Top teams: Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North, York.
Top games: Metea Valley at Lockport, March 12; Metea Valley at Neuqua Valley, March 13; Naperville Central at Waubonsie Valley, March 13; Fenwick Dan Lynch Classic, March 15-16; Naperville Central at Naperville North, March 20 Metea Valley at Waubonsie Valley, March 20; Hinsdale Central at Neuqua Valley, March 20; Metea Valley at Sandburg, March 21; Oak Park-River Forest at York, March 21; York Invite, March 23-24; Neuqua Valley at Naperville Central, April 3; Hinsdale South at Oak Park-River Forest, April 3; Waubonsie Valley at Naperville North, April 3; Lyons Township Invite, April 6-7; Hinsdale Central at Hinsdale South, April 9; Naperville North at Metea Valley, April 10; Waubonsie Valley at Neuqua Valley, April 10; Hinsdale South at MICDS Tournament in Missouri, April 13-14; Best of the West Tournament at Naperville North, April 13-14; Waubonsie Valley Warrior Invite, April 14; Naperville North at Neuqua Valley, April 17; York at Neuqua Valley, April 23; Hinsdale Central at Oak Park-River Forest, April 24; Metea Valley at Hinsdale Central, April 26; Stevenson Tournament, April 27-28.
Top players: Kyle Brennan (Hinsdale South, Sr.); Jordan Brosius (Metea Valley, Sr.); Calvin Chow (Naperville North, Sr.); Simon DeGrace (York, Sr.); Gary Derwin (York, Sr.); Andrew Eber (Metea Valley, Sr.); Kent Emden (Naperville Central, Jr.); Brady Erdman (Metea Valley, Jr.); Duncan Ferguson (Hinsdale Central, Sr.); Tyler Flanders (Metea Valley, Jr.); Cade Griffith (Hinsdale Central, Jr.); Zach Griffith (Hinsdale Central, Jr.); Jack Hiss (Neuqua Valley, Jr.); Ashton Howser (Metea Valley, Sr.); Kevin Jay (Hinsdale Central, Jr.); Luke Klein-Collins (Naperville Central, Jr.); Raphael Kosta (Metea Valley, Jr.); Isaac Marlott (York, Jr.); Tommy Matulis (Hinsdale South, So.); Dominic May (Naperville Central, Sr.); Chase McClure (Naperville North, Jr.); Brian McManus (Hinsdale Central, Jr.); Lucas Nervig (Naperville Central, Sr.); Mason Rebie (Waubonsie Valley, Sr.); Ryan Ruhde (Waubonsie Valley, Jr.); Alan Rosenberg (Neuqua Valley, So.); Bender Russo (Naperville Central, Jr.); Brad Sanford (Naperville Central, Jr.); Patrick Savage (Hinsdale South, Jr.); Scottie Spinazola (Hinsdale Central, Sr.); Colin Szezseny (Metea Valley, Jr.); Rhys Tallentire (Hinsdale Central, Jr.); Jack Tarantino (Naperville North, So.); Quentin Tiscareno (Waubonsie Valley, Sr.); Riley Thompson (Naperville North, So.); Matt Townsend (Neuqua Valley, Jr.); Kyle Wright (Naperville North, Jr.).
Outlook: Plenty of experience that boosted Naperville Central to another state finals appearance in 2017 returns this spring. The team aims for its fourth straight state trip. The Redhawks finished third in state last season and were 29-6 overall. Leadership comes from seniors Lucas Nervig and Dominic May. "Lucas plays fantastic defense and Dominic is one of the fastest swimmers around which helps the fastbreak offense," coach Bill Salentine said. Junior Kent Emden returns in goal. He is one of four juniors who provides experience to the Redhawks' lineup. "Luke Klein-Collins, Bender Russo and Brad Sanford all come into the season with a lot of polo experience, with all of them playing starting roles for most of last year. Our offense starts with Kent in goal. As soon as we see the other team shooting, we counterattack the other way, knowing Kent will likely stop the shot," Salentine said. Emden was named state player of the year and earned National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All-America honors as a sophomore. The Naperville Central coach said that while he considers Naperville Central a counterattack/fastbreak team, if an opponent can keep up with the Redhawks' speed, he considers his team good enough to play a frontcourt offense.
Metea Valley enjoyed its best season in school history in 2017, advancing to a sectional semifinal and finishing 21-10-1. Fortunately for the Mustangs, most who made last season possible return. Junior Colin Szezseny finished as top goal scorer in 2017 with 83 goals and 25 steals. "Colin's biggest asset would be his ability to gain position in hole set and keep it. He's extremely motivated," coach Adam Zankowski said. Plenty of depth is back on offense, including junior Tyler Flanders, senior Andrew Eber, senior Ashton Howser, junior Brady Erdman and junior Raphael Kosta. Senior Jordan Brosius was tough defensively with 17 steals. Flanders was named all-sectional. "Returning players are expected to play a smart, tough defense and make fast offensive decisions to control the game their way," Zankowski said. "With a tougher game schedule than years past, for this year to be a success the team will need to continue playing tough and together, keeping strong communication evident. They will need to take quick actions both offensively and defensively, staying aware of their surroundings and taking risks."
Many of the players responsible for Naperville North's 23-10 record and sectional final appearance have moved on. However, the Huskies are traditionally an area power and area powers find replacements. "We will play a strong team game. Our group communicates well and works together as a unit. Additionally, there are a lot of younger players looking to step up into new roles," coach Martin Bell said. Top returners are senior Calvin Chow, juniors Chase McClure and Kyle Wright and sophomores Riley Thompson and Jack Tarantino. The Huskies will also be looking to senior Manta Treciokas and juniors Ben Lovick and Liam Mendrys. "We need to make our conditioning and team focus the important aspects. Additionally, if we can focus on our power play opportunities, we should do well."
Anytime a new coach comes to a team, there is a period of adjustment. Neuqua Valley coach Chad Ganden, entering his second season leading the Wildcats, said the Wildcats made excellent strides regarding that. He is optimistic Neuqua can improve upon last spring's 13-16-1 record and sectional quarterfinal appearance. "I think we're more cohesive. I am a lot more used to the boys. They know me better and I know them a lot better," he said. "They're working together as a team and that's very important." Neuqua's second-leading scorer returns in junior Matt Townsend and Ganden said Townsend is an experienced player, who like many, gets as much playing time as he can in the off-season. Townsend was an all-sectional pick. Junior Jack Hiss brings speed to the team and like others, a strong dedication to the squad. Sophomore goalie Allen Rosenberg was on the JV last year but saw varsity play.
It was another big season for the York Dukes in 2017. The team finished 24-7-2, reaching a sectional final. Many of the players responsible for that success are gone, but coach Brian Drumm is optimistic that those lineup holes can be filled and the team continues its success. Junior attacker Isaac Marlott, who scored 46 goals last season, is back as are senior center defender Simon DeGrace and senior goalie Gary Derwin. "We need players to step into new roles. We lost four out of our top five scorers from last year, so there are a number of new spots that certain players will have to adjust to. The good news is that they are eager to do so," Drumm said. One thing different from last season is York's improved quickness. "We are faster than we were last year, so we are going to organize our defenses in ways to use our speed," the York coach said.
As the Waubonsie Valley Warriors get the 2018 season under way, coach Mike McWhirter likes the capabilities of the Warriors. The team aims to surpass last year's 8-16-1 record and first-round sectional appearance. "We have a large group of seniors. We have leadership and we have a big group of juniors that were on JV last year to replace the seniors we lost. The people returning know the routine and practice has been moving smoothly," he said. Many high school swimmers play on their school's water polo team and Waubonsie is no exception. "We have a very large group that are swimmers. We will be very fast in the water. But we still need to play our game fundamentally sound and strong," McWhirter said. The Waubonsie coach thinks are senior team captain Quentin Tiscareno, senior team captain Mason Rebie and junior Ryan Ruhde are crucial to the team's success. "I think we'll come out strong and hopefully finish stronger," McWhirter said.
Coach Christy Brodell speaks highly of Hinsdale Central's defense and teamwork. The Red Devils want to improve upon last season's 12-19-2 final record and sectional quarterfinal berth. Pacing Hinsdale Central will be seniors Scottie Spinazola, Duncan Ferguson and juniors Cade Griffith, Zach Griffith, Rhys Tallentire, Kevin Jay and Brian McManus. "We have senior leadership, committed and motivated players and strong goalies," Brodell said. "We'll need to work together as a team with a strong, unstoppable defense."
Hinsdale South had an advantage that teams would always like to have. The Hornets have young, experienced players returning to build upon last season's sectional quarterfinal appearance and 12-17 overall record. The Hornets will especially be looking to senior Kyle Brennan, junior Patrick Savage and sophomore Tommy Matulis to lead the way. "We have a relatively young squad this year with a lot of experience. Their speed and strength should be a key factor in any success we have this season," coach Beth Walker said. "We also need to be strong defensively this year in order to succeed."