Boys soccer: Fox Valley All-Area Team

By Steve Nichols
Updated 11/2/2017 12:56 PM
  • Julian Ajroja

    Julian Ajroja

  • Truitt Battin

    Truitt Battin

  • Jack Cottrell

    Jack Cottrell

  • Daniel Dominguez

    Daniel Dominguez

  • Bernard Elegbede

    Bernard Elegbede

  • A.J. Franklin

    A.J. Franklin

  • Braeden Frenette

    Braeden Frenette

  • Nikolas Getzinger

    Nikolas Getzinger

  • Rafa Gil

    Rafa Gil

  • Tucker Jahns

    Tucker Jahns

  • Josh Johansen

    Josh Johansen

  • Also Lazaro

    Also Lazaro

  • Omar Lopez

    Omar Lopez

  • John McCaffrey

    John McCaffrey

  • Noah Melick

    Noah Melick

  • Jake Persenico

    Jake Persenico

  • Colin Walsh

    Colin Walsh

  • Jabari Washington

    Jabari Washington

  • Peter Willis

    Peter Willis

  • Patient Yuha

    Patient Yuha

  • Andy Zavala

    Andy Zavala

  • Aleksandar Zdravkovic

    Aleksandar Zdravkovic

Julian Ajroja (Sr., F) Dundee-Crown

This Michigan State-bound forward dazzled opponents with his ability in the final third the past 2 years and was a major reason why Dundee-Crown not only went undefeated in the regular season but grabbed the Fox Valley Conference title as well. Ajroja's numbers didn't disappoint, as the all-stater scored 16 goals and added 13 assists, good for a second-straight all-area bid. In addition to all-sectional and all-FVC honors for a third season, Ajroja capped a 2-year run totaling 34 goals and 26 assists. "Julian is that special player that comes around every once in a while," D-C coach Rey Vargas said. "He is a four-year varsity player and made an impact every year he played. I've seen Julian grown as a player and a person over those four years and believe that he is deserving of this recognition."

Truitt Battin (Jr., MF) St. Charles East

This first time all-area selection scored 12 goals and had 4 assists en route to all-Upstate Eight and sectional honors. Battin, who finished fifth in all-state voting, showed his dynamic ability and how dangerous he was with both feet. "He has the ability to take players on and create scoring chances for himself and others," East coach Vince DiNuzzo said. "Truitt's also very dangerous from set pieces. We're looking forward to his senior year with us." 

Jack Cottrell (Sr., MF) Geneva

Another first time entrant to the all-area list, Cottrell, an-all sectional pick for another year and all-UEC, was the engine that ran the Vikings' offense. His 5 goals and 4 assists won't show the influence he had directing in the midfield. "His technical ability coupled with the mental side of his game allows him to see passes others can't, dribble at back lines to create opportunities for himself and others, and finish chances when given the chance," Geneva coach Jason Bhatta said. "Jack is everything you want in a captain and a student-athlete. He always trains hard, encourages others, and demands a high level of performance for the team whether in games or training." 

Daniel Dominguez (Sr., GK) Streamwood

The lone goalie on the all-area team, this repeat all-UEC, all-sectional keeper made his second-straight all-area team by upping his shutout total from last season's 5 to 7 this year, allowing just 16 goals with a goal allowed average of 0.78. His 6-foot-4 body frame provides length but his quickness goes a long way. "He's got the overall package and he's just so quick," said Sabres coach Matt Polovin, who also praised Dominiguez's reaction time as well. "He just had another phenomenal season. He's very very tough to put the ball in the back of the net on. He takes up so much space in-between the pipes so if you're going to score on him, it has to be a goalzo or something." 

Bernard Elegbede (Sr., F) St. Charles North

"Fight for me, fight for you," is the best way you can describe this speedy forward, who makes his all-area debut. This all-UEC, all-sectional honorable mention used that mantra verbally and made his actions known on the field with his scoring ability, scoring 11 goals and adding 5 assists. "He's obviously a pretty good goal scorer; he's dangerous in the box for us," said North coach Eric Willson, who praised Elegbede's awareness of knowing where to be at big times. "That's something you can't really teach or coach, that instinct to know where to put yourself and that's a true goal scorer has that knack to find the right spot in the box to be in as your teammates are driving toward the goal, he's been really good at that."

A.J. Franklin (Sr., F) St. Edward

Falling one goal short of tying the all-time IHSA single-season record, this 3-time all-area selection was named Honorary Captain of the Daily Herald's Fox Valley All-Area Team after leading his team to third place in Class 1A. Franklin followed a 40-goal season with 70 this season to go with 10 assists for a whopping total of 150 points. Fourteen times Franklin had at least a hat trick or more in a game, and it was most goals scored since 2011. He also topped 5 on two occasions. "Early on he was getting them and you're doing the stats and I went, 'wow, he's averaging three goals a game in conference, he's averaging a hat trick, there's something special going on there,' " Green Wave coach Tim Brieger said. "With him, it's demeanor. As he's gotten older his game has become more complete and he recognizes what's going to happen and he figures out a way to overcome it. He's become a complete package." 

Braeden Frenette (Sr. D) Hampshire

A first-timer on the all-area squad, Frenette was a big reason Hampshire came away with a Class 3A regional title. An all-sectional defender who tallied 2 goals and 4 assists, this 2-time all-FVC selection can deliver long free kicks with accuracy and is calm under pressure while marking or playing zonal defense. "He has the speed and strengths where forwards are unable to get behind him. He consistently wins one-on-one battles, is very strong in the air, and shows no hesitation in getting in front of hard shot balls," Whips coach Rick Schuster said. "He reads the game very well and I have been impressed how well he anticipates passes, knows when to step up and is very good in organizing the defense. "

Nikolas Getzinger (Sr., MF) CL South

Known as the "Zinger," this 2-time all-area selection finished his 4-year varsity career with quite the resume. This season's 15 goals and 6 assists gave the senior 123 career points, which includes totals of 53 goals and 17 assists with two regional titles to boot. A reason why he obtained his third all-FVC and all-sectional selection: he's a dynamic, two-way mid who can control matches with his tenacious tackling ability, according to Gators coach Brian Allen. "He's dominant in the air on set pieces and on 50-50s, and always helped to set the tempo for our team the last 4 years, even back as a freshman," Allen said. "When he was given space, he has the ability to unlock a defense and open up space for his teammates or himself to potentially take over a game."

Rafa Gil (Sr., D/MF) Streamwood

A captain, a 4-year starter and now first time all-area selection, Gil, much like teammate Aldo Lazaro, kept maturing and getting stronger as the years went on at Streamwood. And despite just 2 goals and 3 assists for the Sabres, his ability to defend and push up when needed made him a weapon in the midfield, especially if his motor got into a second gear. "He learned to play the center back position and he's a little mini-teacher out there," said Sabres coach Matt Polovin. "He became an all-around defender/center back and really helped our team overall. But he really helped our defensive unit back there, made them so strong."

Tucker Jahns (So., F) Kaneland

This all-sectional, all-NI Big 12 forward who lives and breathes soccer, seized an opportunity for the Knights in a breakout season that showed his ability to score with 26 goals and 10 assists to boot. "He has a nose for the goal, just knows how to score," Knights coach Scott Parillo said. "And unfortunately, now he's known. It might be a little harder for him to put the ball in the back of the net but as hard of a worker as he is, he'll be just be fine."

Josh Johansen (So., MF) St. Edward

This sophomore had everyone beat in the area assist department and it wasn't even close. A first timer on the all-area list and all-Metro Suburban, Johansen conjured up 43 in total, which tied for fourth-best for a single season in the state and the most since 1976. In addition to his 18 goals, this midfielder was instrumental during St. Edward's run to third place in Class 1A with his understanding of the game and knowing where his teammates like receiving the ball. "Probably has the best field awareness that I have ever coached," St. Edward coach Tim Brieger said. "I'm convinced that if you stopped the game and closed his eyes he can point to everyone on the field. He just knows where everybody is and where everybody is going. It's crazy. He has insane field vision and field awareness." 

Aldo Lazaro (Sr., MF) Streamwood

Last year, this 2-time all-area choice and 2-time all-stater had just 10 goals and 10 assists. This year, he provided 15 goals and 2 assists. What did Lazaro do in his senior season to boost his play? "Probably just becoming more mature on the field," Sabres coach Matt Polovin said. "Part of it is being the captain and being more mature. Being a 4-year varsity starter, showing people how to play the game the right way …. he really found a way to put it all together." Lazaro made the Sabres go offensively and again was all-UEC and all-sectional. "Everyone knew who he was," Polovin said. "Even on double teams -- he always found a way to get out of them and find his teammates. He always found a way to get himself in a goal-scoring position, beat a guy one-on-one and uses his power and finesse to put the ball in."

Omar Lopez (Jr., F) Elgin

With a 60-40 finesse to power capability and good field awareness, this first time all-area and all-UEC selection had his way at times no matter what he needed to do. Lopez's 29 goals and 11 assists helped Elgin to the UEC River title and he had that instinct you can't teach according to coach Dave Borg, knowing whether to dish it off or take it himself. "He has a real tendency of being in the right place at the right time, he can play with his back to the goal or he can play straight on and he's rather elusive," Borg said. "Even though he was double-teamed, he has a real knack of finding some open space and once he gets the ball, he had the ability to dribble to that open space."

John McCaffrey (Sr., MF) Kaneland

The unanimous NI Big XII Player of the Year and all-sectional selection makes his first all-area list and coach Scott Parillo might've summed it up best about this 5-foot- mid who scored 6 goals and 5 assists en route to Kaneland's first conference title. "You love to have him on your team and hate to go against him," Parillo said. "He's got a great pass and he's just such a hard worker. He wins almost every 50-50 ball he goes up for. Great footwork, great speed, physical, what more can you ask for?"

Noah Melick (Sr., F) Jacobs

The Fox Valley loses one of the best ever to lace them up, as Melick heads to Wisconsin with a resume that speaks for itself. A 2-time Daily Herald Fox Valley Honorary Captain and 3-time all-FVC, Melick doubled his goal output going from his freshman to junior seasons, but his senior season saw a double in assists. A 30-goal, 17-assist output showed a different Melick than in recent years. "What's more impressive to me is that he took on a different role this year, he absolutely put himself in the middle of the team and really became the emotional leader of the group," Jacobs coach Anthony Cappello said. "He was slow out of the gate with goals and developed into more of a creator but as the year wore on and matchups changed, we could put him in more of a goal-scoring ability and to create depend on the matchup." Earning all-state honors again, Melick's total of 87 goals and 22 assists totals round out a great career that saw him grow and not having to rely on athletic and technical ability. "To be able to balance those two mentalities over the course of the game and still produce is something that's not easy for a lot of kids and another layer to his game he's developed," Cappello added. "He's got a lot less shots on goal so he's been more proficient because he's become a more intelligent soccer player and he's putting himself in better position to not only finish balls but create. "

Jake Persenico (Sr., F) St. Charles North

Another all-area first timer, this all-UEC, all-sectional forward supplied 14 goals and 6 assists this season and knows how to tuck the ball away, shoot from the outside, check into space, get the ball at his feet, turn and make it a nightmare for opposing defenders. "He is able to turn and face a defender up and that's a problem for that defender. He can beat you going right; he can beat you going left which is obviously a good asset to have," North Stars coach Eric Willson said. "But his finishing ability is what separates him this year. He has a ton of composure in and out of the 18-yard box. He's got a heckuva shot from distance." 

Jabari Washington (Jr., D) Dundee-Crown

This 3-year varsity player only scored 1 goal and had 1 assist but it's not indicative of what the junior did on the D-C back line, where he earned all-FVC and all-sectional honors thanks to a motor that never stalls. "Jabari is a player that every coach would love to have," Chargers coach Rey Vargas said. "He's a hardworking defender and never quits. He only knows how to play and practice in one speed and he will always give you 100 percent effort no matter what. Jabari is easily one of the top defenders in the area." 

Colin Walsh (Sr., MF) Jacobs

A regular on the all-area and all-sectional list, this all-FVC midfielder added well-deserved all-state honors thanks to his explosion in the goal scoring department. From 5 goals and 17 assists last year to 25 goals and 26 assists this season, his technical ability and field vision now comes ready with a clinical touch that's definitely eye-opening. "I don't think we anticipated numbers like these," Jacobs coach Anthony Cappello said. "I don't think I ever realized how clinical he is as a finisher and you can tell that this year. Whether it's his ability to finish the ball and get more attack-minded positions on the field or dropping deeper to solidify the midfield, he has the ability to contribute by any means."

Peter Willis (Sr., D) St. Charles North

This defender's switch from the wing to the back line due to an injury his sophomore season really showed its benefit this season, as Willis (4 goals, 1 assist) earned all-area honors for the first time. This all-state high jumper moved from outside to central mid this season, and became a leader for the North Stars who gained all-sectional and all-UEC honors because of it. "We slid him into an outside back position (two years ago) and the light bulb went on and that was the end of his forward days," SCN coach Eric Willson said. "Since then he's been awesome. He has the ability to cover sideline to sideline with his pace, athleticism. It's just fantastic." 

Patient Yuha (Jr., F) West Aurora

This first time all-area selection, who came from Tanzania in the spring, allowed his play to speak for itself which earned him all-Upstate Eight Valley and all-state honors. "His vision resulted in leading our team with 12 assists. He also scored five game-winning goals," West Aurora coach Joe Sustersic said. "Patient helped West Aurora win its first conference championship in school history."

Andy Zavala (Sr., D) Elgin 

When this defender was healthy, Elgin was clearly a different unit in the back. A catalyst who scored 2 goals and 3 assists, this all-UEC and first time all-area selection was a captain for Elgin, a four-year starter who helped the Maroons take home a conference title. "Zavala is a defender with the stamina and running ability of a midfielder who can take it 80 yards and make something happen," Elgin coach Dave Borg said. "When he was in there, it was nice to watch because he was a shutdown defender and when he had an open look he'd take it. It was like having an extra midfielder on the field."

Aleksandar Zdravkovic (So., F) Larkin

This first-time all-area selection made his varsity debut in 2017 and did not disappoint. An all-UEC selection, Zdravkovic was a potent scorer with 26 goals. The sophomore also dished 7 assists, but that strong leg wasn't really seen until midseason when teams recognized what Larkin had at the top. "Teams knew real quick they'd have to account for him because if they didn't he was going to score a lot," said Royals coach Ken Hall, who spoke highly of Zdravkovic's ability to take people one-on-one. "He has a nose for the goal and scoring and there's been a trend players really don't know how to finish and score and when you get a player that does all that, I think that's special. He obviously helped us win a lot of games because he was able to score."

Honorable Mention

Eric Anderson (Sr., F) -- Geneva

Riley Arnold (Sr., D) -- St. Charles East

Dan Buirge (Sr., MF) -- Jacobs

Alex Canfield (So., F) -- CL South

Jack Fairwood (Jr., MF/F) -- Hampshire

Will Gaston (Sr., MF) -- St. Edward

Ivan Juanchi (Sr., MF) -- Dundee-Crown

Alex Kirkby (Sr., MF) -- South Elgin

Jesus Lopez (Sr., MF) -- Elgin

Jack Schramme (Sr., F) -- Burlington Central

James Serrano (Jr., F) -- Marmion

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