Lake Zurich is making it look easy.
The Bears took a 2-0 record into last week's Spring Break Tune Up Tournament at Hoffman Estates. After cruising past Huntley 10-1 and hammering an undermanned Fremd squad, 15-1, the Bears had plenty of optimism at Hoffman Estates and it shined through.
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The Bears pounced on West Chicago 13-2 won a hard fought 5-2 game against Warren, and blitzed a relatively new Taft team 16-0 to advance to the championship game where they dominated Bartlett, 10-2.
"Warren was hands-down the second best team in the tournament," Lake Zurich coach Chuck Vozas said. "Our guys were skittish when they pressured us, so hats off to them. It was a great game and they have good players and a great goalkeeper. We just got lucky on a couple plays."
Vozas praised the play of Ross Williams in particular.
"He's the concrete foundation of this team," he said. "He takes high value shots of a very high percentage. He doesn't force anything, he knows when and when not to shoot and is shooting at 67 percent."
Jack Boliaux dominated face-offs during the tourney, Nike Kakos and Ryan Wagoner patrolled the midfield while Hobart recruit Grant Soucy led the defense.
Bartlett enjoyed a 16-1 thrashing of Mundelein in pool play but also needed tough victory over Vernon Hills, 7-6, and Hoffman Estates, 11-8, to get to the title game.
"Disappointing loss against Lake Zurich, but I love our team's fire," Hawks coach Mike Fernandez said. "Played all out all the way to the final buzzer."
Michael Colenantonio and Vito Diperte scored 11 goals apiece and DiPerte also had 6 assists in the tournament for Bartlett. Other standouts for the runner-ups included Jake Fernandez (15 ground balls, 5 assists) and Michael Lively (11 ground balls).
Mundelein took seventh place but coach Chris Brady saw some positives, namely in junior Brad Grove and sophomore Alec Kendall, who he said had break out games.
"I thought we did really well," Brady said. "We found out where our strengths lie and identified key areas we need to work on."
Snow & North Stars:
St. Charles North coach Sean McCaffrey joked that the destination for next year's spring break trip might be further south.
The North Stars were only able to play one out of their scheduled games in St. Louis on Mar. 23-24 due to a snowstorm.
The team started strong with a wild 10-8 victory over Chaminade College Prep. The team recovered from a sluggish start, getting goals from Eric Koppang, Nick McCullough and Riley Martin late in the first quarter. The defense took over in the second quarter as Mike Rerko, Matt Couglin, Zach Woeste and Josh Clay provided ample protection for goalkeeper Alec Datoli.
Goals by McCullogh and Martin gave the North Stars a 5-4 lead heading into halftime. They extended the lead to 7-4 in the third quarter on goals by Koppang and Judson Huxtable, but Chaminade answered right back with four straight goals to regain the lead at 8-7 with under 4 minutes remaining.
It wasn't looking good for the North Stars, but things can change so quickly in lacrosse and they did on this occasion as McCullogh rallied for two goals and Huxtable added an insurance goal for a 10-8 victory.
"Mike Jasica was on fire with face-offs and Nick McCullough delivered some key goals in the fourth quarter to seal the win," McCaffrey said. "Chaminade is a very disciplined and well-coached team so it was good to get the win against a strong opponent."
Despite their next three games being cancelled, the North Stars used Sunday for team building purposes and then began the trek home on Monday morning.
"Minus not playing the remaining three games, it was a good trip overall and definitely brought our team together," McCaffrey said. "I think next year we may got a little further south!"
Schaumburg has a lot to live up to after establishing "every school record" according to coach Joe Carey.
"This year our team is hungry to show it was not a fluke," Carey said. "Our seniors want to continue to move our team up the rankings. We have a good mix of experience and athletes and plan on building on last year's success."
Leading the Saxons attach with be senior Anthony DePinto, who is coming off a 70-goal campaign, senior defenders Cameron Mager and Brandon Bethran will look to stifle opponents.
The team also boasts a few promising newcomers, including sophomores LaTrell Washington and Matt O'Boyle and junior Ryan Tuma.
The Saxons dropped their opener last week at Vernon Hills but have ample opportunities to pick up their first victory and more this week. They'll face former NILAX squad, Huntley, on Tuesday and also have action scheduled versus Hoffman Estates and Oak Park later in the week.
Knights visit Duke:
Graylake North returned to Illinois late last week after spending five nights in North Carolina, facing two of the top teams in the state, before heading to Duke University on Thursday for its own practice. They also had an opportunity to meet the coaching staff at Duke as well as watch Duke practice.
"It was a great trip," Knights coach Brad Fish said. "One that should pay big benefits through May and June."
Grayslake North dropped both of its games on the trip, succumbing to stamina issues in the fourth quarter of both losses to teams that are midway through their season. In its opener, the Knights were tied with No. 5 Apex at 10-10 with five minutes left, but fell 13-10. They took on 2012 runner-up Cardinal Gibbons, the No. 4 team in North Carolina next, but had early season endurance issues, falling 14-8.
Despite the losses, Fish saw plenty of good things from Kevin Carter, Shane Pech, and Ian Pearce on defense and Eric York in goal. He also was pleased with the effort in the midfield from David Collins, Eric Palada, Brendan Walker, Freddie Williams and Spencer Davis in the midfield.
Steven Hohensee used the trip toward his development in face-offs while AJ Fish led the attack with 8 goals. Farham Khan added 6 goals and Jack Mattea had 4.
'Ville to 'Ville:
Libertyville's spring break trip to Louisville, Ky., produced mixed results. The Wildcats opened with a 10-5 loss to highly regarded Louisville Trinity. While Libertyville was doubled up on the scoreboard, a lot of it was its own doing. A three-minute illegal stick penalty, along with several other time serving penalties proved too difficult to overcome. Junior goalkeeper Cole Blazer made 18 saves to keep the Cougars in the contest.
The Wildcats picked up their first victory of the season later in the afternoon, edging Christian Academy, 7-6. Senior goalkeeper Richard Cho finished with 12 saves.
The trip was cut short as Sunday's contest was canceled due to a snowstorm. Fortunately, the storm didn't delay the Wildcats from returning home safely.
Hopefully the weekend in Louisville proves beneficial on the filed this week as the Wildcats face two stiff tests in a very strong St. Viator team on Tuesday and last year's Class B champion, Grayslake North, on Thursday.
Naperville North Lax-A-Palooza, Mar. 22-24, proved to be a great success as the Huskies and Neuqua Valley faced a pair of out-of-state opponents, while college games were also mixed into the schedule.
The University of Indiana had victories over Illinois State and St. Cloud State, but also endured a tough 9-8 overtime loss to Central Michigan. It also proved to be a sort of homecoming for two of Indiana's players, Keegan McQuillan (Naperville Central 2010) and Connor Sullivan (Naperville North 2012).
"Coming home to play in front of hometown family and friends is always fun," McQuillan said. "Being able to return to a field that you played on in high school and seeing how far you have come as a player and a person is a really great experience."
McQuillan also got to see former Redhawks teammate, Mark Kawalek, who plays for Illinois State. The Redbirds have plenty of local flavor on its team with players from Barrington, Bartlett, Fremd, Lake Zurich, Naperville Central, Palatine, Stevenson and Wheaton North.
"Last weekend's event in Naperville was a great opportunity for so many players who grew up playing in this area and have since gone on to play the game collegiately in the MCLA (Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association) to play in front of their friends and families," Illinois State coach Ed Cimoch said. "So many players from our roster come from emerging high school programs in Illinois."
Lions in Florida:
St. Viator had a memorable trip to Florida, facing great competition and working on team building.
"We had an awesome trip and came away from a grueling week of practices and games healthy too, which is another small victory," Lions coach Bill Sanford said.
The Lions fell to St. Marks by one goal, beat St. Albans, 12-9 and edged Mountain Vista (Colorado), 14-13.
"We started a freshman and sophomore at close defense and had another three to four freshmen/sophomores play meaningful minutes against good teams," Sanford said. "We also found two to three other junior midfielders we believe will work for the opportunity to contribute."