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Boys soccer: Northwest team previews
By Mike Garofola | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 8/27/2007 6:45 AM

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Mid-Suburban East

Buffalo Grove

Coach: Rick Schoffstall (3rd year), 26-12-7.

Last year: 12-8-2 (4-1-0, 2nd, MSL East).

Key losses: Brian DeSimone (F, all-area, 9 goals, will concentrate on basketball), Dan Lewis (MF, all-area, 7 goals, 8 assists, club soccer), Nick Coleman (MF, all-area), Charlie Buzogany (GK, D), Mike Fanelli (MF), Steve Godawa (F, MF), Jimmy Ouska (D).

Top returnees: Seniors Joey Gasso (D), Paul Clementi (F), Mike McEvoy (GK, 1.00 G.A.A.), Frank Atchison (MF), Kevin Okamoto (D); juniors Ryan Franz (MF), Brian Urban (F).

Newcomers to watch: Senior Brian Justie (MF), Dan Wichman (MF), Danny Linden (MF), Bryan Soderholm (MF), Joe Duda (MF); sophomores Kyle Fiordaliso (D), Greg Betz (MF), Nick Rajner (F).

Outlook: Opportunity to sit on top of the MSL East took a serious hit when premium players DeSimone (basketball) and Lewis (club soccer) elected to concentrate their efforts full-time elsewhere. "Both of those guys are great kids, and we're going to miss them. But I respect their decisions and now we'll go forward without them," says Schoffstall, who still returns 9 seniors, including sweeper (Gasso), who'll anchor the back-line in front of returning GK McEvoy, while the veteran Clementi steps forward to be a much-needed striker. Bison head coach likes the work ethic he sees so far.

Elk Grove

Coach: Joe Bush (3rd year), 12-24-7.

Last year: 4-12-4 (1-4-0, T5, MSL East).

Key losses: Zach Stanke (D), Lukas Borys (F, Harper), Jon Olen (D), Mike Duffy (D), Nico Zlotek (MF, F), Matt Mechnig (MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Billy Hubly (MF, all-area), Anthony Vasquez (F, 6 goals), Jon Manna (F), Joey Randle (MF), Robert Pechacek (D, state qualifier in wrestling); juniors Andy Larson (GK, 4 shutouts), Shawn Jaworsky (D); sophomore Leif Lundgren (MF).

Newcomers to watch: Senior Mike Karwowski (MF); juniors Phil Chen (MF), Luis Rojas (MF); sophomores Jon Pachas (F), Daiki Abe (D).

Outlook: Grens will wait for MRI results (knee) of all-area MF and captain Hubly before declaring their position this fall. "Anytime without Hubly would be a big loss for us, but a lot of our guys have stepped up and appear ready to make a statement this fall," said Bush, who is convinced Sr/F Vasquez is ready to create and dart through to score more often, while super-soph Lundgren is likely to be the most dangerous attacker for this side and among the best in the MSL after a quality rookie year. The Grens' head coach adds this group is all about playing together as a team, something the '06 club struggled with at times.

Hersey

Coach: Darren Llewellyn (2nd year), 15-7-1.

Last year: 15-7-1 (5-0-0, 1st, MSL East), d. Fremd 3-2 (OT) in Soccer Bowl. Lost 3-0 to Warren in LZ super-sectional final.

Key losses: Andreas Laxgang (MF, all-area, UIC), Tim O'Connor (MF, all-area, Illinois), Brad Fansher (MF, F), Blake David (D), Mike Kempf (DMF), Brian Gierman (D), Taylor Kelleher (GK, 7 shutouts, UIC), Dan Diaz (F, Carthage), Bryan Fulton (MF), Myles Wilson (D, MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Kent Busse (D), Mike Mueller (D, MF, Brian Spencer (F).

Newcomers to watch: Senior Gilberto Roman (MF, F); junior Rolando Herrera (MF).

Outlook: Graduation ravaged MSL champs' roster as first 11 from super-sectional match with Warren have moved to new collegiate addresses, as well as key figures who gave then first-year coach Llewellyn important minutes off the bench. "When you see what our roster looks like compared to last season, it's easy for me to say that we are extremely young and inexperienced," says Llewellyn. "But we appear to be hard-working, almost a blue-collar type of team, with a bunch of great kids. They are just going to need a lot of time before they come together." Llewellyn will lean heavily on the senior trio of Busse, Mueller and Spencer, each a major contributor last year.

Prospect

Coach: Kurt Trenkle (2nd year), 11-7-2.

Last year: 11-7-2 (2-3-0, T3, MSL East), lost 1-0 regional final to Stevenson.

Key losses: Pari Pantazopoulos (all-Midwest, all-state, MSL East POY, co-captain all-area team, 51 career goals, playing 2nd division in Cypress), Matt Sarantopoulos (D, Dominican), JT Brault (D, Carthage), Chris Schuett (D), Taylor Lydon (F). David Madison did not return for senior season to play club soccer.

Top returnees: Seniors Eric VanDivier (GK), Joe Colmone (D), Adam Briggs (MF), Jose Leguer (F).

Newcomers to watch: Seniors Colin Wasiak (MF), Tom Kujawa (F); junior Spencer Kearney (D, MF); sophomore Kyle Mataloni (D, MF).

Outlook: Senior-dominated roster (11) will be missed, especially all-everything Pantazopoulos, who dominated for 80 minutes, while making all those around him better with his desire, determination and will to succeed on both sides of the ball. Decision by all-area MF (Madison) to skip senior season in favor of club soccer will add additional stress to a position already lean on experience. However, the Knights' head coach counters there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

"Eric (VanDivier) gives us strength in goal, as does Joe (Colmone) back to defense after playing in the middle last season. We're also looking for (Jose) Legeur to recapture his scoring touch after putting in 20 as a sophomore," says Trenkle, who will ask 5-6 players to score 5 goals each to help ease the loss of Pantazopoulos, while adding balance to the attack.

Rolling Meadows

Coach: Peter Mikulak (5th year).

Last year: 5-12-3 (1-4-0, T5, MSL East). Lost regional final 2-1 to Elgin Larkin.

Key losses: Andy Ryan (GK, 4-year starter, 2-time all-area), Reid Larson (MF), Yovani Flores (F), Andrew Brice (D), Neal Loughery (D), Jesus Tejeda (F, MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Chris Olson (F/MF), Blake Olson (D), Saul Baylon (F).

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Brian Perez (D), JJ McCarthy (MF).

Outlook: Mustangs will struggle in the early going with inexperience, particularly in the back where 4-year star GK (Ryan) and all-time saves leader will need to be somehow replaced, as well as veterans Larson, Brice and Loughery, who provided gritty play for 80 minutes. Senior Chris Olson appears ready to be listed with the best in the area after a quality off-season in his age group with the elite Sockers soccer club, and the inspiration, along with teammate Baylon, to jump-start an attack that found the back of the net on just 11 occasions in '06.

Wheeling

Coach: Ed Uhrik (3rd year), 9-25-6.

Last year: 4-12-4 (2-3-0, T3, MSL East).

Key losses: Rami Qafisher (D, MF, Illinois), Matt Misichko (D, MF, Illinois), Mickey Segura (MF), Tom Morien (D, MF), Adam Kravit (D, MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Danny Casterjon (MF), Yosi Cenobio (D); juniors Joel Del Toro (F), Leo Elizade (MF, 6 goals), David Aranda (D), Josh Rosen (GK), Trevor Rubin (MF), Jesse Astudillo (MF).

Newcomers to watch: Senior Juan Rodriguez (D), Tom Lupa (GK).

Outlook: There can be little doubt what the Wildcats' staff would focus on in training camp after watching the defense implode all too often last season. "Defense!" stated head coach Ed Uhrik. "From front to back, our guys have got to tighten things up on the defensive side if we expect to compete in what looks like a wide-open race in our division." Having top-notch wrestler (Aranda) from get-go should help, as the junior showed his worth at sweeper after a late-season call-up, while teammate (Cenobio) looks more comfortable in his role as stopper. After starting four of this roster as freshmen two years ago and a still young first 11 in '06, Uhrik feels the maturation process will finally come full circle. That and a deeper, more productive bench should help as well. Del Toro, Elizade, Rubin and Astudillo are an offensive-minded quartet that bear watching.

Mid-Suburban West

Barrington

Coach: Scott Steib (9th year), 150-34-18 (210-62-25, career). Lost to Hersey (2-4) in Jacobs regional final.

Last year: 15-5-2 (3-2-0, T2, MSL West).

Key losses: Kyle Zumski (F, MF, 2-year starter, St. Joseph, IN.), J.J. McKillen (MF, Notre Dame), Jimmy Argianis (F, 8 goals, Kansas), Brad Kean (MF, DePauw), Steve Wendler (MF), David Schaeffer (D), Ben Bernardo (GK), Rocco Fridano (F).

Top returnees: Seniors Francesco Furio (F, DH All-Area, 14g, 7 assists), Brian Bernal (D), Ryan Nolan (MF, 8 goals), Cameron Reilly (MF, 6g, 7 assists), Matt Beightol (D), Jack Valentine (MF); juniors Ryan Mangone (MF, D), Tom Unak (GK).

Newcomers to watch: Seniors Jack Deroche (GK), Michael Mehringer (F), Derek Shelton (D), Pat McCool (MF, D), Alex Luedtke (D); juniors Andrew Komnick (MF, D), Ata Ozbay (F); sophomore Will Farrell (D), Tim Rudnicki (D, MF).

Outlook: Depth and talent along the back, a game-breaker up top and a work ethic shown team-wide thus far in training camp has helped ease the concern of Broncos' Steib after his club lost 8 from a 15-win team which began the season at a hearty 12-1-1. "The more I am around this team, the better I feel about how our year may go because we've worked them hard and still come back strong after each session," offered Steib, who has several anxious new faces waiting in the wings to line-up next to veterans Bernal and Beightol on defense. Senior striker Furio emerged to become a top-class finisher, a firebrand of sorts as a player with the ability to carry the Broncos' in times of need. MF duo of Nolan and Reilly are capable and vital in the attack, and will be asked to do so with each match to insure success.

Conant

Coach: Tony Kees (21st year).

Last year: 13-6-2 (3-2-0, T2, MSL West) Regional champion. Lost to Elgin Larkin (2-1, PK's) in sectional semi-finals at Streamwood.

Key losses: Jeff Divito (F, All-Area, 17 goals, Indiana), Tim Marlega (MF, Augustana), Eric Fillingim (MF), Kevin Lyles (MF, D), Ryan Rendino (D).

Top returnees: Seniors Eric Marofske (F, All-State, DH All-Area, 13 goals, 14 assists), Zach Raetzman (F, DH All-Area, 9 goals, 5 assists), Tim KIng (D, all-sectional), Bryan Neubauer (MF), Tony Varnava (D), Brian Stack (MF), Scott Majercik (GK, 6 shutouts); junior Tony Rizzo (D).

Newcomers to watch: Seniors Tim Holmer (MF), Paul Roszyk (D), Mike Marks (F), Kevin Stack (MF), Jimmy Samargis (MF).

Outlook: In this, his 21st and final year as head coach of one of the most respected programs in the state, Cougars head coach Kees views current club as one of the most entertaining he's ever guided. Trio of Marofske, Raetzman and King have the makings of providing some truly sensational play in the attack, as each owns a car-load full of creative gifts to help life this club among all others in the MSL this fall. "We'll be looking to continue in the Conant tradition of playing attacking, sweeping, attractive soccer in 2007, and our top 3 players are capable of providing some very special play along the way," offered Kees. Marofske and Raetzman each possess grace and distribution skills, while ice-cool finishing skill, but it's King, out of the back, who may be the key figure in the Cougars' run as he can do so much on both sides of the ball. Hard-working and unselfish MF will see plenty of touches in 80 minutes, as will the back-line mates alongside King (Varnava-Rizzo), which can forward with the best of them.

Fremd

Coach: Steve Keller (10th year), 135-63-39.

Last year: 13-5-1 (4-1-0, 1st, MSL West). Regional champion. Lost to Stevenson (2-1, PK's) in sectional semi-finals at Palatine.

Key losses: Erik Baker (D, DH All-Area, Marquette), Sean Dolan (D, DH All-Area, Illinois), Charlie Weber (MF, F, Oregon), Logan Guinaugh, F, Illinois), Todor Stefanov (MF, Harper).

Top returnees: Seniors Rich Podjasek (GK, 4.5 shutouts), Michael Ballschmiede (D), Cory Degrave (D), Victor Canestrini MF), Eric Klen (D), Joe Derkits (D); juniors Matt Leonard (MF), Sam Dillon (MF).

Newcomers to Watch: Seniors Alex Tobutt (F), Sam Callahan (MF), Alex Cordell (MF); sophomore Michael Heika (MF, F); freshmen Lorenzo Savino (F).

Outlook: Vikings lost plenty, especially All-Area bookends along back (Baker-Dolan), however coaching staff used several sophomore &juniors in first 11 or off bench to provide base in which to build off of and to continue playing physical, defensive minded matches and a direct style in the attacking end. "There's a lot of chemistry, so far, and a real desire to play together as team," says Keller, "and we're looking for that to continue." Demanding non-conference schedule will help later as Keller finds his rotation, but there will be little doubt the achievements of Podjasek, Leonard, Ballschiede and Degrave will not go unnoticed as the Vikings find themselves on the list of favorites in both the division and MSL.

Hoffman Estates

Coach: Matt Sriver (4th year), 21-36-8.

Last year: 7-10-2 (1-4-0, T5, MSL West).

Key Losses: Adam Lukowicz (MF, DH All-Area, Illinois) Karl Tooren (F, 2-time DH All-Area, Elmhurst College), Nick Pahl (GK, 5 shutouts, Illinois State), Joey Veronico (MF, Eastern Illinois), Jimmy Day (D, Harper).

Top Returnees: Seniors Brian Neu (D), Edgar Sanchez (F), Kyle Patterson (MF); junior Brian Dussard (D); sophomores Brad Powszok (F), Pat Scully (D), Reona Oishi (MF),

Newcomers to watch: Junior Omar Sanchez (MF, F); sophomores Mike Martel, Ryan Wiever; freshmen Sishuh Zerihun (F).

Outlook: How to replace highly underrated MF (Lukowicz) and Tooren up top is the first bit of business Hawks' must address as the pair provided Sriver with the type of leadership, energy and drive for 80 minutes every coach desires. "We're still very young this season, and that's where our co-captains Adam and Karl would both be so valuable to have around," says Sriver,who feels senior (Neu) is ready to assume that same role. "Brian leads by example, and he's going to give us great value because of that." Despite the Hawks' youth movement, there's still a generous amount of talent to build from, including Edgar Sanchez (9 goals) who should return soon after some knee troubles, as well as the speedy duo of both Patterson and Powszok to augment the arrival of the freshmen (Zerihun) whom Sriver is ready to install in the first-11 as a striker with goal-scoring potential.

Palatine

Coach: Willie Filian (17th year), 220-100-41.

Last year: 8-10-4 (1-4-0, T5, MSL West).

Key losses: Theo Tabakis (F), Umesh Kaushal (D, MF), Phil Conley (D), Chris Conklin (D),

Top Returnees: Seniors Ben Calvopina (GK, 6 shutouts), Sean McLoraine (D), Haris Haskovic (F, 17 goals), John Castellano (MF).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomore Matt Marturano (F).

Outlook: Pirates possess plenty of returning players to put them on the cusp of challenging with Conant, Fremd and Schaumburg in the wild MSL West this fall. The weight of expectations my fall heavily in the first-half of the season on the shoulders on 4 seniors (McLoraine, Castellano, Calvopina and Haskovic) in addition to an emerging sophomore (Marturano) who, paired with Haskovic (31 goals in 2 years) will unnerve most backlines.

"We are going to have to tinker a little bit with our starting line-up and what will eventually be our roster for the season, so those (5) guys are going to have to step forward and show the way with their play and leadership," says Filian. Pirates will be strong were it counts in this sport with steady (Castellano) in the center of the midfield, the acrobatic Calvopina in goal for his third season, and all-conference sweeper McLoraine holding things together in the back almost effortlessly.

Schaumburg

Coach: Hamid Mehreioskouei (4th year), 29-27-4.

Last year: 11-7-0 (3-2-0, T2, MSL West).

Key losses: Ephraim Beard (MF, All-State, co-captain, DH All-area, Bradley), Zach Moy (MF), Jim Ogozalek (D), Brad Buniak (GK).

Top returnees: Seniors Tim Piotrowski (F, 9g, 5 assists), Jordan Sandburg (GK), James Rion (D), Jose Reyna (MF), Dan Weiss (MF), Wes Hollis (MF), Alex Christy (D); junior Josh Beard (F).

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Josh Halter (MF); sophomores Jimmy McFarland (MF), Erhan Caglayan (MF).

Outlook: Saxons may have lost one of the top players in the state (Beard) from a year ago, but a terrific core of players return to possibly give them the edge in the race of challengers to Conant in the division. Younger brother (Josh) appears ready for break-out season, while Piotrowski, who he will paired with up top, combine to be as dynamic a strike-force as there is in MSL. The return of 5 with 3 years experience, including all-conference defender (Rion) should form a solid defensive stance. GK Sandburg is quite capable of recording spectacular goal-saving stops when needed. "This is the best 'playing' team that I've had since coming here," says Mehreioskouei. "These guys are soccer junkies. They all want to do whatever it takes to get better, and it's an exciting group to be around. Watch for both Hollis and Reyna as the Saxons play through these talented seniors in the middle.

West Suburban Gold

Leyden

Coach: Mark Valintis (1st year), 10-6-4 at Mt. Carmel.

Last year: 16-6-4 (3-2-1, 3rd, WSG), d. Schaumburg 2-1 (PK's) for regional title.

Key losses: Cosimo Patino (2-time all-area, 62 goals, 31 assists, Western Illinois), Tony Gutierrez (D, all-area), Francisco Ramirez (MF, 12 assists), Aaron Mendez (MF, 14 goals), John Boehmer (GK, 12 wins, 6 shutouts), Heider Sanchez (D), Jose Luis Mamahua (MF, GK),

Top returnees: Seniors Rafal Zalewski (MF, 11 goals, 8 assists), Arturo Robles (D), Eddie Adame (MF, 10 goals, 5 assists); juniors Jossimar Mendez (D), Danny Fuentes (CMF, 7 goals).

Newcomers to watch: Seniors Jaime Pacheo (MF), Chris Morales (F); junior Omar Triez (GK).

Outlook: Former Oak Park assistant Valintis takes the reins after veteran head coach Paul Keenan left for Notre Dame to lead program where he began his storied career in 1987. New Eagles' coach inherits a solid core of starters, including 3-year starter Zalewski, who will anchor an attack that will provide balance to compensate for the loss of big-time striker Patano. "There's a lot of speed and talent in the middle and up top for us, and in time, after playing together for awhile, those guys will find a way to score," says Valintis, who is looking for more consistency from his backline in front of new GK's.

Central Suburban North

Maine West

Coach: Mike Divincenzo (7th year), 56-52-25.

Last year: 9-6-5 (3-4-2, CSN).

Key losses: Matt Stieve (all-area GK, 11.5 career shutouts, NYU), Jaime Flores (all-area D, Oakton JC), Marino Jozic (10 goals).

Top returnees: Seniors Austin Newbury (D), Stewart Turner-Jackson (D), Emsad Zahirovic (F), Danny Montesions (MF,F); juniors David Puka (F, 4 goals, 10 assists), Alex Esquivel (MF); sophomore Cody Uidl (MF).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomore Angel Herrera (MF), Pat Pliszka (MF).

Outlook: Always a club filled with athletes, Warriors' head coach appears to have that and also a nice blend of soccer players on the roster to be considered a serious contender in the always-tough CSN with perennial favorite Glenbrook North. "We play a very difficult non-conference schedule this season, but if we can handle the physical demands of it all, we should have a very exciting year," said Divincenzo. The rookie Herrera seems to be a natural fit after off-season together in club (Sockers) alongside Puka, and together with burner Zahirovic, who now joins a long line of soccer players at West who will pull double-duty as PK. Size, strength and poise of returning defenders Newbury and Turner-Jackson are key along the back for club while Divincenzo searches for replacement of superb former GK Stieve.

East Suburban Catholic

St. Viator

Coach: Mike Taylor (28th year), 318-112-73, (379-172-93, career)

Last year: 14-4-5 (6-1-2, 3rd, ESCC). Lost to Lake Zurich 3-0 in regional final.

Key losses: Brock Tomlinson (GK, all-area, SMU), Sebastian Domczewski (GK, all-sectional, 12 career shutouts), Andrew Alboona (MF, 7 goals), Jimmy Kane (MF, All-Sectional, 8 goals), Peter Calov, 7 goals, 8 assists), Sean Reidy (MF), Eric Owens (MF).

Top returnees: Seniors Jonathan Harris (GK, all-area), Victor Mendoza (MF), Josh Concon (F, 9 goals), Matt King (D), Shane Owens (MF), Alec Simpson (MF, F); sophomore Trevor Wheeler (MF).

Newcomers to watch: Junior Matt Riggio (D, transfer from Carmel).

Outlook: While long-time head coach Taylor nears 400 career wins, attention also turns to his best players, Northwestern-bound Harris, who moves back to his natural position GK after mastering backline position for two seasons. That shift, along with the addition of Carmel-transfer Riggio will help solidify backline to give Lions line-up time to mature.

"It will take awhile to gel," admits Taylor, "but six matches in the first 10 days along with our tough schedule outside of the ESCC will go a long way into the development of this club."

Terrific play in off-season during trip to Europe may be the springboard Lions needed to climb the table in the ESCC and up and over both Benet and Carmel, who have finished 1-2 during the past three seasons. Rise of sophomore Wheeler on club level spells trouble for the opposition, as does expectation of the same by MF Mendoza, who Taylor feels holds the key as he runs alongside teammate Wheeler in the middle.