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FEATURE ARTICLE

 

Sectionals 2011

BOYS Semifinal Previews

By Aaron Brown

 

A total of 32 teams remain in the sectional playoffs heading into Friday night's semifinal competition. We'll be down to the last sixteen teams by the end of the night, with the winners moving on to the sectional final round on Saturday. Here is a preview of the 16 semifinal games, which get started at 7:00pm and 8:15pm on Friday:

 


 

Barrington Sectional

7:00pm Schaumburg vs Fremd

8:15pm St Viator vs Conant

Things went according to plan on Thursday night in Barrington, as all four top seeds took care of business and earned solid wins to move to the semifinal round. And here is where things get interesting.

 

Schaumburg is the top-seed in the sectional and the odds-on favorite to get to state, but they are facing a Fremd team that beat them 9-8 back in March. Schaumburg won the next game between the two teams 9-8 later in the year and also closed the season out as the only team in the Mid-Suburban League to beat Palatine. Prediction...how about a 9-8 finish?

 

In the other game, both teams have a bit of intrigue surrounding both of them. Conant just looks like they are ready to make the leap at the end of the season, and they would like nothing more than a chance to take on either MSL team that wins the first semifinal for a chance to go to state. To do that, they will have to get through a St Viator team that could produce the unexpected in the next two days. They stumbled a bit down the stretch but have the potential to go on a three-game winning streak, which is what it would take for them to get to the state tournament. And let's not forget that Conant beat St Viator 16-5 at their own event less than two weeks ago.

 


 

Fenwick Sectional

7:00pm Fenwick vs York

8:15pm Oak Park vs St Patrick

It will take a great effort and then some to dethrone a Fenwick team that has yet to lose a game this season. That can be said for all of the teams that survived the quarterfinal round last night, but first things first. York has now edged Morton in two straight weeks, getting a solid effort from Tyler Stone (7 goals) in an 8-7 win on Thursday. He will need an enormous showing to keep the Dukes in the game with the Friars, who had every single player notch a goal in their 23-1 win over Payton on Thursday.

 

On the other side, Oak Park has the talent to make some noise in the sectional finals if they can get past St Patrick, but you can bet that the Shamrocks won't make it easy for the Huskies. St Pats had a solid overall effort in Thursday's 13-4 win over R-B, and they will need John Gutierrez, Peter Blume, and several others to step up if they plan to get past an Oak Park team led by David Anderson, Luke O'Connell, Nathan Pimentel and Troy Williams.

 


 

GBN Sectional

7:00pm New Trier vs Evanston

8:15pm GBS vs Loyola

To make a prediction for the GBN Sectional each year, one might consider using a dart board, flipping a coin, or maybe picking team names out of a hat. That should probably be no different this year, as the group of four rivals will be back in action on Friday night.

 

Evanston always seems to give New Trier fits, as evidenced by last weekend's 12-10 Trevians' win in the conference tourney. New Trier might want to take control of this game early, or the Wildkits might start thinking they can pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season in the first semifinal game at GBN.

 

It may be tough to remember, but GBS did beat Loyola 9-8 back in March. Since then, both teams have put together solid runs and probably don't resemble the teams that met around two months ago. There are several individual battles that will likely decide this contest, such as the one between GBS' Igor Gryniv and Loyola talisman Charlie Dowdle on the offensive end. The goaltenders could also play a big role, as the Titans' Tom Meyer and the Ramblers' Robbie O'Connor will be primed and ready to serve as the last line of defense for their respective teams.

 


 

LWN Sectional

7:00pm H-F vs LWE

8:15pm Sandburg vs Lockport

If Thursday night at LWN was considered wild, just imagine what things could be like with these four teams playing in the semifinal round for a chance to get to the sectional finals. The highlight of last night's proceedings came when Lockport's David Hir stunned Andrew with a last-minute goal to move the Porters into the next round to face Sandburg. Lockport already has a recent win over H-F and several other high-quality wins this season, but they are running into a bit of a buzzsaw when they face the red-hot Eagles on Friday night.

 

Before that, H-F will need to avoid a slip-up if the top seed is to get to another sectional final in 2011. The Griffins outlasted Bradley 7-5 on Thursday and have the type of goalie in Tom Vander Velde that can make life exceptionally difficult for an opposing offense. In fact, in the last meeting between the two teams, Vander Velde put together a great performance and the Vikings had to squeak out a 9-6 win. If the LWE offense can make some waves, they just might have enough to really put a scare into an H-F team that will need to be at their best.

 


 

Lyons Sectional

7:00pm Lyons vs Stagg

8:15pm Brother Rice vs Curie

The Lyons Sectional always seems to be decided by a matchup between the hosts and Brother Rice. Could that be different this year, with both Curie and Stagg primed and ready to cause a major shakeup if things go their way in Friday night's semifinal round? Both of the "underdogs" have put together remarkable seasons, so they have every right to be confident after earning convincing wins in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

 

The fact remains, however, that #2 Lyons and #4 Brother Rice are battle-tested, playoff-ready teams. So it will take an unreal performance by either Curie or Stagg if they are to get to the sectional finals at LT in 2011.

 


 

Neuqua Valley Sectional

7:00pm Naperville Central vs Hinsdale Central

8:15pm Neuqua Valley vs Naperville North

The final four at the Neuqua Valley Sectional has a bit of an odd feel to it, since Hinsdale Central finally crashed the semifinal party after knocking off Waubonsie Valley in a 12-10 upset win on Thursday night. They will need an even stronger effort and will need to pull an even bigger upset if they plan to take out top-seed Naperville Central, a team coming off a 26-3 season. Stranger things have happened on Friday the 13th in the past, so the Redhawks would be best advised not to overlook the Red Devils on Friday night.

 

The second semifinal could go either way, as Neuqua Valley and Naperville North split their two-game series in 2011. Both picked up quality wins against the St Charles teams last night, but they know they will need to be at their best less than 24 hours later if they want a chance to play for a state tournament berth.

 


 

UIC Sectional

7:00pm St Ignatius vs Von Steuben

8:15pm Latin vs Young

The last three times that UIC has hosted a sectional, the final has come down to a matchup between St Ignatius and Latin. Can the two Chicago Public League schools deny either of them that chance in 2011? Both Von Steuben and Young are vastly improved, especially a Dolphins' team that lost only three times this season. Revenge may also be a factor, considering that Latin has knocked the Young out of the tournament for two straight seasons.

 

The hosts would also be wise not to overlook a 15-win Von Steuben team. However, there is a reason the Wolfpack have made it to state in three of the past four seasons. They have a great deal of experience and talent, so expect them to be ready to make another push for a state berth.

 


 

Vernon Hills Sectional

7:00pm Palatine vs Libertyville

8:15pm McHenry vs Mundelein

 

There's a lot of questions surrounding tomorrow's sectional semifinals at Vernon Hills. Can Libertyville recover from a five overtime game to challenge top-seeded Palatine? Will the Pirates be able to repeat their solid overall performance in yesterday's win over Lake Forest? What do we make of the game between McHenry and Mundelein when the two teams have not met since the opening week of the season? Can the Warriors balanced attack prove too hard to stop for Mundelein? And can the Mustangs, a team that faced a bunch of hurdles throughout the regular season, turn things on when it matters most in an elimination game?

 


 

 

For more previews and info, check out the Boys' Sectional Previews and the 2011 Sectional Center.

 

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