfielder, Ascencio finished with 3 goals and 4 assists and earned IHSSCA all-state accolades. "Nestor is one of the most dynamic players in the state," said Streamwood coach Matt Polovin. "Nestor is comfortable in possession and strong in the tackle. He is great at keeping his position in front of the back four and excellent at breaking up opposition attacks. Nestor has a great ability to maneuver himself out of tight situations and play the ball simply to a teammate. Nestor has tremendous stamina, strength and work rate and is a smart decision-maker who has vision of the field to spot teammates out and get the ball to them over the entire pitch." Ascencio is a three-year varsity starter and was a team captain for the second straight year.
Lucas Baker Huntley
A senior forward, Baker tallied 22 goals and 8 assists and earned all-sectional honors. In talking about Baker and junior teammate Niko Mihalopolous, Huntley coach Kris Grabner stated: "These are two of the best players in our conference and absolutely two of the best players I have seen all year. Their understanding of the game and technical skill makes them both very dangerous attackers."
Owen Bott South Elgin
A junior defender, Bott had 4 goals and 1 assist for South Elgin heading into sectional play. "Owen played every game where he was equal to the best players on the field," said South Elgin coach John Uveges. "Owen is our best player in the air. He rarely loses 50-50 balls. He's an outstanding defender who creates a fast transitional offense for our team."
Alberto Bustamante South Elgin
A senior defender/midfielder, Bustamante had 6 goals and 6 assists this season. "Alberto is a leader and may be one of the Top 5 players in the Upstate Eight," pointed out South Elgin coach John Uveges. "Alberto controls the game. When he plays, we always generate good chances to score. He will finish or set others up to score. He is a two-way player with outstanding defensive skills."
Joe French St. Edward
French, a sophomore forward, posted 10 goals and 3 assists this year and now has 15 goals and 4 assists in his young varsity career. Also the kicker on the football team, French earned all-Suburban Christian Conference honors this season. "Joe is one of the most complete players I have coached," said St. Edward coach Tim Brieger. "He's only a sophomore, but he's one of the top players on the team and in the area. He can play any position on the field. He has speed, ballhandling skills and a great understanding of the game." French scored St. Edward's first goal in the regional title game this year and then moved to center back to shut down the opposition's top scorer.
Tony Hernandez Larkin
A senior midfielder, Hernandez earned an all-Upstate Eight Conference River Division selection for a second year in a row. An all-area honorable mention pick last year, Hernandez had 8 goals and 16 assists for the Royals heading into sectional action earlier this week.
Christian Martinez Dundee-Crown
A senior goalie, Martinez registered 11 shutouts and allowed just 14 goals (0.66 goals-against average). He stopped 109 shots en route to all-sectional and all-state honors. "Christian is one of the best goalkeepers to every play at Dundee-Crown and is one of the top keepers in the area," said D-C coach Rey Vargas. "He works hard and comes up with amazing saves. There have been times where he has carried our team by making stops and coming up with the big saves. His states this year have been great and he has been a vital part of our success."
Mike McKune Cary-Grove
McKune, a senior midfielder was one of only two returning starters for a Cary-Grove team that won its second-straight Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title. An all-state selection, McKune had 11 goals and 14 assists through the team's first 19 matches (17-0-2). In speaking about McKune and teammate Kevin Wilde, Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson said: "Mike and Kevin possess outstanding technical abilities at a high rate of speed. They have a high work rate on both sides of the ball. They both combine their defensive abilities equally as well as with their offensive abilities, which makes them very dynamic two-way players without taking time off on either side of the ball."
Niko Mihalopolous Huntley
A junior holding midfielder, Mihalopolous scored 7 goals and had 8 assists. He earned all-sectional honorable mention honors. "Niko's numbers are pretty solid coming out of the holding midfield," said Huntley coach Kris Grabner. In talking about Mihalopolous and teammate Lucas Baker, Grabner stated: "These are two of the best players in our conference and absolutely two of the best players I have seen all year. Their understanding of the game and technical skill makes them both very dangerous attackers."
Sam Murdock Crystal Lake South
A junior midfielder, Murdock tallied 10 goals and 7 assists and has 18 goals and 15 assists for his varsity career. A two-time all-Fox Valley Conference Valley Division pick, Murdock also was selected for the IHSSCA al-sectional team this year. A three-year starter, Murdock was named team captain this season. "Sam is one of the few players in the area that has the combination of both terrific technical skill/vision and the tenacity and edginess on the defensive side of the ball," said South coach Brian Allen. "He is a tremendously smart tacklers and tenacious on 50-50 challenges. He has always had a knack for finding the back of the net from distance in dramatic fashion while distributing the ball with ease and comfort from anywhere on the field. This, combined with his uncanny ability to create just enough space to play his teammates through or get his own shot off is what makes him one of the top players in the area at his position."
Erik Rodriguez Larkin
Rodriguez, a senior forward, is the honorary co-captain of the Daily Herald's All-Area team for a second season in a row. Rodriguez had 22 goals and 14 assists heading into sectional play. An all-conference selection the last three years, Rodriguez led the Royals in scoring all four years he was in high school.
Mario Rodriguez Streamwood
A senior forward, Rodriguez was a four-year starter for the Sabres. He led the team in scoring with 18 goals and 6 assists. Rodriguez earned honorable mention al-sectional honors. "Mario is a standout player who is a dangerous offensive threat," said Streamwood coach Matt Polovin. "He creates goal-scoring opportunities with his speed, quickness, muscle and the ability to go 1-on-1. Often times, he is double-teamed yet he finds ways to create chances and score goals. Mario has the speed, skill and strength needed to dominate and he does. Mario's work rate is tremendous on and off the field."
Oscar Rodriguez Elgin
Rodriguez, a center midfielder, registered 10 goals and 10 assists and played almost every minute of every Elgin game this season. The captain of the team, Rodriguez is a likely all-Upstate Eight Conference River Division selection. "Oscar is a big and physical player," said Elgin coach Dave Borg. "He's a good defender as well, a great kid, a good student and a quiet leader. He's the total package. When he was on, we were on."
Kevin Schenk Cary-Grove
Schenk allowed just 10 goals and had 11 shutouts through Cary-Grove's first 19 games. The senior goalie played a major role in the Trojans winning another conference championship. Two of the goals he allowed came via penalty kicks. He also saved two PKs. "Kevin makes the routine saves along with the spectacular ones," said Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson.
Nick Semler St. Edward
Semler, a senior defender/defensive midfielder, scored 3 goals this season and finished his career at St. Edward with 6 goals and 4 assists. Semler was a four-year starter and two-year captain who earned all-Suburban Christian Conference accolades this season. "Nick is a leader of the team during both the off-season and during the season," said St. Edward coach Tim Brieger. "He played the first three years in the midfield, but moved to the back line for the team's good this year. Nick is a complete player with excellent ball skills and vision. He's our set-piece player and has great deliveries." Semler bent in a corner kick in the final minutes against Chicago Christian to force overtime. He then scored the winning shootout goal. Semler was part of a big turnaround at St. Edward. His sophomore year the team went 2-19 and improved to the point it won a regional title in 2012.
Eric Soto Jacobs
A senior midfielder and team captain, Soto totaled 10 goals to go with 10 assists and was named to the all-sectional team. "Eric was the catalyst for our team," said Jacobs coach AJ Cappello. "Erick not only did this on the ball, but he was equally as valuable off the ball directing traffic vocally and working off the ball. Eric is in a class of his own on the ball in 1-on-1 situations. His distribution of the ball and his free kicks are second to none. If it wasn't for injury trouble the last three seasons, Eric may have more accolades to his name."
Blake Starrenburg Hampshire
While Starrenburg did not have the lofty stats, Hampshire coach John Gosling noted this center back racked up plenty of stats that go unnoticed on the field. Starrenburg, a senior captain, was an all-sectional honorable mention selection this season. "Blake has been rock solid even with the losses," said Gosling. "He was the emotional and physical leader for us this whole year."
Bryce Warner Burlington Central
Warner, a senior forward, tallied 18 goals and 8 assists for Central en route to earning IHSSCA all-sectional honorable mention accolades. "After Bryce was forced to miss the first half of his junior year, we decided to move him up top on his return. Since then, he's stayed there for us," explained Central coach Mike Gecan. "This year, he is our leading goal scorer and is also second on the team in assists. Bryce is extremely difficult to defend, and in my opinion is one of the top forwards in the area."
Kevin Wilde Cary-Grove
A junior forward, Wilde was an all-sectional pick who helped lead the Trojans to an undefeated regular season and another FVC Valley Division championship. He had 21 goals and 6 assists through the team's first 19 games and went over the 40-goal barrier for his two-year varsity career. In speaking about Wilde and teammate Mike McKune, Cary-Grove coach Mark Olson noted: "Their tactical understanding of the game and ability to execute the understanding is what allows them to make the players around them better. What is most refreshing is they are incredibly humble and very quick to praise their teammates. Their leadership has really shown this year as the two returning starters form last year's team. They have done a remarkable job of leading this year's team."
Brad Yarwood Burlington Central
A senior defender, Yarwood is a 2012 IHSSCA all-sectional selection. He recorded 3 goals and 5 assists and was part of 8 Central shutouts. "Brad has been the leader of our defense for the past two seasons," said Central coach Mike Gecan. "He is great at timing tackles and winning head balls. Brad also is a big target fur us offensively on set plays. He is the type of player who makes everyone around him better. Brad is without a doubt one of the best center backs in the area."