Boys soccer: Team-first attitude key in Dundee-Crown's rebound
Rey Vargas wasn't sure how his Dundee-Crown team would do this fall after going 4-7-1 in the abbreviated spring season.
Now he knows.
"I wasn't sure how we'd do because we had a lot of seniors in the spring season," Vargas said. "I wasn't so worried about talent. I knew the talent was there."
Seniors Ashton Ajroja (11 goals), Juan David Pacheco (10 goals) and Jefferson Leon are also there, and in addition to their abilities to possess on the pitch, they own playoff experience, something that's more rare than previously since there hasn't been postseason boys soccer since 2019.
"We're getting contributions from more than one person," Vargas said. "Our two scoring leaders are so focused on winning that they don't even know how many goals they have. They've really pulled for each other and it's come along nicely."
Junior Alex Martinez leads the team with 9 assists.
Vargas said he likes where the Chargers are heading. That includes Machesney Park (Harlem) on Tuesday to battle Rockford Auburn in a regional semifinal. A win there would set up another game against Jacobs or Larkin for the regional title.
Déjà vu in Batavia?
It's beginning to look a lot like 2018 in Batavia. At least that's what the Bulldogs are hoping for as they host a Class 3A regional and take on Oswego East in a semifinal on Tuesday.
Similar to three years ago, the Bulldogs head into the postseason in dire need of a restart as they've dropped 7 consecutive games, having finished the regular season just 5-12. In 2018, the Bulldogs took a 3-10-4 record into the postseason, but upset Oswego East 1-0 in the semifinal and Lockport in the title game to win a regional championship.
"We have played solid for the last few weeks while not getting the results we were seeking, unfortunately," Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. "We played a tough schedule that has prepared us for the playoffs. All teams start 0-0 so anything can happen."
Since Oswego East is the higher seed and expected to win, the pressure is really on the Wolves.
"Batavia is a well-coached team and a very tough first round draw for a 2-seed team," Wolves coach Steve Szymanski said. "But in our sectional you have to beat great teams and programs to advance."
Fellow area DuKane Conference schools, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North also have their respective postseason openers on Tuesday. The Vikings and North Stars will clash in respective conference rematches.
Geneva is hosting Wheaton North while St. Charles North is heading to Carol Stream to face Glenbard North. Recently on Oct. 5, the Vikings blanked the Falcons 1-0 while the North Stars doubled up the Panthers, 2-1. Meanwhile, the Saints travel to Schaumburg to play Glenbard East.
A new beginning:
Just a few months ago, soccer was looking bleak at Aurora Christian.
"On day two we only had three participants at practice," first-year coach Blake Hughes said. "By the time the first week was over we had 14. We only had 8 good soccer balls."
Today, the Eagles are excited about how far they've come in and a short time while continuing to move forward under Hughes and his assistant coach/brother Kevin Hughes. The Eagles enjoyed a 6-9 season that saw them earn the most wins in school history, score its most goals in a season and earn its highest postseason seed.
"We will be restarting the middle school program to build numbers from within alongside bringing in equipment that gets us on par with other elite teams of the state," Kevin Hughes said. "We are up to the task of planting these seeds and nurturing them to fruition. The road will be long and not always smooth but that's how most journeys are. Eventually, 3-5 years from now, it'll be nice to have this program competing with 2A and 3A teams in addition to being successful in our own class."
One team that could surprise in Class 2A is No. 13 Cary-Grove (5-7-1) in the Deerfield regional. The Trojans would need to upset No. 4 Carmel in Tuesday's semifinal and then either No. 8 Deerfield or No. 12 Lakes in the final.
The Trojans only scored 19 goals this season, but only allowed 21 goals with single-goal losses to Prairie Ridge and Huntley and a win over Dundee-Crown among their notable results.
"We've been playing well," Trojans coach Mark Olson said. "It's now one-and-done so it's either win or go home."
This and that:
The six tie games this fall for St. Charles North (5-3-6) are the most the North Stars have ever had in a single season, breaking the four it had in 2015 and 2017.
West Aurora was undefeated on the road this fall (7-0-3) while Dundee-Crown was perfect at home (7-0) in Carpentersville.
Westminster Christian (12-3-2) went undefeated in the Northeastern Conference (5-0) and outscored its opponents overall this season, 77-21. Junior Nathan Siers, son of head coach David Siers, led the Warriors with 23 goals and 11 assists. The team saw its season come to a close last weekend with a 1-0 loss to Marian Central Catholic.