Scouting DuPage County boys soccer

  • Grant Borg of Naperville North moves the ball down field during the Naperville North vs. Waubonsie Valley boys soccer Class 3A Metea Valley sectional semifinals game Tuesday.

      Grant Borg of Naperville North moves the ball down field during the Naperville North vs. Waubonsie Valley boys soccer Class 3A Metea Valley sectional semifinals game Tuesday. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/3/2015 4:35 PM

Top teams: Benet, Hinsdale Central, Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, Wheaton Academy.

Top players: Konrad Bayer (Benet, sr., GK). Nico Bebergall (Wheaton North, sr., D), Anthony Berardi (Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., MF), Grant Borg (Naperville North, sr., MF), Ryan Budicin (Naperville North, sr., MF), Nathan Chalus (Glenbard North, sr., GK), Saul Hernandez (Willowbrook, jr., F), Brandon Howard (Metea Valley, sr., D), Joe Kallikaden (Naperville Central, sr., GK). Jacob Kapitaniuk (Wheaton Academy, sr., MF), Tom Kania (Addison Trail, jr., F), Bryan Loebig (Hinsdale Central, sr., F), Uriel Martinez (Addison Trail, jr., D), Leo Mendoza (Waubonsie Valley, sr., F), Daniel Morefield (Benet, sr., MF/F), Chibuike Nwachukwa (Neuqua Valley, sr., MF), Nicholas Roehl (St. Francis, sr., MF), Nick Rohl (Downers Grove South, jr., F), Ty Seager (Wheaton Academy, sr., F), Nick Silva (Hinsdale Central, sr., D), Eduardo Suarez (West Chicago, jr., MF), Chris Sullivan (Naperville North, sr., MF), Juan Torres (Glenbard East, sr., MF), Jimmy Walker (Hinsdale Central sr., MF).


Outlook: Most probably didn't think that the DuPage Valley Conference could get any tougher, but it did with the addition of Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley. At least one of the nine conference schools has won a sectional title in each of the past nine seasons. Waubonsie Valley coach Jose Garcia said he's excited about the move. "We are looking forward to this challenge because if we come out of this conference it will prepare us for state games," he said. "We have a young group of players who are eager to play against these well-coached and skilled teams." The Warriors (9-3-7 last year) appear strong offensively, but will need to shore up some things defensively to be competitive.

Metea Valley (9-10-3) is coming off a losing season, but returns plenty of talent from that squad. With seniors Brandon Howard (defender) and Joey Coryell (goalkeeper) and Michael Adams (midfield) leading the way, the Mustangs will look to make their DVC debut a successful one. Look for sophomore forward Alfonso Castillo to be in the mix offensively. Longtime assistant coach Arnoldo Gonzalez takes over for Skip Begley at Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats are coming off a strong season (14-7-1) and once again are led by a strong midfield with seniors Douglas Smith and Chibuike Nwachuka returning as well as newcomers Steven Nickla and Josh Kolzow. Forward Billy Heniades and senior defender Max Plesh will also play key roles as the Wildcats also make their DVC debut.

Returning conference champs, Naperville North, will have the target on its back and for good reason. They're coming off a 16-5-3 season in which they won a sectional title before falling to Class 3A champion Hinsdale Central on PKs in a supersectional. They also have a lot of talent with returning starters Chris Sullivan, Grant Borg, Nick Carballo, Riley Wiest, Adam Helf and Kevin Keane, as well as two special additions from the Chicago Fire Academy in senior Ryan Budicin and freshman Josh Penn. "Adding two players of this caliber up top will make the Huskies fun to watch in the attack," Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. Sullivan will lead the team from the top while Borg is the dominating presence in the midfield. Wiest brings plenty of experience back in goal while Carballo will lead the back line of defense.

The Huskies' biggest local rival, Naperville Central (13-2-6), only lost twice last season but both came against the Huskies. The Redhawks graduated the majority of their starting lineup from last year, so coach Troy Adams said: "There will be continuous competition for starting positions and playing time. We have several versatile players, and will spend the early part of the season trying to figure out the best place on the field to use them. Also, for the first time in several years, we do not have a scoring threat returning." Seniors Noah Canlas, Chris Schwaiger, Neal Hasan and junior Griffin Geisler started for most of last fall, while senior Joe Kallikaden is a proven keeper who will look for leadership from Geisler in leading the back line.

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Glenbard North went 9-6-3 last year despite featuring four juniors and five sophomores in the starting lineup. That experience should bode well for the Panthers this fall. "The majority of our returning players played high-level soccer in the off-season against these very same teams," Panthers coach Gregg Koeller said. "I truly believe our kids are talented enough and confident enough to compete with any team on our schedule this fall." Emena, who led the Panthers in scoring and Danny Koeller, who was the team's top assist man, both return, as well as third-year keeper, Nathan Chalus. Danny Ramirez and Miki Ramirez are two key additions who return to the team after dedicating last year to club play.

Wheaton Warrenville South returns eight players from last year's 6-13-3 team, including Anthony Berardi, Danny Jimenez and keeper Adam Mrzlak. "We will have pace in areas of significance helping to expose weaknesses offensively and recover defensively," Tigers coach Guy Callipari said. "Our concerns come in the form of a competitive schedule and inexperience in our depth." As if the DVC schedule isn't challenging enough, Callipari and his squad also will play in the Barrington tournament and the Pepsi Showdown.

Wheaton North welcomes new coach Rob Stassen. "Our biggest strength is our aggressive mindset and ability to move the ball," Stassen said. "(Our biggest) weakness is being greedy, selfish in the final one-third." Nico Bibergall, Jake Dzarnowski and Cooper Winkler are all back to lead the Falcons, while junior Jake Mendez and sophomores Joey Simon and Jorge Petino are a pair of newcomers who will be asked to perform well in the midfield. "The team has a great core of maturity and returners," Stassen said. "The new additions fill in all of the gaps and have the ability/skill to pass the ball quickly with precision."

Finally, Lake Park is coming off a 20-2-4 season and has a roster that boasts 14 seniors. The Lancers should be especially strong in back, with defenders Josh Solarz and Brody Thompson and goalkeeper Michael Jasiak, as well as in the midfield with Anthony Passi and Michael Passi. Once again, the Lancers get a chance to host the Hillner Classic early on in the season.


Changes to the Upstate Eight Valley Conference leaves only Glenbard East and West Chicago as local teams of note. West Chicago is coming off a 10-10-2 season and returns juniors Eduardo Suarez, Renato Bonilla, and Sean Sweeney and seniors Luis Correa and Josh Guercio. The Wildcats should be able to keep possession, but as has been an issue in the past, a lack of size will make it difficult to win balls in the air. "We are looking to have a great year with some key returners and some new additions," West Chicago coach Jose Villa said. "If this group can work to its fullest potential, they will be successful."

Glenbard East coach Josh Adler said that this year's team is a "young group of guys that play fast and scrappy." The team lacks varsity experience so the Rams will have a major learning curve. "The boys have goals of playing with urgency, perseverance and committing," Adler said. "We are hoping to gain valuable experience early on and learn to adapt our play to what it takes to succeed at the varsity level. (We) hope to find some confidence in our play and find ways to keep ourselves in the game." Senior midfielder Juan Torres leads a talented midfield, along with Librardo Olivares and Johnny Longo. Senior Genaro Caltenco is expected to control the back line, along with newcomers Rogelio Najera and Mason Arnold.

Addison Trail hopes to improve on last year's 7-10-1 mark. The Blazers had six underclassmen on last year's squad, so they'll certainly have more experience. Junior forward Tom Kania is back, along with junior defender Uriel Martinez, senior midfielder Damian Zielinski, sophomore forward Jonathan Hernandez and senior goalie Cosme Garcia. "We have a lot of juniors that will be starting for the second straight year, so they have varsity experience," Addison Trail coach Ryan Dini said. "We expect to have a very good defense and an offense that will use its speed and ball control abilities to be dangerous on the offensive end." It should be interesting to see how well the Blazers fare in the West Suburban Gold. A tough early-season schedule should certainly prepare them.

Willowbrook has made some nice strides in recent years and will look to continue to do so again behind junior forward Saul Hernandez. Aaron Johnson and Lucas Bett will also be key, while sophomore midfielder Miguel Correa is a newcomer with a lot of talent. "Our talent and our depth in the midfield positions and at forward promises lots of goal scoring this year," Willowbrook coach Peter Ginter said. "Defense is a concern, especially after losing key central defender Mike Sommers with a broken arm."

Seniors Zach Duffy, Paul Figus, Chris Metcalf and Mykolas Meilus are back to lead Hinsdale South. "The past few seasons have been challenging, especially when it comes to scoring," Hornets coach James VanDenburgh said. "So, this season, we are looking to get more offensive opportunities and make the most of them."

Downers Grove South went 5-1 in conference last year and has a lot of talent back in the mix, including IHSSCA all-sectional Nick Rohl and goalkeeper Sam Dumford. Junior forwards Dylan Mobley and Garrett Burns also return along with midfielder Peter Becht and senior defender, Ryan Strelau. The team has a lot of depth and competition for starting positions was good heading into the season. "We have a very cohesive group both on and off the field," Mustangs coach Jon Stapleton said. "I have been very pleased early on with our team chemistry."

Hinsdale Central, the defending Class 3A champ and winner of three consecutive undefeated West Suburban Silver titles, bid farewell to standouts Evan Floersch and Wes Bergevin but still returns a lot of talent all over the field. Six starters return, including midfielders Jake Semba, Mikey Usher, Jeremy Yi and Jimmy Walker, forward Bryan Loebig and defender Nick Silva. Senior Ethan Gama replaces Bergevin in goal. In addition, Louis St. John and Rigoberto Rojas are a pair of seniors who join the team after spending the past two years in the U.S. Developmental Academy. "The return to high school soccer of these two individuals along with the strength of the overall team roster, presents another strong season ahead for the Red Devils," coach Michael Wiggins said. Wiggins picked up his 300th victory at Hinsdale Central on Aug. 27 in a 2-0 win over Metea Valley. Downers Grove North is coming off an 8-11-1 season and remains fairly young but has some talent. Seniors Sam Crowley, Liam Budnik and Carter Tome all return while juniors Alex Pacheco and Ronaldo Perez and senior defender Daniel Schuller are new to the squad. "We're looking to make a statement this year and strive to put Downers Grove North back on the map as a top soccer program," Trojans second-year coach Mike Schmitt said.

In Elmhurst, York has a new coach in Lukasz Majewski who takes over for Markus Roy. "We are a young, but talented and hardworking team," Majewski said. We expect to compete in every game we play and be a competitive force in the conference this year." Coming off a third-place effort in conference, the Dukes welcome back seniors Lucas Frantzis and Nick Sasanelli.

Glenbard West's roster boasts only upperclassmen, 19 of them, but the Hilltoppers have started slowly with an 8-1 loss to Plainfield North in their season opener.

Benet loses an All-America scorer in Kyle Kenagy but the Redhawks still should be extremely good with 15 returning players, including seven starters, including midfielder/forward Daniel Morefield, goalkeeper Konrad Bayer, Connor Mote and Bennett Curtis. In addition sophomore Nick Trakszelis joins the squad after scoring more than 20 goals on the JV squad last fall. Sophomore forward Jason Rowaive also has a lot talent. "I think we have a chance to be a Top 10 team in the state," Benet coach Sean Wesley said. "This is most technical ability we have had in at least the past six years and maybe since the team last won state in 2001."

St. Francis returns a good amount of talent and has a strong senior class but once again will be tested with a schedule filled with quality Class 3A programs. Nicholas Roehl is a proven scorer, while fellow senior Jonathan Burke is a proven commodity in goal. In addition, seniors David Gianos, Keenan Corrigan and Matthew Martin give the team a lot of experience in the midfield, while a handful of newcomers, including freshmen Sean Conley and Nicholas Guilli, also will play pivotal roles.

Montini coach Barry Briggs said, "we look to be a very young and inexperienced team this year." Senior co-captains Danny Kopsky and Tom Giannola return to lead the Broncos while Briggs is hopeful for big things from sophomore Nathan Lukasik. A couple of other underclassmen, Max Hanzlick and Anthony Burger, will play key roles as well.

Wheaton Academy graduated 13 seniors from last year's Class 2A champion squad, but the Warriors shouldn't be expected to slow down anytime soon, especially with last year's All-Area captain, Ty Seager back, as well as Jacob Kapitaniuk and Elias McCloud, among others. "Our group and our program is more experienced in pressure situations than ever before," Warriors coach Jeff Brooke said. "Our run to state last year provided a visual for how hard you have to work to experience success." Look for Ethan Stoneman and Luis Rocha as two newcomers who will try to help the Warriors forget about some of their key losses due to graduation. They'll be the team to beat again in the Metro Suburban Conference while they make the leap from Class 2A to Class 3A.

Glenbard South won 13 times last year but also lost 13 seniors. The Raiders are going to need a lot of newcomers to step in and play well this season, including seniors Kiran Sandiford and Edson Gomez, junior Luke Vazzano and freshman Spencer Pyle among others. Senior Neil Livingston and junior Matt Waters return with experience and will need to get their teammates up to speed. Pyle is the younger brother of David and Michael Pyle, twins who helped the Raiders advance to a supersectional in 2010. Adam Szyszko, previously an assistant coach, will be in his first year at the helm.

Fenton hopes to make a run at Wheaton Academy and with a lot of talent returning, it should certainly be in the discussion. Sophomores Angel Barriga and Julio Diaz and seniors Juan Ayala, Paul Plizga and Jakob Slomkowski all bring a lot to the field with the aforementioned seniors being fourth-year players. Coach David Alvarez has also been pleased with what he's seen from Jose Bahena and Kacper Piskorz, a transfer from Maine East. "We hope to challenge Wheaton Academy in our division," Alvarez said. "Once again, we're playing a tough schedule to get ready for the postseason with Addison Trail, Hinsdale Central and St. Joe's. We lost Lyons, but we added Mather, which is a tough city school. The quality schedule should prepare us."

Timothy Christian has a chance to be really, really good coming off a 19-5-1 season. The team has senior experience in Mitch Evenhouse and Ben Lodewyk, while junior Josh Anderson and sophomores Michael Martens and Jimmy Allen also are back. "Athleticism and solid defending will be our strengths this year," Timothy Christian first-year coach Stephen Fernandes said. "We have a real solid back line with two great defending center mids in front of them. We also have many athletic starters." Playing bigger schools will undoubtedly prepare the team for the Class 1A series.

IC Catholic Prep introduces a boys soccer program for the first time. Coach Javier Andrade has plenty of experience coaching in travel leagues and hopes to slowly develop players. "We're mostly basketball players so our main objective is to develop players," he said. "You love to win, but we know it's going to be tough being a new program. I want the kids to have fun and to fight hard and not give up."

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