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updated: 9/5/2013 4:25 PM

Boys soccer: Scouting Northwest

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  • Maine West's Nelson Herrera, at right, vying for possession with Leyden's Moises Merlos last season, is a two-time all-area team selection with 56 goals entering his senior season.

      Maine West's Nelson Herrera, at right, vying for possession with Leyden's Moises Merlos last season, is a two-time all-area team selection with 56 goals entering his senior season.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent


Buffalo Grove

Coach: Rick Carlson (3rd year, 25-12-6).

Last year: 13-7-0, MSL East champs), lost to Fremd (2-1) in regional final.

Graduation losses: Irving Eloiza (MF, 2012 Daily Herald all-area captain, all-state, MSL East player of the year, 13a, Robert Morris College), Irving Balboa (MF, all-area, two-time all-sectional, all-MSL, 13g, 10a, Roosevelt), Demo Drakoulis (F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 15g), Alberto Eloyza (MF, all-state, all-area, two-time all-MSL, 10a), Alexix Herrera (D, all-MSL).

Ones to watch: Seniors Daniel Ramirez (F), Allan Santiaguillo (D), Dillon Eaton (GK); junior Zach Masciopinto (F,MF)

New faces: Junior Mike Kotlyar (MF); sophomore Hans Haller (D).

Outlook: After a decade of various degrees of heartbreak and disappointment, the Bison finally took matters into their own hands last season by winning the MSL East for the first time since 2000. This championship team was an exciting one to watch, able to orchestrate something out of nothing at times while having some of the most technically skilled players in the area. However, most are gone as graduation ravaged Rick Carlson's roster. And with so many changes this fall, it's tough to predict if the club can make a challenge in the division or a middle-of-the-table spot in the end. "My top players (Ramirez, Santiaguillo, Masciopinto) are three of the best area, so we'll play through them until the younger guys figure things out, and learn to adapt at the speed of play at this level," says the BG head coach.

Elk Grove

Coach: Rob Shepard (1st year)

Last year: 4-7-6

Graduation losses: Connor Murphy (F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 7g, 7a), Ben Castellanos (MF), Anthony Romero (D, club).

Ones to watch: Seniors Gio Garcia (MF, all-MSL), Manny Pillado (D, all-MSL), Avery Chang (D), Hugo Sanchez (F), Sergio Aguirre (MF), Jonathon Arzeta (F,MF), Arnold Aguirre (D), David Bahena (F), Deion Morales (MF,D); juniors Ivan Corona (MF), Carlos Miranda-Gomez (F), Alberto Centeno (GK).

New faces: Juniors Daniel Hadler (D), Eric Pillath (F); sophomore Edgar Soto (MF).

Outlook: Rob Shepard takes over for Joe Bush, who stepped down following the birth of a second child, but the popular long-time coach didn't leave the cupboard bare for his successor. Shepard inherits a solid core, including all-MSL stars Garcia and Pillado who will lead by example. "This team has played together for a long time, and there's a lot of returning starters who are motivated, talented and eager to have success," said Shepard. The Grens can play wide-open, interesting soccer, and with Garcia directing traffic and his teammate (Pillado) providing the organizaton and leadership along the back, this might be a prime candidate to surprise in the league.


Coach: Darren Llewellyn (8th year, 72-57-17).

Last year: 9-9-3.

Graduation losses: Nik Vukovic (F, all-MSL), Steven Barrios (MF, all-MSL), Irving Velasquez (GK, all-MSL), John Dickey (D), Ben Juarez (MF), Tom McDonald (D).

Ones to watch: Seniors John Cappuccitti (MF,F, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 6g, 9a), Dan Gramer (MF), Mike Kaczor (MF), Charles Davenport (F), Alex Mueller (D), Jorge Castro (MF), Mike Freda (D), Connor Reynolds (D); juniors Tim Griffin (MF), Campbell White (D).

New faces: Junior Cristian Carranza (GK); freshmen Alexander Filian (MF).

Outlook: Since seeing their four-year reign over the division come to a crashing half in 2009, the club has been unable to find the formula which made them so successful, namely in the department of defending, which coach Darren Llewellyn made into an air-tight unit, year after year. The Huskies might be closer to regaining that defensive edge this fall, but for the first time in ages the club might have a dangerous strike-force group. "Our defense will grow in time, but we have the chance to score much more than we have and actually be able to open things up a bit this season. The midfield will allow for more possession, and if the quartet of Cappuccitti, Davenport, Kaczor and Davenport prove as good as advertised, then the Huskies will be within viewing distance of the top of the table.


Coach: Kurt Trenkle (8th year)

Last year: 9-9-3, regional champions

Graduation losses: Kennedy McNamara (MF, all-MSL), Ethan Graven (D, all-MSL), Curtis Glennon (D, all-MSL), Matt Burikas (D), Avi Chitman (MF), Matt Wruskyj (MF), Joe Tuczak (MF).

Ones to watch: Seniors Jack Cooney (GK), Zach Surico (MF); juniors Bryan Velazquez (MF), Alex Whiteman (D/F).

New faces: Senior Erick Karkut (MF).

Outlook: The Knights waited until the very end to find their form, and when they did, the club went on a stretch where it won five of its last six matches to become a truly dangerous side in the postseason. An impressive playoff run ended in the sectional at the hands of state power Libertyville 2-1. Looking at all of the players who have after graduating, this year's roster is short on experience. Despite this state of flux, the presence of hard-working players such as Surico to run the show in the middle of the park, along with the return of goalkeeper Cooney along with Whiteman in back should help ease the concerns of Prospect's coach. "We're inexperienced and lack a go-to goal scorer, but we have decent size and speed, and (we) should be solid in the back," says Trenkle, whose club has been bolstered with the addition of former club player Erick Karkut.

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Peter Mikulak (10th year, 42-90-17)

Last year: 3-9-2

Graduation losses: Noe Zorate (MF, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, 14g, DePaul), Freddie Zarate.

Ones to watch: Seniors Mike D'Acquisto (MF); juniors David Zarate (F), Arthur Giedrojc (F), Bret Gibson (MF).

New faces: Kou Glaser (MF, club)

Outlook: One of a handful of clubs plagued by injuries and the loss of players to club teams, last year was a tough one for the Mustangs. But they appear to be in better shape this fall than they have been in recent seasons, despite losing one of the most creative and exciting attacking prospects they've had in some time, Noe Zarate. "There's a nice mix of returning players, including Kou (Glaser), who's back from playing club, and both he and Bret (Gibson) are looking good together in the middle," said Mikulak. "It's our strength, and along with David (Zarate) and Arthur (Giedrojc) looking much stronger up top, we finally might be able to put some balls into the back of the net, finish games and stay focused for 80-plus minutes." Unusual depth finally gives the dean of the MSL East coach some options and flexibility for the first time in awhile.


Coach: Ed Uhrik (10th year, 57-84-8)

Last year: 8-14-2

Graduation losses: Alfredo Jimenez, Angel Uriostegui

Ones to watch: Seniors Jose Garcia (MF, all-state, all-area, all-MSL, 19g, 14a), Luis Herrera (F), Nathan Laude (D), Marino Lopez (D,MF), Alfredo Rocha (D), Michael Hernandez (MF,D); juniors Fabian Acosta (D), Frank Estrada (MF).

New faces: Seniors Ivan Mancilla (F), Gary Mendoza (GK); junior Javier Ocampo (GK).

Outlook: There is excitement building with this program, as the Wildcats are the club most consider to be the favorite in the MSL East. Wheeling's victory in the Titan Invite at Glenbrook South over NSC powers Stevenson and Warren only strengthened the team's profile. "We have high expectations and will feel disappointed if we don't at least win our side (of the MSL), but in order to do so, we have to play strong team defense, which is something we've spent a lot of time on," says Uhrik. The healthy return of captain Nathan Laude gives the backline a determined, feisty leader and the kind of figure needed to reach the goal Uhrik has set fort his team. Meanwhile, the breathtaking pace and creativity of Garcia in the middle will wreak havoc on opponents. This smooth-passing team can really move, and the Cats figure to earn big points in the standings against weaker foes. Don't be surprised if Wheeling represents the East in the MSL Cup at season's end.



Coach: Scott Steib (14th year, 244-76-30), 304- 104-37 (career)

Last year: 19-4-3 (lost to eventual state champ Warren (2-1) in sectional final

Graduation losses: Craig Zahour (MF, all-state, three-time all-MSL, two-time all-area, Ohio State), Ethan Claes (MF, all-state, all-area, 12a), Fernando Telles (D, all-area, Dominican), Dylan Nelson (D, all-MSL), Danny Jaderholm (F,4g, Bethel College), Jack Hoots (F, 4g,6a), Zach Rowe, Alex Broderick (GK), Kendall Stork (F, all-state, all-area, 18g, 11a, club).

Ones to watch: Seniors Logan Morris (MF, 5g), Connor Hennelly (MF, all-MSL, 6g), Danny Balleno (D), David Conrad (MF,F); juniors Pat Deroche (GK, 9.5 shutouts, 0.71), Tyler Anderson (D), Griffin Claes (F), Jason Frank (D); sophomore Sean Kim (MF,F).

New faces: Seniors Wesley Collins (F), Andrew Simek (F), Jamie Tausend (D), Jonathan Wilson (F,MF); juniors Jaime Diaz (GK), Austin Grzebieniak (MF), Jack Harrington (D), Shawn Owen (D), Giles Phillips (D), Casey Slingo (MF); sophomore Ryan Lauderback (D).

Outlook: The Broncos just missed top honors in the MSL last season when a 1-0 defeat to conference champ Palatine on the final Tuesday of the regular season dashed their hopes. The loss ended a remarkable 11-game win streak, but not a thrilling postseason run which saw eventual state champion Warren finally upend Scott Steib's team 2-1 in a sectional final. Many from last year's club have moved on, including two all-staters, and four all-area selections, including scoring standout Kendall Stork. "Despite losing a terrific senior class as well as Stork, we have a solid group of returning players who are also tremdendous young men as well," said Steib. "Our greatest challenge may be finding a consistent goal scorer, but I believe we can get by for awhile by committee and still find success."


Coach: Jason Franco (6th year, 60-48-22)

Last year: 8-10-2, lost to Prospect (2-1) in regional final.

Graduation losses: Curtis King (F, all-MSL), Kevin Quinn (D, all-MSL), Gio Rocha (F, all-MSL), Eduardo Ocampo, Blake Fairbanks, Hugo Zarate.

Ones to watch: Seniors Patryk Openchowski (GK), Nathan Marasigan (D), Brandon Dos Santos (D), Dino Kandelpas (F), Victor Moskal (MF); juniors Chase Hermanson (F), Joey Connolly (F).

New faces: Senoirs Ejike Okpa (F), Isiah Jimenez (F); juniors Matt Moglia (MF), Matt Myers (MF); sophomore Ben Hyde (MF).

Outlook: The Cougars struggled throughout last season until a strong finish put them in the regional final, only to lose to its MSL rival from the east, Prospect, ending its hopes of moving on. The art of finishing did the club in most of the time, as Conant found the back of the net just 22 times, 9 coming in the last 5 matches of the campaign. There is some good news in that department this fall. "The strength of this group is up top," said coach Jason Franco. "Connolly, Hermanson and Kandalepas are each athletic, skillful and fast and will put pressure on our opponents. So if we can get our midfielders and backs to hold their own, we should once again be very competitive in the MSL." What the club does have is a very strong shot-stopper in Openchowski, who is capable of making the type of save to help keep his side in the match while also helping with organization and leadership along the back.


Coach: Steve Keller (16th year, 197-112-54)

Last year: 10-9-3, regional champs, lost to Stevenson (1-0) in sectional semifinal.

Graduation losses: Eric Leonard (club, already committed to Butler), Jeremy Kosacz (MF, all-area, all-MSL, Wisconsin), Lucas Cholewa (MF, all-MSL, Illinois), Jon Magnusson (MF, all-MSL), Eric Scott (D, all-MSL), Spencer Janes (D), Michael Debellis, Clayton Schmidt, Nate Hellwarth (MF), Steven Soltykiewicz (GK), Nathan Duffield (GK), Michael Eschbach (MF), Kamil Grudzien, Tyler Sell.

Ones to watch: Seniors Brock VonHolt (F), Nathan Dolen (MF), John Smith (D), Keigo Oharu (MF); junior Zach Schoffstall (MF,F)

New faces: Seniors Austin Bratkiv (MF), Dylan Fisher (GK); juniors Will Lefevre (GK), Jacob Cuthbert (F), Kurt Rettke (D,MF).

Outlook: The Vikings put together a remarkable second half of the season, going from the bottom of the table to a third-place finish and a regional title before taking eventual state medalist Stevenson to the brink in the sectional. The situation this time around might be the same for coach Steve Keller, who brought together a squad which was barely above water at 0-6-2 before going 8-2-1 down the stretch. "That was a good group, who was obviously better than its early record but still worked hard to come together in the second half. We lost a lot from that team, but there's a solid core back, with some good players from our JV team. We should be defensively sound, and hopefully we can generate something in our attack," said Keller, who's only 3 coaching victories away from No. 200.

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Matt Sriver (10th year, 52-104-21)

Last year: 2-12-2

Graduation losses: Alex Tooren (D, Illinois Wesleyan), Luis Ortiz (MF, all-MSL), Jake Kubota, Jose Sanchez, Jorge Bravo (club).

One to watch: Senior Mynor Sarti (D), Andres Cueva (MF); juniors Adam Schultz (D), Angeal Sarti (MF), Misael Vargas (F); sophomores Ricky Choi (MF), Konrad Kieruzal (MF), Mark Hauser (F).

New faces: Junior David Urbina (D,GK); sophomores Christian Peralta (GK), Remzi Ahmeti (F).

Outlook: The Hawks had some decent pieces in place last season, but once again, injuries, the loss of players to club soccer and off the field issues took its toll on the program, so coach Matt Sriver found himself short-handed for most of the way thereafter. "We finally have some depth to provide competition for playing time, and although we're still young and inexperienced in some spots, our strength is our work rate," says Sriver, whose team was still rarely overmatched despite the roster numbers. Keep an eye on the trio of Schultz, Vargas and Kieruzal; they hope to spark a mid-table finish for the Hawks this season.


Coach: Willie Filian (23rd year, 317-136-43)

Last year: 16-2-3, MSL West champs, defeated Buffalo Grove (2-1/PK's) to win MSL Bowl

Graduation losses: Jeremy Velinski (MF, all-area, all-sectional, all-MSL, POY, MSL West, 8g, 13a, Carthage College), Dave Clark (MF, all-MSL, Wheaton College), Matt Fleischhauer (D, all-MSL), Ullises Alcaraz (D), Marco Arreola (MF), Johnny Enriquez (MF), Matt Ryan-Darrah (MF), Luis Vargas (MF), Josh Lee (F), Cesar Valdez (F), Saul Gutierrez (F), Colin Dumphy (F), Abdul Azziz (F, ACL surgery).

Ones to watch: Seniors Kyle Leber (GK, all-area, all-MSL, 7.5 shutouts), Kyle Clancy (D, all-area, all-sectional, two-time all-MSL), Brennan Harding (D), Sergio Hernandez (F), Dan Cushing (F); junior Gavin Folotico (MF)

New faces: Seniors Alejandro Vidal (MF), Rafael Esquivel (MF), Jahir Flores (MF), Jorge Martinez-Avalos (F); juniors Kevin Burke (D), Evan Braun (D), Brian Mars (D), Gabrio Serafino (D), Tyler Curylo (MF), Colin O'Meara (MF), Fabian Tovar (F), Arcadio Mejia (F); sophomore Tadeo Lara (MF).

Outlook: Palatine was solid up and down its roster last season and turned out to be a cut above the rest in the division, and also later when the Pirates lifted the MSL cup for a record 8th time with a dramatic victory in shootout over Buffalo Grove. However, with a long list of newcomers on his 2013 roster, coach Willie Filian has some work ahead of him. "We have a hard-working group of guys and plenty of depth, but a lot of it has little experience at the varsity level and we need to find a way to score in order to compete with the best in the conference." There are none better than Clancy and Leber in the back, and Filian and his staff always seem to do wonders with their system. Thought there are questions, look for the Pirates to once again be a part of the league title race come early October.


Coach: Hamid Mehreiouskouei (9th year, 118-80-14)

Last year: 7-10-3, lost to Larkin (2-1) in regional final.

Graduation losses: Kacper Wasilewski (MF, all-area, all-MSL, 17g, Northwestern), Raul Alcala (F), Christian Huerta (F), Carlos Sarasti (MF), Marty Faleni (GK), Mike Ralston (D), Ryan Murphy (MF).

Ones to watch: Seniors Cristian Michalowski (D, 2011 all-area, all-MSL), Alan Santana (F), AJ Syvertsen (D), Kristian Pawlikowski (F), Matt Rushing (D); juniors Luccas Greco (D); sophomore Jessie Lopez (F).

New faces: Sophomore Edgar Avila (GK).

Outlook: A battered and bruised Saxons club finally limped home in sixth place in the league standings last fall, 3 games under .500 -- and this just one year after reaching the supersectional final and an appearance in the MSL Cup. Injuries ravaged the roster, including the loss of high-profile defender Michalowski as well as up-and-comer Greco. Both, however, are fit and ready to go this season, making the Saxons' backline instantly its strength, and worthy of this special mention from Mehreioskouei. "That's were we'll be at our best, with Syvertsen there also, and we're also pretty technically sound," he said. "But we are very inexperienced because of our younger players, who need to catch on to our style of play."


Christian Liberty Academy

Coach: Jed Bennett (5th year, 34-36-4)

Last year: 4-12-4 (2-3-0)

Graduation losses: David Colbert (MF, Trinity Christian), Tom Salsgiver (D, Olivet Nazarene), Jack Salsgiver (D, Olivet Nazarene), Connel McHugh (F, Harper JC).

Ones to watch: Seniors Travis Bennett (D), David Morrison (D), Aaron Karr (GK); juniors Josh Nicholson (MF), Joel Arackel (MF); sophomore Walter Baer.

New faces: Senior Josh Groza (MF); juniors Jon Patterson (F,MF), Aaron Lauby (MF), Jeremiah Kim (MF), Logan Williams (D); freshmen Ben Woods (D), Josh Tolford (F).

Outlook: Two years into rebuilding following a history-breaking season in 2011, the Chargers seem to be headed in the right direction -- but perhaps at a slightly slower pace than coach Jed Bennett would like. "We made some strides forward last year after losing so many top players from our championship team, but then we lost the rest of the players leftover from 2011 to graduation this fall, so we're starting over in a lot of spots." The Chargers have just seven players back with varsity experience, including the talented duo of Bennett and Karr, who took over between the sticks midway through last season to become a first-rate keeper and team leader.



Coach: Mark Valintis (7th year, 77-45-19)

Last year: 14-7-2; lost to Glenbrook North 2-1 in regional final

Graduation losses: Juan Recendez (MF, all-area, all-sectional, 25 career goals,Triton JC), Anyer Gonzalez (D, all-WSG,Triton JC), Konrad Dziedzic (GK, all-sectional, 1.00, club), Ricky Pimentel (D, club), Christian Sosnowski (MF, club).

Ones to watch: Seniors Christian Hernandez (F, all-WSG), Tony Guzman (MF, all-area, all-sectional), Kevin Flores (MF), Noe Centeno (MF), Moises Merlos (D, all-WSG); sophomore (Albert Arabik (F, 16g, all-sectional).

New faces: Senior Jaime Gamino (F); sophomores David Senk (MF), Alfredo Recendez (GK).

Outlook: Perhaps one of the most underrated clubs in the area last season after the departure of so many high-profile players from a 2011 team which won a division title, along with 16 matches. Mark Valintis and his staff always seem to prove the pundits wrong, and this year will likely be the same, even after the loss of three players to club soccer as well as four-year standout Juan Recendez. "We have talent and depth in the middle and up top, so we should be able to possess, attack and create, but there's always a concern when you're so young in the back at the start," says Valintis, who will lean on a trio of sophomores in front of a new goalkeeper this fall. What the Eagles do have is a first-class finisher in Arabik; last year he had 16 goal on his way to a rare all-sectional award for a freshman. Midfielder Guzman can do it all, and will make his mark on a match both with and without the ball on his foot.



Coach: Alan Matan (1st year).

Last year: 17-3-3 (4-1-1, T1, CSL North).

Graduation losses: John Deleon (D, all-area, all-sectional), Jecsan Torres (GK, all-area, all-sectional, 31 career shutouts, 0.44), Josh Deleon (MF).

Ones to watch: Seniors Nelson Herrera (F, two-time all-area, all-sectional, 56 career goals), Jonathan Schmitz (D, all-CSL), Jason Gonzalez (F).

New faces: Junoir Danny Silver (MF); sophomore Joey Pulvino (MF).

Outlook: The Warriors were sailing along at a record pace, both in scoring and winning percentage, when the roof caved in late in the season when off-the-field controversy and associated penalties resulted in a quick exit from the state tournament after the Warriors had earned a share of the CSL North crown. "There's only three starters back from last season, and things are different now, but with this junior-dominated team, we'll look to possess and knock the ball around, and, of course, get the ball to Nelson (Herrera) as often as we can," said coach Alan Matan, who returns to take control once again after running the club from 1994 until 2001. Herrera is one of the premier strikers in the state; he fired in 25 goals last fall en route to his spot on the all-area team while narrowly missing a berth on the all-state team.


St. Viator

Coach: Mike Taylor (34th year, 412-127-84), 475-187-105 career

Last year: 21-4-3 (7-1-0, 2nd, ESCC), 3rd place, 2A state tournament.

Graduation losses: Ashwin Cornelius (MF, all-sectional, all-ESCC), Troy Wheeler (D, all-area, all-sectional, two-time all-ESCC, Loras College), Jackson Owens (F, all-ESCC), Mike McGrath (GK, all-ESCC, 0.88, DePaul).

Ones to watch: Seniors Spencer Moore (F, all-state, all-area, 17a), Nick Winter (F, 10g), Mateo Leudo (MF, 8g), Kevin Klinkerberg (MF), Kevin McMahon (MF), Mark Tun (D), Ethan Wolf (D), Ryan Henry (MF); junior Zach Guryicza (MF); Miles McDonald (MF).

New faces: Juniors Javier Romero (MF), Ryan Carroll (MF)

Outlook: The Lions might be one of the smallest clubs in Class 3A this fall, but the club might also be one of the biggest come late October. With nearly everyone back from the third-place state team team from a year ago, including all-state striker Spencer Moore and forward Nick Winter, coach Taylor will have a dynamic strike force. "Those two will be dangerous, but we'll have a very good backline, beginning with (Wolf and Tun) to help us ease in a new keeper," says Taylor, who's closing in on 500 wins. The long-time head coach has far more options on his roster than usual, but like all contenders, there are still questions to answer. Benet is probably the team within the league with the best chance at challenging the Lions, while difficult nonconference dates, including a trip to nationally ranked Marquette University High (Wis), will certainly test St. Viator.

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