By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
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Aurora Central Catholic
Coach: Eric Cournaya
Last year: 8-10-0; 3-5-0 Suburban Christian Conference; lost to Hinckley-Big Rock in Class 2A regional semifinal
Top players: Enrique Anaya, sr., MF; Victor Franco, jr., D; David Petesch, sr., F, Pedro Placencia, sr., MF
Outlook: Aurora Central has fallen short of producing a winning campaign in recent seasons, but is hopeful that senior midfielders Enrique Anaya (8 goals, 4 assists in 2012) and Pedro Placencia (3 assists) can help control the tempo and help the Chargers to a .500 or better season. Senior forward David Petesch (12 goals, 6 assists) is the team's top returning scorer. Head coach Eric Cournaya isn't afraid of using underclassmen and freshmen forward/midfielders Brett Czerak and Adrian Ruiz are expected to see plenty of minutes. Junior midfielder Fernanrdo Barrero and defender Jared Friedrich are also new to the squad, while junior Victor Franco returns to lead the defense.
Coach: Mark Gianfrancesco
Last year: 3-14-3; 1-5-0 in Upstate Eight River conference, lost to Geneva in Class 3A regional quarterfinal
Top players: John Barnes, sr., MF; Nathan Carey, jr., D; Joe Jorgenson, jr., F; Nick Konopacki, jr., D; Ian Larson, jr., MF; Brandon Yunke, jr., MF
Outlook: Last fall the Bulldogs were in total rebuild mode and it showed as they only recorded three victories (Edwardsville, Elgin, Hinsdale South). "We are in year two of our play," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "99.9 percent of the team last year had no varsity experience, hence the record. But, with a year under their belt and an infusion of new players, we are primed to have a successful year." Just two seasons ago the Bulldogs won 15 matches, including a regional title. Batavia subbed a lot last year, going as many as 16-17 players deep so a lot of players had an opportunity to learn what it takes to succeed. Junior Ian Larson returns to Batavia from the Fire Academy and will certainly provide a boost. In addition, 11 starters return. Nick Foster appears to the team's primary goaltender, but is battling an injury to start the season. Juniors John Faraone and Kevin Fidelke will likely see action in net.
Coach: Ryan Estabrook
Last year: 7-8-3, 3-3-0 Upstate Eight River conference, lost to Naperville Central in Class 3A regional semifinal
Top players: Grant Bracken, sr., F; Joe Mozden, sr., GK; Beck Nebergall, sr., MF, Sam Urben, D
Outlook: The Vikings have had subpar seasons the past two years, but coach Ryan Estabrook expects better results this fall. "I think we will improve upon the last two seasons where we hovered around the .500 mark for most of the season," he said. The team will need some players to step up and find the back of the net. Seniors Grant Bracken and Beck Nebergall will look to lead that effort as the team lost Daily Herald all-area selection Matt Butz (9 goals, 5 assists in 2012) to graduation. The Vikings will play five matches before they face four tough rivalry opponents, beginning with St. Charles North on Sept. 17 and followed by Batavia, Kaneland and Wheaton Academy. Plus, the contest with the Knights is their only home match during the four-game stretch. Very talented St. Charles East and Hinsdale Central squads also await in October.
Coach: Scott Parillo
Last year: 16-4-2, 7-2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 conference, lost to East Moline United in Class 2A sectional championship
Top players: Arsim Azemi, sr., MF; Anthony Parillo, sr., MF/F; Tyler Siebert, sr., MF; Chris Van Dinther, sr., D; Matt VanderSande, sr., D
Outlook: The Knights are coming off their most successful season in school history as they advanced to a sectional championship for the first time and won 16 matches. While they undoubtedly lost some key contributors from last year's squad, they return 11 players from that team, including all-everything senior Anthony Parillo, strength in the midfield from Arsim Azemi and Tyler Siebert as well as defense with Chris Van Dinther and Matt VanderSande. "We are hoping to start where we left off last season," coach Scott Parillo said. "We need to gel quickly and avoid injuries and we should be fairly competitive. It should be an enjoyable season." The Knights invited a school-record 70 players to tryouts so the sport is booming in Maple Park. Look for Kolin Limbrick, Jack Wolf, Peter Jefferson, Jason Carlquist and Drew Franklin to make big plays as newcomers.
Coach: Ricky Del Toro
Last year: 14-7-2, 7-1-0 in Suburban Christian conference, lost to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 3A semifinal
Top players: Flynn Collins, sr., F; Luke DeSimone, sr., D; Conor Morton, so., F; Gavin Sanchez, jr, F
Outlook: The Cadets only started three seniors last season and still won 14 matches. While the loss of four-year player Matthew Switzer will hurt, the Cadets have eight starters back to lead the way. "We are looking to improve from last year's tournament results, conference results and post-conference results," coach Ricky Del Toro said. "We return all of our attacking players and our backline. We thought our goalkeeper was going to be our weakness but we are very impressed with a 6-foot-2 sophomore, Matt Fletcher." Sophomore Conor Morton returns after a brilliant freshman season that saw him score 13 goals. Gavin Sanchez (9 goals, 11 assists in 2012), Flynn Collins (10 goals, 4 assists) and defender Luke DeSimone also will be back.
St. Charles East
Coach: Paul Jennison
Last year: 20-3-1, 6-1-0 in Upstate Eight River conference, lost to Warren in Class 3A supersectional
Top players: Daniel DiLeonardi, sr., F, Kevin Heinrich, sr., D, Andrew Shone, sr. MF, Jake Sterling, sr., D
Outlook: The Saints had an unforgettable season in 2012, winning their first sectional title since 2001 and compiling an impressive 20-3-1 record. They've lost standouts Michael Macek and Brian Gielow to graduation, which is an inevitable part of the process. One that isn't a part of such is the loss of T.C. Hull who scored 31 goals in 2012. He's out this year with a knee injury. The Saints will need to replace Hull's scoring prowess and fortunately they have quite a bit of talent returning to do so. "The kids play well with each other and we've got a bunch of kids who can play," Saints coach Paul Jennison said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what the lads can do." While the loss of Hull is a huge one, the Saints return a lot of starters and role players and should be able to create enough scoring chances to battle for another conference title and make an extended postseason run.
St. Charles North
Coach: Eric Willson
Last year: 8-10-2, 2-4-0 Upstate Eight River conference, lost to St. Charles East in Class 3A regional championship
Top players: Brad Johnson, sr., MF; Billy Larsen, sr., GK; Phillip LeGare, sr., D
Outlook: North Stars coach Eric Willson preaches defense as much, if not more, than any other coach in the area. When his teams have had success they've been downright stingy, shutting down opponents. When they've struggled, defense lapses have been a prime factor. The North Stars will look to get on the other side of .500 this fall and senior defense Phillip LeGare and keeper Billy Larsen will look to keep the North Stars in all their matches. "The outlook is promising," Willson said. "We've got a group of guys who for the first time in a while have chemistry. I really believe that can go a long way and translate into some wins." Nothing will come easy though for the North Stars. In addition to their conference battles, they're scheduled to compete in the Barrington tournament as well as the Pepsi.
Coach: Joe Sustersic
Last year: 10-8-5, 3-3-1 in DuPage Valley conference, lost to East Aurora in Class 3A regional championship
Top players: Geovanni Martinez, jr., Fl Alex Guillen, sr., GK,
Outlook: It'll be a season of opportunity for West Aurora's players, but whether or not their newcomers can make an impact immediately is the big question. The Blackhawks only return a pair of starters in forward Geovanni Martinez and goalie Alex Guillen. "(It's a) team that will get better with every day," West Aurora coach Joe Sustersic said. "A hardworking group. They're extremely competitive and hate to lose. They need to gain experience. With time, they will be in every game to win." The team has a lot of promise and Sustersic expects sophomore forward Christian Martinez, junior midfielder Oscar Gaytan and junior defender Junior Espino to lead the group of newcomers and inexperienced players.