Class 1A St. Edward regional
Pairings: Game 1) No. 1 St. Edward vs. No. 4 Christian Liberty Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.; Game 2) No. 2 Aurora Central Catholic vs. No. 3 Elgin Academy, Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.; Game 3) winner of Game 1 vs. winner of Game 2 Saturday, Oct. 19 11 a.m.
Outlook: Top-seeded St. Edward will host its first regional at Greg True Field and home cookin' might propel the Green Wave to back-to-back regional titles.
Coach Tim Brieger's team has alternated wins and losses this season and the Wave will be looking for consistency in the postseason. But there might be an omen. The Wave are undefeated against each team in the regional. But St. Edward can't afford to get complacent against Christian Liberty in the opener.
"My big fear is that the guys might come out (and think), 'oh, we already beat them, we should beat them again'" said Brieger, whose team beat Christian Liberty (0-14-1) 4-1 this season. "We're definitely not looking past the first game, it's going to be interesting. They're going to come in wanting revenge. They played us close."
The Wave (8-10-2) will look to move the ball around quickly and attack the perimeters while being assertive and concerned about their game and not playing to the other teams' style. Juniors Joe French (19 goals), Austin Pfeiffer (10 assists) and Matt Hesch (7 goals) will contribute offensively.
Goalie John Goetheridge allowed 42 goals in 20 games (2.1 goals allowed avg.), which includes 2 shutouts.
"On the other side, you've got Elgin Academy and Aurora Central Catholic. Elgin Academy gave us everything we could handle (Thursday) night and we escaped out of that one," Brieger said.
The Wave needed 2 goals from French in the second half to sneak by Elgin Academy 2-1 win Thursday. St. Edward also beat ACC 4-2 this season.
But Elgin Academy (3-11-1) will not be a pushover. Although coach Juan Silva's squad lacks depth, the Hilltoppers have been able to rattle off some key victories, including a win over Harvest Christian. Last year the Hilltoppers were ousted by the Wave 4-2 in the regional semi. If Elgin Academy can get past ACC, it will get a rematch with St. Edward. Focus and aggressiveness will be key Elliott Wittmeyer (sweeper) and Julian Romano, who leads the team in goal scoring, will be the catalysts.
"The first and only choice we have to play is aggressive with our forwards," Silva said. "The only thing I need to do is improve the scoring. We've been getting into the (box) but we haven't been able to put it (past) the goalie. We've been (getting) a lot of balls there, we've been getting there very often and easy."
Advancement: The winner of the St. Edward regionals plays the winner of the Genoa-Kingston regional in the Genoa-Kingston sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 4:15 p.m.
Class 1A Genoa-Kingston regional
Pairings: Game 1) No. 1 Harvest Christian vs. No. 4 Cristo Rey St. Martin Tuesday, 4:15 p.m. Game 2) No. 2 Westminster Christian vs. No. 3 Genoa-Kingston, Wednesday, 4:15 p.m.; Game 3) winner of Game 1 vs. winner of Game 2 Saturday, Oct. 19 11 a.m.
Outlook: Harvest Christian garnered a top seed for the first time in school history, but it only seems appropriate in the maturation process of a program on the rise. From its 6-10-1 debut in 2011 to an 8-8-2 record last season, now at 10-6 overall this year, expectations are high. After losing two previous regional play-in games, do the Lions have what it takes to make a new benchmark in the program with their first postseason win and regional title?
"It's been a three-year sort of progress for me to sort of get them into a mindset -- it's different to want to win games and it's different to will to win games," Lions coach Jason Acres said. "The only way you win is by the work you put into it so there's that mentality but we're not focused on the goal of winning a regional game or winning a regional title. It's taking one game at a time and working really hard in that game and letting the outcome speak for itself."
The Lions' first matchup is against an unfamiliar Cristo Rey St. Martin (8-0). Coached by Jhonny Toro, a native of Colombia, South America, St. Martin has defenders in senior Jesus Martinez, sophomore Jonathan Cruz and junior Alexis Estela with Juan Bosque (senior) in net for a formidable wall, allowing 5 goals in 8 games. The team has scored 39 goals for an average just under 5 per game, led by Juan Nolasco.
Harvest will counter with Dan Turpin (center-mid) and Adam Salowitz (defender, 5 goals, 2 assists), who registered a hat-trick in a 6-0 win over Berean Baptist Thursday. Acres' fleet of freshman might be the difference. Rapheal De Souza leads the Lions with 8 goals and 3 assists and Antonio Navarez has 6 goals and 4 assists this season. Aaron Ptak (6 goals) and Cesar Velazquez (5 assists) round up the freshman group and junior goaltender Noah Fox, a point guard on the basketball team who converted to goalie after not having played a game until this season, allowed 22 goals, a 1.43 goals against average. "He's just an animal," Acres said of Fox, who has 5 shutouts. "If we don't have him, we're nowhere near the type of team we are."
Harvest could battle its next door neighbor for the regional title if seeds hold. Westminster won the two regular-season matchups 1-0 and 4-1. The Warriors (9-6) will look for their first regional win since 2010 and there is a potential sectional matchup down the road with St. Edward, whichj has booted the Warriors out of the previous two postseasons. But Warriors coach Erik Schwartz isn't looking down the road. He knows Genoa-Kingston will be dangerous on its home turf and his team will have to play less frantic, especially in the midfield, to move on.
"We're dealing with Genoa, we have to get by them. I feel like they should have been the one-seed," Schwartz said. "They're a good team and I'm not looking past those guys."
The Warriors are led by juniors Robbie Kleczynski (19 goals), Chase Woods (9 goals) and Chad Thomason (11 assists) with the other Kleczynski brother, Nick, is a freshman wild card. The Kleczynski "clique" can run wild sometimes. In a nonconference win against Cornerstone Christian, Robbie notched a hat trick and 2 assists to Nick's 2 goals. Both have the capability to score in bunches, as Nick scored 2 in a win over IMSA. Robbie scored 4 goals in a 4-3 win over Elgin Academy. The team is real physical at times and the Warriors have to keep that mentality alive.
"The team's being playing real physical and that's been huge these past few weeks," Schwartz said. "We've been physically dominating teams. We've bent tackling hard, not giving a whole lot of space to the midfield and really making extra efforts."
If keeper Alex Wocjic can't go against the Cogs, sophomore Ian Merlak is more than capable of filling in. He shut out Byron in a 2-0 win last week.
Advancement: The winner of the Genoa-Kingston regional plays the winner of the St. Edward regional in the Genoa-Kingston sectional semifinal on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 4:15 p.m.