Lacrosse: District 214 schools geared up for historic first season
The big headline outside of boys and girls high school lacrosse teams returning to action after a year off due to the pandemic is that the six High School District 214 schools (Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove, Hersey, Prospect, Wheeling) added boys and girls lacrosse with two levels for each gender at each school.
"That's 24 total teams in one year. Amazing," Buffalo Grove girls coach Scott Russell said.
Russell pointed out the district provided all the equipment needed, "to assure equitable footing for all athletes at all six schools," he said.
Equipment, Russell explained, means the use of the main stadium for boys and girls games and practices, pads, helmets and gloves (boys only), goggles (girls only), practice jerseys, home and away jerseys, goalie gear, balls, practice goals, game goals, new lines for girls and boys (different) on the field, netting to keep balls off the track, officials and coaches.
"It's a significant commitment," Russell underscored.
Mid-Suburban League East Division play is planned for this season with each team playing the other five league schools twice. Russell's BG program is planning on a JV and varsity with around 40 total girls, led by four seniors.
"While we do have a few players with experience, we are a young and largely inexperienced team with a steep learning curve that makes every day an exciting opportunity to learn about a new aspect of the game for the first time," he said. "Watching the growth in all players every day has been an amazing experience."
So which D214 team recorded the first win? The honors go to Prospect's boys, who came from behind to down Hoffman Estates 9-8 after trailing 3-1, 5-3 and 7-5.
"The boys show up each day for wall ball and there have been many nights where there are boys who stay late to work on their shot and put in the extra reps," Prospect coach Joe Battaglia said. "They are all so hungry out there in practice and on the field."
Attacker Nick Lobacz had 4 goals in the team's first two games, so did John Peterson, including a hat trick in one game. Sebastian Wildhart had 3 goals in 2 games. "Nick and Sebastian's leadership on our offense has been immeasurable," Battaglia said. "Players look up to their style of play and lacrosse IQ."
Schaumburg girls update:
Veteran coach Jake Hughes' team was off to a 3-0 start with Hena Koeberl (11 goals, 2 assists) and Sydney Centeno (10 goals, 2 assists) leading the way. "They have come out blazing as leaders both statistically and defensively where stats don't always show the little things they are doing really well," Hughes said. Hughes pointed out the Saxons have long struggled with draw controls, a trend that he is happy to report is turning. Centeno has 23 DCs through the first three games with Emma Raupp and Nicole Lafranere combining for 13. "DCs equal possessions, which equal scoring opportunities," said Hughes whose team was just north of 70% on that front to start the season.
Schaumburg boys update:
Junior goalie Kevin McIntyre recorded double-digit saves in each of the Saxons' contests so far. Coach Kyle Wagner also cited strong play from senior midfielder and captain Tyler Sarna and junior long stick midfielder Connor Quill, who has been quite adept in the groundball department thus far.
St. Viator boys update:
Twenty-two of the Lions' 33 varsity players played spring football. "Our boys were playing two of the most physical sports close to seven days a week," Viator coach Patrick Gaeger said. "We are so proud of the way these young men prioritized their schedules to accommodate their commitment to both teams." Gaeger has 8 sophomores and 1 freshman on the varsity this season.
Hoffman Estates girls update:
Senior captains Diana Rami (midfield), Liz Guerrero (goalie) and Jazmin Garcia (defender) are leading the way for the Hawks out of the gates. "These three girls are fierce competitors who have led us throughout this pandemic," coach Eric Gdowski said. "I always say, 'On bad teams no one leads, on good teams the coaches lead, and on great teams the players lead,' and these girls have stepped up and led us during these hard times."
Conant boys update:
Sophomore attack Charlie Bittner had 10 goals and 5 assists in the early going for the Cougars, while senior attack Kevin Johnson had 5 goals and 7 assists. Through the early part of the week, Conant had 9 players with multiple goals. "This shows that each player who touches the ball is a threat to score," Conant coach Nico Vega said.
Buffalo Grove boys update:
Ty Nagy scored the first goal in the program's brief history. Coach Ray Kincaid also is high on Tommy Dierbach and Will Genthner. "Tommy is accepting the leadership role well and helping mold our defense," he said. "Will has played every position we have asked of him and is leading our midfielders."
Elk Grove girls update:
The Grenadiers are prepping for their first-ever game on May 6. In the lead-up to that contest, coach Nina Cavender has been thrilled with the likes of Abby Sprenger and Jaylynn Feliciano for their skill level and speed, while Reyna Bibian and Cate Carpenter will headline the defense in front of goalies Quinn Pemberton and Stephanie Hultgren.
St. Viator girls update:
The Lions were 2-0 to start, including a 13-2 win over Stevenson. Coach Suzanne Rich noted senior Serafina DeMunno (Northwestern recruit) continues to cause turnovers and score goals, while senior CiCi Roney (Lewis University) has been huge on defense and is racking up draw controls and groundballs.
Fremd girls update:
Junior Rose DeVooght has scored or assisted on 13 Fremd goals so far this season (covering a 2-game span) and freshman Nina Gray is at 10 in that department. Junior goalie Ava Tzsoifas has at least 5 saves in every game.
Hoffman Estates boys update:
Junior Kylar Pierce is averaging 4 goals a game (16 total). "He's been the catalyst on our offense, but what impresses me the most is his ability to get others involved," coach Dan Canace said.
Palatine boys update:
Rand Paddack, one of the top lacrosse goalies in the state, coach Chris Gantz noted, recently finished the Pirates' football season as one of the top MSL linebackers, "while grueling through the overlapping schedules to begin finishing out his high school career successfully in cage," Gantz added. Paddack is headed to Division I Bryant University. Senior Brady Foote also has been key with his acumen on faceoffs and athleticism as an impactful part of the Palatine offense, Gantz said.