Scouting boys soccer supersectionals
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
At stake: Winner advances into the Class 2A state semifinals at Lincoln-Way North in Frankfort at 1 p.m. Friday.
St. Viator (18-3-3) vs. East Moline United (21-3-3)
How they got here: The Lions got past Harvard 1-0 last Saturday afternoon to win the Grayslake Central, thanks in part to Mateo Leudo's 50th-minute game-winner and a stifling defense which allowed the Hornets just a few quality chances at Viator keeper Michael McGrath. United's 3-2 victory over Kaneland in OT at the Sterling sectional final helped the Panthers advance into its first supersectional appearance since 1999.
Who to watch: St. Viator: Spencer Moore (Jr., F), Troy Wheeler (Sr., D), Jackson Owens (Sr., F), Kevin Klinkenberg (Jr., MF), Michael McGrath (Sr., GK), Michael Duszynski (Sr., D), Ethan Wolf (Jr., D).
Storyline: It's no certainty that the top-seeded Lions, clearly one of the top four sides in 2A this fall, will scoot into the finals of the state tournament. After an easy time of it in the rain in its regional opener with Notre Dame (5-0) Mike Taylor's club has had all it could handle since, with hard fought 1-goal victories over Deerfield (1-0), Lakes (2-1) and Harvard (1-0).
"We've yet to match the level of play and work rate that we showed all throughout the three games we played and won at our Mid-State Classic tournament we hosted back in late October at Celtic Park in Palatine," said Taylor. "We've been close on a few occasions, but for whatever reason we just haven't all been on the same page. We've got to get there if we hope to get past (Moline) and then have a good run at it all at the state tournament this coming weekend."
Taylor and his staff believe the return of senior Ashwin Cornelius (from an ACL injury) will provide an extra edge and leadership, even if the two-time all-East Suburban Catholic Conference midfielder is less than 100 percent healthy.
"We've missed what he gives us, just because of the way he leads, in addition to what he brings as a player, and if we can get him out there to give us quality minutes alongside 'Klinky' (Klinkenberg) we'll be much better off in the middle in a game of this importance," Taylor said.
United is here for the first time since 1999, which, coincidentally was the year the Panthers won it all under the old two-class system.
"(Moline) impressed us with their high work-rate and energy they gave right from the start of their match with Kaneland the other night, so we'd better be ready to bring it when the game starts tonight or we could be in trouble," said St. Viator assistant and former Lions star defender T.J. King, who was at Sterling to scout the East Moline United-Kaneland final.
Warren (19-5-1) vs. St. Charles East (20-2-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Outlook: Inspired by two-time all-state midfielder and Marquette-bound Daniel Szcezpanek, Warren is in the supersectionals for a second straight season, and one victory away from a second consecutive trip to the state finals. The Blue Devils have been a juggernaut in the postseason after a 7-1 rout over Round Lake in the NSC championship match. But Jason Ahonens' club need to be prepared from what is awaiting. Paul Jennison's squad has gone from a 6-win season in 2011 to 20 this year, following its 8-1 result over Larkin at the York sectional final. The Saints have a stingy defense and a high-scoring attack led by junior TC Hull, who is closing in on 30 goals after bagging a hat trick against Larkin last Friday night in Elmhurst.
Stevenson (18-3-1) vs. Glenbrook North (15-4-5)
Where: Glenbrook South
When: 6 p.m.
This is the first-ever supersectional appearance by Stevenson and long-time head coach Mark Schartner, who watched his Patriots top North Suburban Conference rival Libertvyille 5-3 Friday night at Conant by shifting enormous amounts of attacking labor and pace on the Wildcats. Pats senior keeper Quentin Low is a sensational shot-stopper and capable of turning around a match with his superb skills between the sticks. Glenbrook North coach Paul Vignocchi has another chance of returning to the state tournament after the Spartans got past Chicago Public League runner-up Lane Tech 1-0 Saturday afternoon at New Trier. In his first year as head coach in 2004, Vignocchi would led North to a fourth-place state finish.
-- Mike Garofola