Perhaps the biggest turnaround this spring in boys lacrosse has come at Schaumburg.
The Saxons struggled through a 3-13 campaign last year but have won four straight and are currently 6-2.
"Since summer camp the guys indicated that they wanted to turn the image of the program around," Schaumburg first-year coach Joe Carey said. "They completely committed to getting better, playing in fall and winter leagues, which they hadn't done in the past, working hard lifting and they came in hungry."
The Saxons have won their share of close games, beating Vernon Hills 6-5 and Glenbard West 7-6. They've also beaten Mundelein, Conant, Hoffman Estates and Bartlett.
"Our school record for wins is 9 and we feel we have a real good chance of taking that down," Carey said. "One of the goals for the guys is to be the best lacrosse team Schaumburg has ever had."
The Schaumburg program is still a young one, after fielding a team for a first time in 2005.
Senior midfielder Zach Beck has been the Saxons' top midfielder and as a captain is one of the biggest leaders of the squad. Junior attack man Tony DePinto leads the team in scoring while his younger brother, sophomore Christian DePinto has shined in goal. Senior Sam Korbel lead the defense.
"Christian started as a freshman and spends a lot of time working on his game in the off-season," Carey said. "He's been tremendous and a big part of our success and our defense overall has been great."
Carey did implement a new system and new offense, but without the commitment and ability of the players, this turnaround wouldn't have happened.
"They're a really coachable team and they've run with the new system," he said. "We were ranked low and now are in the middle of the pack. The guys want to move up to be mentioned with the top teams in lacrosse, and they've really put in the hard work and dedication to do it."
Lions tame Broncos:
Barrington knew it was going to have a difficult time on Friday night when it met a very talented St. Viator team. What didn't expect was an angry team, but the Lions were coming off a 13-5 loss to Loyola Academy on Tuesday.
Dan O'Malley scored 5 goals, Peter Trunk had 4 assists and Jeremy Linzing added 3 goals and 2 assists as the Lions won handily, 13-6.
"The game was pretty scrappy as expected and I think our kids responded well to the opportunities on man up," St. Viator coach Bill Sanford said. "A lot of credit to the Barrington kids for not giving up and putting up four goals on us late. They played with a lot of heart."
Jackson Owens won 12 of 16 face-offs while Andrew Norris, Sam Mesi and Ed Haubenreiser carried the defense.
"Defensively we are still trying to find consistency and confidence," Sanford said. "At times it looks like we are finding rhythm with the group, but other times you can tell we over-think and play tight."
Mike Julius contributed 3 assists, Chris Baur had a pair of goals and Shane Rooney also scored in the victory.
The Lions have two key conference games next week against Benet and Notre Dame. A pair of victories would ensure the team of its fifth conference championship in six years.
Benet was able to slip past Glenbrook North 8-7 on Saturday and improved to 8-2 on the season.
The Redwings haven't lost since April 19.
"We're improving every game," Benet coach Rich Moran said. "We had some guys out early with injuries and we recently lost an attackman. But the guys have been practicing hard and the goal this year was to finish in the Top 10 or Top 8 and get a bye, and they've been pushing toward that."
Riley Mann and Declan McGuire have solidified the defense in front of keeper Ryan Rowley, while Jake Moran, Conor Moran, Brendan Brosnan and Patrick Fallon have also played significant roles in the team's success. Will Mann, who sustained a broken hand, has also been a key player when healthy, along with Mike Koziol and Chris Coyne.
"They guys have a lacrosse IQ that you can't put a value on, and a lot of it is due to 23 kids being involved in the True Lacrosse program," Moran said. "It's a credit to the kids, their hard work and the time and effort they put in during the off-season that has made a big difference."
The Redwings are still a young team in the sense that they're a sophomore-heavy group, but it's a talented group that entered high school with a lot of lacrosse experience prior to high school.
Wildcats on the prowl:
Neuqua Valley has suddenly become one of the top teams in DuPage County, boasting a 10-2 record through April 29.
"I think the main reason we've been successful is Brian McGinnis has taken over as director, a coaching staff has come in with a lot of experience and then all of these talented kids have bought into the system, especially the juniors and seniors," first-year coach Brendan Gorman said.
The Wildcats have someone they can count on in goal in sophomore Sam Sanko and then the left-handed attack from Dario Rovito gives them a dangerous scoring presence at all times. Joey Rhattigan, who made a name for himself during fall on Friday nights has become one of the better defensive players in the state.
"He's taken over the role for face-offs and has shut down opponents," Gorman said. 'He's got so much athletic ability."
Also leading the way for the Wildcats is midfielder Mike Heimann.
"We're very happy with where we're at right now and the overall outlook is a good one," Gorman said.
Geneva defended its title last weekend in winning the annual West Chicago Sticks and Stones Classic. The Vikings pulled off the feat while going undefeated.
"It was a great weekend. We started very strong, beating everyone by a lot on Saturday," Geneva coach Rick Nobregas said. "On Sunday we started our slow with a good game against Marmion to get into the championship game. All in all, our offense was one fire.'
Matt Landry led the offense and Austin Nobregas paced the defense in front of a solid performance from keeper, Steven Iadizinsky.
"The boys felt very proud to defend the title," Nobregas said. "They were unsure but gained confidence every game."
Marmion's Cadet Challenge:
Marmion will host its annual Cadet Challenge on Saturday, May 5. Area squads of interest among the 16-team field, include Bartlett, Geneva, Grayslake Central, Montini, Naperville Central and West Chicago.
What makes the Cadet Challenge unique is that it affords entire program's to showcase its teams during the same tournament as varsity, JV and frosh/sophomore divisions are all offered. Get your coffee ready as games begin at 7 a.m. with championship games scheduled for approximately 3 p.m.
"The Cadet Challenge is a great opportunity for teams on all levels to come together and play at our premier facility. We are one of the only tournaments in Illinois to offer this format," Marmion coach Kevin Griffin said. "A sense of camaraderie is offered up and appreciated by all teams who year after year come back to play at what has become the standard bearer of lacrosse tournaments."
Off the schneid:
St. Charles East recorded its first varsity victory in program history on Apr. 24, with a 13-7 win over Wheaton North. The winning ways continued for the Saints on Saturday when they handled Naperville Central 13-9.
"You play to get that first win out of the way and the monkey off your back so it's good that the guys now realize they can win and aren't jinxed or anything," Saints coach Chris Conner said. "We weren't playing bad, but played some real good competition, and as a young team you have to show yourselves you can win."
The Saints were down late to Naperville Central but scored five times in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory. Stephen Link led the way, scoring 5 goals, including 3 in the crucial fourth quarter. He also had an assist.