Boys soccer: Scouting Cook and Lake County

It's that time of the year when everyone starts with a clean slate, and anything seems possible, for at least a few weeks.

Soccer is back for 2023, so let's take a look at the teams in the area, and what to expect from them.



Coach: Scott Steib (25th season).

Last year: 11-8-4, 5-4-2 (3rd, MSL West).

Top returning players: Seniors Logan Cidulka (D), Mattie Vitale (MF), Daniel Gawronski (MF), Philip Jackowski (F), Kian Cullen (F), Charlie Field (GK), Andy Sfondilis (MF-D); juniors Nico Hausser (D), Pat Tabb (MF).

New faces to watch: Junior Brian Mazgaj (MF); sophomore Jack Ball (D).

Outlook: The Broncos narrowly missed out on several contests a year ago with the club losing six one-goal games, including its regional final against Waukegan. "We lost a substantial amount of players to graduation, but I have a good feeling about this group, and we're hoping to compete for the top spot in the MSL West," says Steib, who is three wins away from 400 career victories. The Broncos have a solid back line in place, led by Logan Cidulka, and a terrific defensive midfielder in Mattie Vitale.


Coach: Jason Franco (16th season).

Last year: 20-5-1, 8-3-0 (2nd, MSL West, regional champs).

Top returning players: Seniors Braden Hauser (D-F), Bobby Lazarov (F), Sai Patel (MF), Oliver Wozny (D); junior Krystian Niziolek (F).

New faces to watch: Senior Ukyo Takahashi (D); junior Ibuki Takahashi (MF); sophomore Sebastian Palacios (F).

Outlook: The Cougars led the MSL with 20 overall victories last fall, led by all-area captain Carson Belcher (16 goals), and his dynamic all-state teammate Krystian Niziolek (17 goals) who returns this fall. "Our schedule again will be challenging, but if we can stay healthy, and figure things out defensively, I like our chances to compete at the top of the conference, and hopefully make a deep playoff run," says Franco, who welcomes two players from club to go along with Hauser, Lazarov, and Patel whom he says have made big strides during the offseason.


Coach: Steve Keller (26th season).

Last year: 14-7-2, 9-2-0 (1st, MSL West, MSL, regional champions).

Top returning players: Senior Bennett Ash (GK), Eric Mihaj (MF); juniors Kyle Grasse (MF), Nate Schmeling (F); sophomore Stefan Smolak (MF).

New faces to watch: Freshmen Jose Hernandez (F).

Outlook: The Vikings' march to their league-best 10th MSL title was accomplished, in part, to a magnificent roster, and defensive efficiency, and intensity which stood until eventual 3A third place Stevenson ended the Fremd run in an overtime sectional thriller. Steve Keller's club lost 20 seniors, 10 of which were starters, including his all-state keeper, Robby Remian. "We'll look to reload after our graduation losses. We'll be young, and inexperienced, but look to compete for a MSL title," says Keller.


Coach: Sean Armstrong (6th season).

Last year: 5-13-2, 2-8-1 (6th, MSL West).

Top returning players: Seniors Daniel Cabrera (D), Carlos Cotonieto (MF), Angel Hernandez (MF), David Balase-Stribling (MF-F), Jan Stefanczyk (MF), Carson Troupe (D); juniors Gio Hernandez (MF), Chris Palmer (MF), Amer Sabic (D).

New faces to watch: Junior Aeddan Ledesma (F); sophomores Henry Henning (MF), Oziel Morales (MF), Derek Navarro (MF), Luis Rangel (MF).

Outlook: Sean Armstrong admits his 2022 club struggled with consistency, and lacked the necessary leadership in order to take charge. Not so this fall. "This is a talented and driven team that is looking to establish a legacy, and to restore Hawks soccer to a prominent position in the MSL," begins Armstrong. "We had a successful offseason, so we will enter this year in better condition, stronger, and more experienced than in my previous five years as head coach."


Coach: Aaron Morris (2nd season).

Last year: 10-9-2, 5-5-1 (4th, MSL West).

Top returning players: Seniors Andrew Kania (MF), Jordan Mok (D), Karol Noga (F), Damien Drzewiecki (D), Karen Toor (D).

New faces to watch: Juniors Jerry Afonrinwo (MF), Alex Ganji (GK); sophomore Sebastian Lopez (F).

Outlook: There's talk around the league that it will be Conant and Palatine as the two sides to keep an eye on this fall. "We have high expectations for this group (which) is a close knit bunch. (They) have shown to be very competitive in training, organized, dynamic, and having the type of leadership needed in order to have us go out and represent our school, and the community at a high level," offered Morris. Andrew Kania and Karol Noga have the potential to be a top-flight duo, with Jordan Mok providing first rate play along the back line for the Pirates.


Coach: Eric Sorby (7th season).

Last year: 4-11-3, 2-7-2 (5th, MSL West).

Top returning players: Seniors Ben Lainson (MF), Andrei Rotaru (MF), Damon Hibbard (F); juniors Brady Phelps (MF).

New faces to watch: Senior Gabe Silva (MF); junior Kristian Vladimirov (D).

Outlook: The Saxons look to make their way up the league table with a senior heavy, strong midfield unit that looks to be active, hard working, and able to create plenty of chances. "This team has set high standards for themselves, and have built up some good chemistry among themselves. So we plan to be highly competitive in each game, with the ability to surprise some teams this season," says Eric Sorby.


Coach: Darren Llewellyn (6th season).

Last year: 8-8-4, 6-4-1 (3rd, MSL East)

Top returning players: Seniors Jorge Hernandez (M-MF), Dennis Likhovid (MF), Arian Garcia (D), Denys Grabchuk (F), Alejandro Malagon (F).

New faces to watch: Senior Mikita Bialiutsiy (D-MF).

Outlook: After a dreadful start to its season last fall, the Bison came back strong, only to have early losses in the division dash its hopes for a title. Darren Llewellyn is cautiously optimistic, yet excited as he's found his club both mentally and physically ready to show it belongs at, or near the top of the league. "This group has been working hard as a team. (It) has balance of speed, and skill, really likes to compete, have a solid attitude, and are not afraid of working to achieve," opines Llewellyn.


Coach: Dan Klaus (1st season).

Last year: 10-6-3, 8-2-1 (1st, MSL East).

Top returning players: Seniors Jared Aguirre (D), Angel Aparicio (D), Chris Aparicio (D), Kacper Chlopek (D), Adam Kingery (F), Kacper Kubala (MF), Gianluca Lopez (D), Jonny Monjaraz (F), Aaron Vazquez (D); junior Armando Limon (MF).

New faces to watch: Senior Daniel Piwowarski (GK).

Outlook: New Grens coach Dan Klaus is no stranger to the program as his return marks his 35th year combined in both programs. That includes the girls during its glory years of 2000-2002 when he, along with Tony Kees lifted three consecutive league trophies. "I am thrilled to be back, and especially with this group, which has something to build from last year, yet knows it will take plenty of hard work to enjoy the success it had a year ago, and even more," says Klaus. The Grens finished strong to claim its second division title ever, with Aaron Vasquez, who set the standard of excellence, one of several returning from its 2002 championship club.


Coach: Mike Rusniak (6th season).

Last year: 9-8-1, 7-4-1 (2nd, MSL East).

Top returning players: Seniors Joey Casey (D), Bart Ziomek (MF); juniors Ray Reyes (F), Adrian Smakowski (GK).

New faces to watch: Senior Mateo Pesantes (MF); junior Kacper Lechowicz (F); freshmen Jonathan Antoniou (MF).

Outlook: Despite the loss of its all-state, MSL East POY, Charlie Shiffman, who was one of the best ball-winners in the area, Mike Rusniak believes his club has the pieces in place to be right there in the end in the division race. "We have a midfield that is very cohesive as a group, and consistently has a high work rate, so if we can capitalize on our scoring opportunities, and play within our strengths, there's no reason why we cannot contend for the division, and MSL title," said Rusniak.


Coach: Mike Andrews (8th season).

Last year: 3-14-2, 2-8-1 (5th, MSL East).

Top returning players: Seniors Dimitriy Hutnyk (MF-F), Robert Morys (MF-D); Adam Toporkiewicz (F); junior Michael Casaletto (F).

New faces to watch: Senior Daniel Derengowski (GK), Gio Siviero (F); junior Hayden Hoelting (MF); sophomore Riquelme Huezo (D-MF).

Outlook: The Knights never recovered from an 0-4-0 start en route to a 14-loss season, including eight defeats in league play. "Our returning players are determined to leave last season behind, and make a real run for the MSL East title, and right from the start, the guys have been working hard to cultivate a winning mentality," says Mike Andrews. "We're looking to maintain the mental fortitude to make good decisions for 80 minutes - with no mental lapses, or the surrendering momentum."


Coach: Brett Olson (7th season).

Last year: 10-8-2, 6-5-1 (4th, MSL East).

Top returning players: Seniors Alex Chlopek (D), Brian Diaz (MF); juniors Christian Jablonski (D), Alex Kociubinski (MF-F), Kalvin Lagunas (MF), Marceli Okonski (GK).

New faces to watch: Seniors Cristian Sanchez (D-MF), Edward Ramirez (F-MF-D); juniors Rolando Carillo (D), Erik Macias Rubio (MF-D); freshmen Dashel Lockley (MF).

Outlook: Quality along the back is key to success, particularly in the MSL, and that is where the Mustangs are the strongest right now. "Our defense with (Alex) Chopek, and Christian (Jablonski) and Marceli Okonski, just an exceptional keeper should keep us in every game. And our ultimate success will depend on our ability to create, then put away our chances when they come," admits Olson, who does a terrific job in bringing the program back, and near the top half of the league the last few seasons.


Coach: Kevin Lennon (8th season).

Last year: 2-11-3, 1-9-1 (6th MSL East).

Top returning players: Senior Rafael Aguilera (D); juniors Adan Castillo (MF), Roger Cisneros (MF), Damian Feraru (D-MF).

New faces to watch: Junior Arthur Pastuszka (MF-F).

Outlook: After a couple of tough years, the Wildcats look to get back in thick of things with seven returning starters, a strong junior class, and its entire back line, with Rafael Aguilera and Damian Feraru leading the way. "We've struggled to get results for the last three years, but those two will help keep us organized along the back, where we'll look to build our attack (from) and connect to our skilled, and dynamic midfielders, Roger Cisneros, and Adan Carillo," says Lennon.


Coach: Mark Valintis (17th season).

Last year: 14-5-4, 4-2-0 (T2, WSC Gold).

Top returning players: Seniors Ariel Diaz (MF), Oliver Salgado (MF); juniors Daniel Llanos (GK), Fabian Rodriguez (D).

New faces to watch: Juniors Christian Esquival (MF), Brylee Molina (MF), David Tracewicz (D).

Outlook: Looking to close the gap on perennial state and league power Morton, the Eagles look to have plenty of pieces in place to do so this fall. "We will have a deep team, with several versatile players that will help us match up well against our opponents," opines Mark Valintis, who once again has assembled a challenging nonconference schedule for his club. "Like so many others, we lack that true scoring threat, but we have some guys coming up who have done well at the lower levels, and will now have the opportunity with our varsity."


Coach: Jeff Bishop (7th season).

Last year: 6-9-2, 4-1-0 (2nd, CSL North).

Top returning players: Seniors Chris Domian (MF); juniors Victor Cebula (D), Anar Munkhtur (D), Yousif Atia (MF), Ethan Robles (F).

New faces to watch: Sophomore Paul Plancia (MF); freshman Roman Camargo (MF).

Outlook: The Demons made a valiant run at the CSL-North crown, only to fall short to league champion Vernon Hills following a heartbreaking loss to the Cougars. "We want to build off last year, and compete once again for the title. And with plenty of returning players on both sides of the ball, we will have a more balanced team - capable of scoring goals, and moving the ball quickly to help create chances for ourselves," says Jeff Bishop.


Coach: Dan States (32nd season).

Last year: 11-6-2, 2-2-1 (T3, CSL South).

Top returning players: Seniors Zach Malinsky (MF), Sam Middendorf (D), Cristian Abdala (MF), Nick Milkowski (F), Sebastian Bonifacy (MF-F), Dexter Kelleher (MF).

New faces to watch: Juniors Kosta Loucopoulos (F), Michael Tkaczyk (MF-F); Bartek Galimski (MF), Wyatt Kelleher (D).

Outlook: In New Trier, Evanston and Glenbrook North, the CSL South has become a soccer rich league, and one in which Maine South may have enough to give this trio all it can handle this fall. "We have a solid group of players that has drawn players from different teams in our program, and surrounding soccer clubs, so if we can get them to come together as a unit, particularly in the face of a challenging early season schedule, we can compete with the best in the league," says States, who has a wonderful midfielder duo of Malinsky and Middendorf.


Coach: Eliades Hernandez (1st season).

Last year: 5-11-1, 0-4-1 (6th, CSL North).

Top returning players: Seniors Brian Romero (F), Marcial Mendez (MF); juniors Kacper Wolinski (MF), Yulien Morgado (MF).

New faces to watch: Sophomores Eduardo Vitelo (MF), Diego Leal Sanchez (MF).

Outlook: Longtime assistant Eliades Hernadez takes over for one of the true gentlemen in the sport, Alan Matan, who retired following the 2022-2023 school year. "We're going to just go and play the game to the best of our ability, and look to grow together as a team," says Hernandez, who has a young, but energetic club in his first year in charge.


Coach: Byron DeLeon (3rd season).

Last year: 10-11-0, 4-5-0 (6th, ESCC).

Top returning players: Seniors Gabe Glodz (MF), Michael O'Connor (MF), Reilly Salatino (D), Cristol Carranza (MF), Benson Tsai (MF-F).

New faces to watch: Diego Garcia.

Outlook: The Lions have veterans Glodz, O'Connor, Salatino, and Carranza back to give Byron DeLeon reason to believe his club can get themselves back in position to challenge Benet Academy, St. Patrick, and Notre Dame who have taken control of the ESCC of late. "We have balance, and the boys have been working hard, so we'll look to compete well in our conference, and tournament play ahead of the state series," says DeLeon.



Coach: Maddie Lyon (1st season).

Last year: 0-18-1, 0-8-1 (T7, NLCC).

Top returning players: Senior Spencer Wood (D); juniors Cade Ternes (F-MF), Matt Behrens (MF); sophomore Max Mehring (MF).

New faces to watch: Freshmen Matthew Miller (GK).

Outlook: Sequoits new coach Maddie Lyon will look to turn things around this fall following a winless 2022 campaign. "We are a very young team, with a lot of development to happen (but) the boys are excited, so we'll look to find some success, and keep the energy high all throughout the season," says Lyon, who will lean on her all-sectional junior, Cade Ternes.


Coach: Rob Etheridge (2nd season).

Last year: 8-10-1, 4-4-0 (4th, ESCC).

Top returning players: Rolando Colin, Roman Lynch, Max Mazzocco.

New races to watch: Imanol Cervantes, Edeson Maradiaga, Diego Pedroza.

Outlook: Among the Corsairs' graduation losses are the all-sectional duo of Augustine Lombardo and Sandro Pineda, as well as all-ESCC, Matthew Gonzales, who were key figures along the back line. "Obviously, we need to find a few players in the back, but our strength is on the other side of the ball where we've seen the guys create a lot of opportunities in training, which we hope will see us win 10 or more games this season," says Etheridge.


Coach: Benjamin Burnet (1st season).

Last year: 10-9-1, 3-3-1 (T4, NLCC).

Top returning players: Seniors Finn Joiner (D), Fred Kunzer (F), Alexis DeLuca (GK), Leobardo Mendoza (D), Miguel Nunez (F), Sebastian Gonzalez (MF), Martin Villabos (F).

New faces to watch: None at the time of press.

Outlook: Like his counterpart at Antioch, Benjamin Burnet now is in charge of both programs after taking over for Andy Flaker. "We have several new faces from freshmen to juniors, who have earned their way onto the varsity roster, and have shown great promise," says Brunet, who likes the leadership, creativity, and defending he's seen thus far.


Coach: Keith Andersson (6th season).

Last year: 19-2-3, 5-1-1 (3rd, NLCC, 2A state third place).

Top returning players: Senior Uriel Garcia Perez (GK), Mitchell Fein (MF), Nick Molochnikov (MF); junior Anderson Chevrier (D).

New faces to watch: Junior Jaziel Alonso (MF); sophomore Cory Hayson (D).

Outlook: Central fans have been treated to a remarkable two-year run that saw the Rams bring home 2A state trophies, thanks in part to a star-studded roster, that may have lost some of its luster due to graduation, but still have plenty in reserve to help make another run at postseason glory. "We have a returning All-State keeper who is on the All-American watch list (Uriel Garcia Perez, 15 shutouts, 0.59), plus a strong midfield, and a large group of returning players, so we have several goals we'll look to reach," says Andersson.


Coach: Adam DeCaluwe (18th season).

Last year: 3-13-2, 0, 2-4-1 (6th, NLCC).

Top returning players: Seniors Chris Fabela (F-MF), Will Verber (MF), Caden Moran (D), Alonso Morales (D); junior Sam Soriano (MF),

New faces to watch: Sophomores Damian Sereno (MF), Javy Villegas (MF).

Outlook: North was hit hard a year ago due to injuries, stretching an already young team to its limits, but there was a silver lining to it all according to Adam DeCaluwe.

"The lessons we learned last year will certainly help us this season, and with some technically skilled players, a really good group of guys who work hard, who want to improve, we just need to go out and play with confidence," says DeCaluwe, who has all-sectional senior, Chris Fabela, to rely on.


Coach: Kevin Kullby (19th season).

Last year: 4-14-2, 4-3-1 (4th, NLCC).

Top returning players: Seniors Drew Chamernik (MF), Peter Sanchez (F).

New faces to watch: Sophomore Jorge Castillo (MF).

Outlook: The Eagles lost all three of their 2022 all-NLCC players graduate, but do return Peter Sanchez (6 goals) and Drew Chamernik, who will look to press the attack in the middle. "This team gets along with each other really well, and hopefully that translates into good teamwork, and keeps us in the game with a chance to win," says Kevin Kullby.


Coach: Hugo Tellez (14th season).

Last year: 11-4-3, 6-1-0 (1st, NLCC).

Top returning players: Seniors Oscar Martinez (MF), Luis Salinas (D); juniors Sebastian Herrera (D).

New faces to watch: Junior Yahir Hernandez (F); freshmen Gio Ayala (GK), Alex Corona (D).

Outlook: The NLCC champions claimed a league-high seven all-conference players, including GK of the year, Jerry Perez, and POY, Oscar Martinez, who is just one of the aforementioned seven back this fall. The Panthers play fast, quick, entertaining possession soccer, and would outscore its opponents 49-15 a year ago. Despite the heavy graduation losses, Hugo Tellez remains very optimistic about the Panthers' chances in 2023. "We have a fast, talented group, mixed with young and hungry veterans, so our expectations are to win the conference, and more."


Coach: Tim Miller (6th season).

Last year: 12-4-3, 6-1-2 (2nd, NLCC, regional champs).

Top returning players: Senior Karsten Ternes (MF), Francisco Cabral (MF); juniors Freddy Barnshaw (F).

New faces to watch: Senior JJ Ortiz (F); junior Sam Jurczyk (F).

Outlook: The Bulldogs claimed its first regional crown in ages, and with eight starters back, Tim Miller's men have the chance to earn another trophy to its collection. "We've added a number of players who will contribute immediately, and if we stay hungry, and enjoy good health, we'll be able to compete for a NLCC, regional, and sectional title," says Miller. All-Area senior, and captain, Karsten Ternes will run the show in the middle of the park alongside Francisco Cabral.


Coach: Rob Parry (18th year).

Last year: 5-11-2, 1-8-1 (8th, NSC).

Top returning players: Seniors Austin Okada (D), Charlie Walsh (GK), Dominick Ziaja (D); juniors Tyler Bernstein (MF), Boden Rupprecht (MF).

New faces to watch: Junior Tito Ford (F); sophomore George Thomas (F).

Outlook: The Scouts lost its all-state forward, and USC Scholar All-American, Jack Rice (playing at Denison University) so Rob Parry will lean heavily on five veterans back, particularly during the early going. "Our concern is we'll be very young, and inexperienced, but we are very athletic. And the hope is we get off to a good start, take a few lumps in the NSC to help ready us for a nice run in the 2A playoffs," says Parry.


Coach: Mike Schmitz (17th season).

Last year: 12-5-3, 4-2-1 (2nd, NSC, regional champs).

Top returning players: Seniors Fil Kanski (GK), Braedon Smith (MF), Oskar Ponikarczyk (F).

New faces to watch: Senior Ethan Goldberg (F).

Outlook: The Bears would enjoy a marvelous season a year ago with a talented club that helped produce its first regional title since 2018, and a second-place finish in the NSC behind state power Stevenson. "We have a nice mix of experience, and new players, with 12 back from last year, who will be leaned on heavily to set the example of hard work, and perseverance," offers Mike Schmitz, who will need to find a way to replace Ian Ferguson (22 goals) who was twice named all-state, along with NSC offensive player of the year, and is now playing at Bradley University.


Coach: Kevin Thunholm (7th season).

Last year: 7-9-4, 3-2-2 (T3, NSC).

Top returning players: Seniors Oliver Allen (MF), Mateo Portillo (F-MF); juniors Nick Snow (D), Noah Finnema (F), Henry Bownas (D).

New faces to watch: Juniors Max Doshi (F), Matthew Underson (MF).

Outlook: You would be hard pressed to find two players who meant so much to their club than the all-area pair of Andrew Phillips and Alek LaRoi, who both were key figures on the under-18 national championship Libertyville FC 74 club team, and have since moved on to college. "We lost some very good players. We'll be young, but we have a strong core. The boys love playing together, so I know we'll always be competitive," says Thunholm, who offers defense will be the 'Cats strong suit.


Coach: Sebastian Falinski (4th season).

Last year: 9-6-7, 3-2-2 (T3, NSC).

Top returning players: Seniors Frankie Jimenez (MF-F), Adrian Rosiles (D), Oscar Hernandez (MF-F), Kevin Vogel (F); juniors Kaiden Mata (MF), Diego Sanchez (F-MF).

New faces to watch: Juniors Lukas McCaulou (D-F), Chris Rivas (MF); sophomores Leonardo Rendon (D), Brandon Reyes (D).

Outlook: Stevenson flew the flag once again for this soccer rich conference to follow in the footsteps of Libertyville and Warren, and there is reason to believe that Mundelein may have the pieces in place to make a strong run for the crown in what appears to be a wide open race in the NSC. "We will have our hands full in a loaded NSC, despite having at least one experienced veteran at every position group. But I expect us to compete with every team we face, and get out to a better start than last year," says Falinski, who returns eight - four of which were starters, including Frankie Jimenez, who is already on the radar of at least four colleges in advance of his senior year.


Coach: PepeJon Chavez (4th season).

Last year: 22-1-3, 6-0-1, (NSC champs, 3A state third place).

Top returning players: Seniors Alex Huelsman (D), Shu Aoyagi (MF), Alex Xie (MF), Sebastian Pop (MF), Will Boshold (GK).

New faces to watch: Juniors Ben Inthisone (MF), Jack Bacher (F), Chris Konieczny (F).

Outlook: The Patriots carried the NSC flag with pride into the final weekend of the season where PepeJon Chavez's men brought home the 3A third place trophy, just the second ever in program history. "It was a remarkable year for us, and one that our young men should be proud of. This year, despite big losses along the back and in the middle, we're excited to have several returning players who understand the culture (here), believe in the system of play, and want to get back to state, knowing we'll take it a game at a time," says Chavez, who lost his brilliant center-back, Steven Nyc, named the captain of the 2022 Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team.


Coach: Jason Ahonen (16th season).

Last year: 15-5-2, 3-2-2 (T3, NSC).

Top returning players: Senior Lucas Ahonen (MF), Chris Cowson (MF), Diego Torres (MF).

New faces to watch: Juniors Abraham Castrejon (D), Colton Holmes (GK); sophomores Charlie Crowson (MF), Gunnar Zajac (D).

Outlook: Despite its best efforts, the Blue Devils were unable to overcome two early league losses that dashed the hopes of a league title one year after lifting the NSC trophy. Jason Ahonen lost five quality players to graduation, including NIU-recruit Miguel Garcia, and four other all-NSC stars, but will build around all-sectional midfielder Lucas Ahonen. "We have a nice blend of veterans, and young players that we feel can compete, represent the community proudly, and we will rely on our seniors to lead the way for our newcomers, while being a team that prides itself on valuing the ball, and playing as one unit," Ahonen said.


Coach: Mike McCaulou (21st season).

Last year: 13-8-2, 4-0-1 (1st, CSL North, regional champs).

Top returning players: Senior Nikita Stepanov (D); juniors Brandon Grunfeld (GK), Muxe Marhanele (MF), Ocho Finn (MF-D), Manny Botello (F).

New faces to watch: Junior Kyle Magsino (F); sophomore Diego Hernandez (MF).

Outlook: Fresh off its league and postseason glory of a year ago, Mike McCaulou and his club from Vernon Hills appear ready to continue the success it enjoyed last fall. "We will be organized, disciplined, and look to be more attack-minded this season, with a little more speed than we've had in recent years," begins McCaulou, who emerged from the CSL North to win its first title since joining the league in 2016. "Our goal is to defend our title, and make a deep run in the playoffs, while playing with heart and pride for the Cougar shield," continued McCaulou.

  Alex Xie is one of the key players back at Stevenson after helping the Patriots take third in the Class 3A state tournament last year. John Starks/
  Grayslake Central goalkeeper Uriel Garcia Perez is one of the best players at his position in the state. Paul Valade/
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