Boys soccer: Scouting the postseason in Cook and Lake County
On the eve of the 2022 boys soccer Class 2A and 3A postseason, it's time to take a quick glance at a handful of sectionals area clubs will compete in with an eye on advancing into supersectional and one win away from playing in the last weekend of this fall campaign.
Buffalo Grove sectional:
Top seeds: Stevenson (16-0-3), Warren (14-4-2), Hersey (9-7-1), Zion-Benton (13-6-3).
Outlook: NSC champion Stevenson was the clear choice to be anointed the top seed after its wildly successful near perfect regular season.
"This is something we've all been working on since last summer, and, in my opinion, it's a mental, and physical strength that has led to our success thus far, but now we have to turn our focus to what's ahead in the postseason," said the Patriots terrific central defender, Steven Nyc.
Fresh off lifting its 10th MSL championship trophy, No. 5 Fremd (13-5-2) faces a difficult No. 12 seed in Mundelein (8-5-7) in its regional opener at home. All-state candidate Ian Ferguson leads No. 7 Lake Zurich (10-4-3) into its regionals against No. 9 Round Lake (11-3-3) which is 8-1-1 in its last 10 including victories over 2A power Grayslake Central and 3A state-ranked Evanston.
The sectional champ advances to the Hersey supersectional on Nov. 1 where it will play the Glenbrook South sectional champion.
Glenbrook South sectional:
Top seeds: New Trier (13-1-5), Evanston (12-5-2), Oak Park-River Forest (14-3-0), Niles North (18-2-3).
Outlook: Up until its recent hiccup, No. 10 Leyden (10-7-5) had erased a dreadful start (0-4-2) to turn its season around with a 10-1-3 run.
"We moved some guys around, and players like Danny Guevara and Javier Solis have been terrific all season long. And with Avi Flores being our leader in the back in front of an emerging sophomore keeper, Daniel Llanos, our confidence is much higher than it was earlier," said Leyden coach Mark Valintis whose men will open with No. 6 Maine South (10-5-4).
No. 3 Oak Park-River Forest and No. 7 Glenbrook North (12-5-5) have each elevated its play, and have plenty of quality to advance out of this sectional.
The sectional champ advances into the Hersey supersectional on Nov. 1 where it will face the Buffalo Grove sectional champion.
St. Charles East sectional:
Top seeds: York (15-0-3), St. Charles East (16-3-3), Conant (17-4-1), West Chicago (9-5-2).
Outlook: The top heavy group begins with reigning 3A state champion York. The Dukes have turned in another marvelous season thus far led by two of the best at their positions: central defender Ryder Kohl (12 assists), and forward Jose Herrera (13 goals) and a host of talented teammates.
No. 3 Conant has the best overall record in the MSL season, and why not? MSL West POY Carson Belcher (14 goals) and sophomore Krystian Nizolek (11) are a dynamic duo up top, while the Cougars boast a terrific midfield to insure an high-powered attack that opponents must be wary of.
Off its overall play in the last two weeks, MSL East champion Elk Grove (10-5-3) should be a higher seed than its spot at No. 7, but with the first class leadership of co-captains Chris Gonzalez and Aaron Vazquez, the Grens will be one to watch for sure.
The sectional champ advances to the Streamwood supersectional on Nov. 1 where it will play the Hampshire sectional champion.
Grayslake Central sectional:
Top seeds: Grayslake Central (13-1-3), Vernon Hills (10-7-2), Crystal Lake South (12-4-3), Wauconda (10-3-3).
Outlook: Top seed Grayslake Central has overcome major losses to season-ending injuries to go 4-0-2 down the stretch, including a 3-3 draw with Glenbrook North with the Rams coming back from a 3-1 deficit.
No. 2 Vernon Hills claimed its first CSL North title recently, and coach Mike McCaulou has enough in his marvelous career to say this:
"During playoffs, every team needs to get lucky at times, but I am a firm believer that you create your own luck, and if you do the right things consistently, good things will happen more frequently than not," said McCaulou, whose men have played 15 Class 3A clubs this fall.
Over at Wauconda, Tim Millers' No. 4 Bulldogs edged high-flying Round Lake for top honors in the NLCC.
"We've found success this season because of the players' commitment to working hard in training, and playing for each other, and I see a closer group than ever compared to past several seasons," said Miller, who has leaned on co-captains Eddie Cirilo, and Karsten Ternes.
No. 5 St. Viator is on course to play Wauconda in its regional final.
The sectional champion advances to the Grayslake Central supersectional on Nov, 1 where it will face the Fenwick sectional champion.