Boys lacrosse: Balanced offense keeps Grayslake Central ahead of the pack
The Grayslake Central boys lacrosse team has plenty to be proud of thus far.
The Rams started the week 9-0 overall and 4-0 in Northern Lake County Conference action.
"Offensively, we are led by a balanced attack," coach Chris Ridella noted.
Offensive contributors have included Jake Kruse, Mike Monahan, Luke Butvilas, Jaeger Breault, Cameron Ridella, Mason Russo and Colin Budill.
Contributors on defense for the Rams have been Kurt Heerdegen, Luca Maravola, Jackson Bullman, Dan Olsen, Jack Brown and Owen Agosthin. "They have been playing well together," Ridella said.
Jon Richard has starred in goal, logging a 67 save percentage. "Our defense is anchored by Jon in goal," Ridella said. "In addition to seeing the ball well, Jon also is playing well in the clearing game."
Butvilas has won 71 percent of his faceoffs, "which is important because it leads to additional possessions," Ridella pointed out.
Vernon Hills update: The Cougars were 10-4 winners over North Suburban Conference rival Deerfield in recent action.
Senior goalie Matthew Weinstein set a school record with 26 saves in a loss to New Trier. Senior Jack Sweeney had 5 goals and 5 assists in a win over Wauconda, while freshman Tyler Tran had 7 goals in an overtime loss to Mundelein.
Sweeney was leading the team in goals (30), assists (31) and points (61) to start the week, while Tran was shooting at a 40 percent clip and had 26 goals at week's start.
"Jack Sweeney's performance this season has been drawing a lot of attention from opponents, opening up opportunities for other players to step up," Vernon Hills coach Pat Fitzgibbons pointed out.
Fitzgibbons noted senior midfielders Alex Gil and Luke Lutgens have taken advantage of the attention directed at Sweeney. Gil had 7 goals and 3 assists, and Lutgens 7 goals and 6 assists during a recent 4-game run.
Weinstein, a converted hockey goalie, had 57 saves (.604 save percentage) over a recent four-game span. "Matthew has found his footing in the net," Fitzgibbons said. "He's a lifelong hockey goalie. When the plea for help went out after starting junior goalie Andrew Foerster was lost for the season due to injury, Matt stepped up to 'save' the day. His skills have translated well to lacrosse with similar techniques, terminology and defensive structures to hockey. The biggest issue Matt has had during the transition? Remembering that he doesn't have nearly as much padding. Every foot, leg or body save comes with a stinging reminder."
Fitzgibbons also has been thrilled with freshman Tran's play. He's already set school records for goals and points for a freshman and is challenging Sweeney for the team lead in goals. "Jack was a coach for Tyler's youth team in middle school," he said. "A mentor-mentee relationship that is visible during games, especially when Tyler scores."
Stevenson update: The Patriots were 10-2 overall and 2-1 in North Suburban play to start the week. Ryan Hynes has led the way for coach Tom Hake's squad, along with Colin Livesay.
"Ryan is our leader offensively and statistically," Hake said. "Colin is a two-way midfielder who helps to initiate our offense and plays tremendous 1-on-1 defense."
Lake Zurich update: The Bears lost four games in a row recently to Top 25 teams Stevenson, Marist, Warren and Maine South. "We learned a lot about ourselves in these losses," Bears coach Michael Sutton said.
Goalie Kyle Clouse has caught fire and had a 61.5 save percentage during a recent five-game span. Ryan Creel was leading the team in scoring with 23 assists and 31 points, while Kaden Gammelgaard had 72 groundballs to start the week.
Of note, starting defenders senior Kyle Schneider and freshmen Brady Powers and Reece Katzenberger have been lights out. "We run three or four different defenses and have been playing defense 80 percent of the games against the top teams," Sutton pointed out. "These three kids have been absolute warriors."
Sutton noted Gammelgaard, who he said will be a soon-to-be four-time all-conference pick, recently moved from defense to attack. "What makes those three defenders even more impressive is our defense has not taken even a small step back with the departure of Kaden," he said. "Kaden is the runaway leader in Lake Zurich program history on groundballs and caused turnovers. He has been our top defender since his freshman year. He's an absolute horse. For him to have an open mind and make such a gigantic change his senior year is flat-out inspiring."
Wauconda update: The Bulldogs recently won their first game of the season, an 11-6 triumph over Conant. Roman Stanley had 6 goals in the win.
Coach Anthony Piltaver said other strong play of late has come from the likes of Jacob Hawley, Mason Corneil and Jake Wright. "Jacob is a wizard with his stick and leads the team defense," the coach pointed out. "Mason has made an incredible transition to defense and plays big. Jake is a sold faceoff man and sets us up for success."
Mundelein update: The Mustangs edged Vernon Hills 16-15 in a recent North Suburban Conference game. Evan Simos is Mundelein's leading scorer. He was the leader in goals (25) and team midfield goals (26), while Logan Hansen was leading the team in attack goals (21).
Lakes update: The Eagles were 9-3 overall and 2-1 in Northern Lake County play at week's start. In a recent game against Antioch, Sean Ryan had 6 points, Collin Swiderski 5 points, Reid Kuriger and Carter Roche 4 points each, while Kuriger pounded home 7 goals in a game against Grant. Evie Blasius and Drew Schmidt combined in goal to shut out Antioch.
Kuriger and Ryan both have gone over the 50-point barrier this season, both career bests.
Coach Jacob Perry noted Kobe Brown and Swiderski have been key in marking up on the opposing team's top players, while Kuriger and Ryan "have stepped up into big roles offensively and have been big presences for us," he said.
Perry also likes how things have progressed on the back lines. "Defensively, we have been playing very well," he said. "Yes, we have had a couple games where we have given up a decent amount of goals, but you can see the progress in this group. It's going to be great to see them as we had toward the playoffs. Offensively, when we get into a groove, everyone is clicking and the ball is moving well. You see players who have risen into bigger roles due to injuries."
Antioch update: The Sequoits were on a two-game winning streak to start the week. Ryan Swanson (.600 faceoff percentage) and Ryan Tolbert (7 goals in a recent 4-game run) have led the way of late. Swanson is the team's leading scorer with 20 goals and 8 assists to start the week to go with 80 groundballs, while Nick Day had 46 take-aways and 61 groundballs and Logan Rosenthal had 13 goals to start the week.
"Ryan on offense and Nick on defense are the top two in every statistical category on our team," Antioch coach Pat Swanson said.
Antioch suffered a blow when Jack Holway was lost for the season due to illness. "After losing Jack, our offense is finally starting to look like it did in the beginning of the season," Swanson said.
Tolbert and Logan Rosenthal have been key offensive cogs, Swanson pointed out.
Grant update: Grant's Jake Deacon broke his own season goals record and was at 55 goals scored to start the week.
Other notables for the Bulldogs of late include Vinton Mora has averaged 3-plus caused turnovers per game over a recent five-game stretch. Ethan Frank had 3 hat tricks during another recent four-game span.
"We have been missing three of more starters the last six games due to injuries, but look to be back to 100 percent next week," coach Garrett Olsen said.