Seeing a Montini team with a 5-0 record isn't a surprise -- certainly not in football.
But this spring the Broncos are putting up an impressive record in lacrosse. The Broncos improved to 5-0 with a hard-fought 5-4 overtime win against Marmion on Friday.
Mitch Ruopp scored the game winner for the Broncos and had 2 goals in the victory. JP Palasek added 2 goals and goalie DJ Callahan notched 11 saves.
"We've gotten great goaltending out of Callahan, and our defense has been able to lock down in close games," Broncos first-year coach Steve Carlevato said. "Our midfield play has been pretty good and our attack unit is jelling."
Carlevato would like to see the team play better in the second half and close out games better, but so far the team always finds a way to win.
The Broncos are playing an up-tempo style offense to keep other team's guessing. So far, it's working.
"The kids seem to have taken up to that kind of system fairly well and are getting it down," Carlevato said. "JP Palasek and Mike Rossiter have been getting a lot of good looks from the middie position and our face-off play from Mario Conforti, Stefan Shover and AJ Melarkey at long stick midfielder has been fantastic."
Plus, having a stopper as tough as Callahan has been huge too.
"I expected Callahan to have a good season and be a leader from the back end," Carlevato said. "He's been a rock in the cage for us so far this year and I expect that hard work and leadership to continue throughout the season."
Division I lacrosse:
Naperville Central junior varsity coach Sandy Romans brought more than 70 lacrosse players from Naperville Central to the Marquette-Notre Dame game at Loyola Academy earlier this month.
Romans, who has more than 40 years of playing and coaching experience, thinks the trend of bringing high-caliber Division I lacrosse games will continue as the sport continues to grow.
"You're seeing Division III schools pop up at Elmhurst, Aurora University and Benedictine and all over the area, and more high schools now have teams," he said. "It's really been exciting to watch the sport's growth in the Midwest."
The most recent high-end lacrosse game to be played in DuPage played in 2006 as Notre Dame took on Cornell at Illinois Benedictine.
Division I Dvorak:
Lacrosse might not be an IHSA sport but that's not stopping it from producing more and more NCAA Division I players. One such player is St. Charles North graduate Ben Dvorak who was in his Marquette uniform on Apr. 2 as the Golden Eagles faced Notre Dame at Loyola Academy in Wilmette. Notre Dame has been ranked No. 1 this season.
The Golden Eagles, who are in their debut season, lost 17-5 but Dvorak scored the team's first goal.
"Not only do I get to score the first goal for my team against top-ranked Notre Dame, I got to do it in front of a huge home crowd," Dvorak said. "I had family, friends, past teammates, past coaches and kids I have coached come out to watch Division I lacrosse.
Coincidentally, Loyola Academy coach Rob Snyder, a Notre Dame alum, is Dvorak's former club coach.
The experience reminded Dvorak of how he first picked up a crosse in fifth grade and eight years later developed into a Division I player.
"While growing up my Dad (Gregg) and I would make trips down to South Bend to watch Division I lacrosse, as well as the very few Division I games that came to the Chicago area," Dvorak said. "He always asked me if I thought I could compete with those guys one day. To a middle school kid, they looked like professionals and I personally only wished I could. To say that I actually made it is incredible. I am now one of those players that the little kids are watching play and hoping to be like one day."
A young kid named Jack is one of those little kids. Jack, who was one of the more than 1,500 in the stands on April 2, received individual lessons from Dvorak.
"His father texted me after the game and said 'Jack now knows that he wants to play college like you and follow your lead.'"
Wheaton Academy picked up victory No. 1 on the season in convincing fashion on Friday, blasting Immaculate Conception, 16-1.
It was also the first victory as a varsity program as this season is the first one where the Warriors are fielding a varsity team.
Senior midfielder Thomas Oster had a huge game, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Junior attackman Sam Wilson had three goals and an assist, freshman attackman Brayden Schiff scored twice as did senior Jon Prichard.
"It was an offensive game, but the defense did a nice job too," Warriors coach Bruce Wilson said. "Goalie Alex Budzisz had four saves."
Wheaton Academy (1-2) opened the season with a 7-3 loss to West Chicago and just fell short to Bartlett 8-7.
"West Chicago was our first game and like their fifth and we'd had only one outdoor practice to that point," Wilson said. "I don't want to take anything away from them, but I hope we get another chance to play them later in the season."
The Warriors nearly rallied to upset Bartlett, but falling behind early proved too much. Still, the Warriors limited the Hawks to just a single goal so apparently they were able to carry over the defense in holding Immaculate Conception to a single score.
Game of the week:
Lake Zurich finally suffered a setback on Friday, losing 16-8 to St. Viator, after trouncing opponent after opponent to open the season.
Still, if you include the teams four dominate performances in the Hoffman Estates tournament, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 115-17.
Libertyville (4-0) has scored a 10-9 win over 2012 Class B champion Grayslake North, an overtime win against St. Viator, as well as wins over Warren and Grayslake Central.
Both teams are playing extremely well, but the rivalry has some gasoline that could be added to the fire.
Last year, Lake Zurich stunned Libertyville, 5-4 on a David Finney goal in overtime. It was the first time Lake Zurich ever beat Libertyville.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday, Apr. 17 at 7 p.m. in Libertyville. Should be a great game.
Saints in good form:
After a pair of losses to open the season in March, St. Charles East has been perfect in April, notching victories against Batavia, Geneva and mostly recently, a 12-7 decision over St. Francis.
Alex O'Brien paced the offense against St. Francis with five goals while Liam Hooper, Jack Russell and Evan Anderson had two goals apiece. Eric Merrill won 60 percent of his face-offs, Anderson had a team-high 8 groundballs and Brett Hickey had 4.
The Saints shouldn't have much trouble with Belvidere (0-4) on Tuesday but tough games against Benet and Waubonsie Valley loom later in the week.
Pick the score:
If the beginning of the season is any indication of things to come, Barrington's fans and coaches are going to need manicures for hand-bitten fingernails.
Barrington opened the season with a 6-5 victory over Conant and another 6-5 win against Fremd.
The team's scheduled to face Carmel and Palatine later this week.
North Stars on top:
St. Charles North recently ascended to No. 1 in the LaxPower rankings. Glenbrook North just surpassed the North Stars in the most recent rankings, but the No. 1 ranking was a first for the program both for St. Charles North as well as in past years when both North and East were the St. Charles Lacrosse Club.
St. Charles North (5-0) had big early season victories over Wheaton Warrenville South and Benet.
"We have some very bright players on the team and the boys have bought into everything the coaches have been teaching in practice," assistant coach Andy Thompson said. "It truly was the unselfish play that helped us to victories over Wheaton Warrenville South and Benet."
Last Thursday's prime contest against Waubonsie Valley was postponed due to weather and a reschedule date has yet to be announced. The North Stars travel to Naperville Central on Tuesday.
Warren looked to continue its success from the weekend into Monday's contest against Deerfield, but dropped a 7-5 decision. Warren was knotted at 4-all at half but Deerfield pulled away in the second half.
Over the weekend, Warren beat Carmel, 13-4 and Lane Teach, 14-8. Jacob Perry and Tanner James have both now reached double figures in scoring on the season while Bobby Clarke has been strong at face-offs and with ground balls.
"We are very young and are hoping to be fully hitting our stride by mid-May," Warren coach Greg Janczak said. "We have had two really tough losses so far this season to Lake Zurich at the Spring Break Tournament (Hoffman Estates) and to Stevenson. Both games we entered the fourth quarter tied."