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  2015 Boys' Season Preview         

  By Aaron Brown

 

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Loyola outlasted Fenwick in overtime to claim their first-ever IHSA state title in 2014. Will the Ramblers be able to reload quickly enough to defend their title? Will a motivated and loaded Fenwick team take out their anger on the rest of the state and start a new title streak? Or can challengers like Naperville Central, Stevenson, St Ignatius, Lyons, Naperville North, or anyone else shake things up and claim a title in what should be an exciting 2015 season?

 

Let's take a closer look at some of the top teams in the state of Illinois on the boys' side in 2015:


1. FENWICK

Head Coach: Kyle Perry

Key Players: Andrew Bertschy, Bailey Wendt, Danny Farmer, DJ Perez, Jack Mahoney, Ryan Masi

Players to Watch: Colin Daly, Wally LaBarbera, Will Skowron

Goalkeeper: Mike Hill

Final 2014 Ranking: 2nd

 

2014 Verdict: Fenwick beat Lyons 13-7 to win the LT Sectional. They also beat St Ignatius and Naperville North in the first two rounds of the state tournament. The Friars lost to Loyola 11-10 in overtime in the state championship game and finished with a 31-5 record.

 

Outlook: The Friars return nearly every starter to a team that came one goal short of a state title in 2014. A loaded and motivated Fenwick team has to be a scary thought for the rest of the state. For more about the Friars, check out this article from the summer edition of USA Water Polo's Skip Shot Magazine.


2. NAPERVILLE CENTRAL

Head Coach: Bill Salentine

Key Players: Christian May, Kyle Jackson, Michael Joza, Mike Stern, Nick Walker, Phillip Emden

Players to Watch: Eric Stablein, Jimmy Fox, Matt Wooten, Nick Rosensteil, Scott Piper

Goalkeeper: Joe Lawrence

Final 2014 Ranking: 6th

 

2014 Verdict: The Redhawks led early but lost 9-6 to Naperville North in the sectional final round at MV. Central earned wins over the hosts and York in the earlier rounds and finished the season with a 24-7 mark.

 

Outlook: The Redhawks "quietly" posted 24 wins and fell just a few goals short of a state tournament berth last season. They should make a lot more noise this year as the favorites to emerge from the always-tough Naperville-area sectional.


3. STEVENSON

Head Coach: Sean Wimer

Key Players: Alex Kapecki, Andrew Shashin, Dan Maleski, Kurt Holzer, Liam Holzer, Luke Gable-Preze

Players to Watch: Collin Kapecki, Cris Tomasetti, Rahul Arun

Goalkeeper: Shaurya Gilani

Final 2014 Ranking: 4th

 

2014 Verdict: Stevenson won the Mundelein Sectional after beating the hosts in the sectional final round. They also defeated Brother Rice in the state quarterfinals before losses to Loyola and Naperville North saw them finish with a fourth-place trophy and a 26-9 record.

 

Outlook: The Patriots mix together a stable of young talent with plenty of solid veterans that will have the squad aiming to improve on last year's fourth-place finish at the state tournament. With plenty of depth and postseason experience, Stevenson could be fighting for their first-ever IHSA state title by the end of the season.


4. ST IGNATIUS

Head Coach: Luis Martinez

Key Players: Billy Barth, Brendan Stelmach, Enrique Leon, Greg Glaab, Michael Christy, Shane Hughes

Players to Watch: Andreas Christy

Goalkeeper: Jack Dunn/Sam Enger

Final 2014 Ranking: 5th

 

2014 Verdict: The Wolfpack claimed their own sectional title by beating DLS 13-8 in the sectional finals. They bowed out of the state tournament after a quarterfinal loss to Fenwick, ending the campaign with a 24-5 record.

 

Outlook: The Wolfpack boast one of the most lethal combinations in the state with Barth and Hughes leading the way, but they will need several other players to step up in order to get back to the state tournament and challenge for a title.


5. LYONS

Head Coach: Doug Eichstaedt

Key Players: George Lundgren, Matt McDonnell, Thomas Waters, Sean Shafer, Tommy Kaptur

Players to Watch: Adam Cardone, Nathan Henderson, Sam Szczepaniak

Goalkeeper: Jack Linden

Final 2014 Ranking: 7th

 

2014 Verdict: The Lions won a 10-7 thriller over rival Oak Park in the sectional semifinal round before falling to Fenwick in their own sectional's title game. They posted a 22-11 mark in 2014.

 

Outlook: The Lions' program should never be underestimated; they now have the depth and talent to be one of the most dangerous teams in the state in 2015. The defense will be their strong point, so if they can replace the production of a few graduating seniors on the offensive end, Lyons could become a serious title contender by season's end.


6. LOYOLA

Head Coach: Dan Hengelmann

Key Players: Andrew Hodur, George Harris, Ragen Murphy, Jack Schermerhorn, John Pasquesi

Players to Watch: Chris Jovanovich, Kevin Manna, Matt Merucci, Michael Considine

Goalkeeper: Walter Haracz

Final 2014 Ranking: 1st

 

2014 Verdict: The Ramblers responded to missing the state tournament in 2013 by winning their first IHSA state title in an 11-10 overtime thriller over Fenwick. They also beat the Friars in the Catholic League title game and finished their epic season with a 31-5 record.

 

Outlook: The majority of the starting lineup is gone for the Ramblers, who will look to defend their first-ever IHSA state title with several fresh faces leading the way. As always, expect Loyola to steadily build throughout the season before making their usual postseason push to challenge for another title.


7. NAPERVILLE NORTH

Head Coach: Martin Bell

Key Players: David Holzer, Drake McClure, Joe Tomashek, Matt Magee, Spencer Wallace

Players to Watch: Charlie Calvo, Charlie Owens, Cole Jacobs, Jon Pettinger, Reilly McDonnell

Goalkeeper: Jack Roche

Final 2014 Ranking: 3rd

 

2014 Verdict: The Huskies won the Metea Valley Sectional, beat Sandburg in the state quarterfinals, lost to Fenwick in the state semifinals, before finishing their 33-2 campaign with a decisive 9-3 victory over Stevenson in the consolation game to claim a third-place trophy.

 

Outlook: The Huskies will look to reload quickly after last year's 33-win, third-place finish. If some of the new starters can make an immediate impact, North could be in the same position as they were last season (where they only lost once in the regular season and proved impossible to beat for the rest of the Naperville-area teams). The team lost a lot of firepower, but it would be wise not to underestimate the Huskies' chances in 2015.


8. SANDBURG

Head Coach: Jim Caliendo

Key Players: Alex Serrano, Dovydas Paskevicous, Jimmy Foley, Majd Ibraham, Mike Hinde, Mitch Zieler

Players to Watch: Jake Grella, Tino Pappas

Goalkeeper: Nick Jackson

Final 2014 Ranking: 10th

 

2014 Verdict: Sandburg advanced to the state tournament after getting past Andrew 12-10 in the LWE Sectional title game. They lost in the state quarterfinals to Naperville North to finish the season with a 25-9 mark.

 

Outlook: The Eagles should be just as good as they were last season despite the loss of some major talent on both ends of the pool. If the new starters can make a quick impact to help the tandem of Ibraham and Zieler, an SWSC Blue title and a state tournament berth could be within the grasp of head coach Jim Caliendo's squad.


9. OAK PARK

Head Coach: John Rapp

Key Players: Josh Gronwold, Kevin Perez, Kiernan Kelty, Lawrence Cozzi, Riley Silber, Robbie Wickes

Players to Watch: Jordan Mann, Leo Manola, Marco Manola, Rodderick Williams, Thomas Wolfe

Goalkeeper: Kevin Obrecht

Final 2014 Ranking: 8th

 

2014 Verdict: The Huskies won the West Suburban Conference title over Lyons in Week 9 before falling to the Lions in the sectional semifinals the next weekend at the LT Sectional. They ended the season with a 19-11-1 mark.

 

Outlook: Oak Park lost a great deal of production from last season's team, yet they somehow start the 2015 campaign with a fully loaded squad looking to pick up right where they left off. Their rivalry with Lyons should play a major factor in the success of their season, as two hard-fought games between the two teams at conference and sectionals could once again be on the agenda if this season plays out like the end of the previous one.


10. BROTHER RICE

Head Coach: Tony Cichowicz

Key Players: Brennan Russell, Matt Bachler, Luke Healy, Kevin Mulcrone, Peter Gurka, Tommy Davey

Players to Watch: James Ryan, Andrew Szczepaniak

Goalkeeper: Sean Ross

Final 2014 Ranking: 17th

 

2014 Verdict: Rice stunned Curie 10-9 in the sectional semifinal round before getting past Stagg the next day to advance to the state tournament despite finishing the year with an 11-19 record. The Crusaders lost 12-7 to Stevenson in the state quarterfinal round.

 

Outlook: The Crusaders made amends for an up-and-down regular season with an impressive run to the state tournament and will look to keep the momentum going in 2015. If the team can get off to a solid start, they could prove to be a dangerous opponent inside and out of the Catholic League.


11. NEUQUA VALLEY

Head Coach: Adam Hoffer

Key Players: Brett Whaley, Joey Dalesandro, Ian Ivkovich, Simon Shatinsky, Scott DePuy

Players to Watch: Brandon Gorski, Jack Angus, Lucas Becker, Troy Salafatinos

Goalkeeper: Austin Mollway

Final 2014 Ranking: 19th

 

2014 Verdict: The Wildcats fended off Waubonsie Valley 15-12 in the sectional quarterfinals at Metea Valley before losing to Naperville North in the semifinal round. Neuqua ended the year with an 18-14 mark.

 

Outlook: All of a sudden, Neuqua Valley looks like one of the most dangerous teams in the state after returning nearly everyone to the starting lineup. This could be the year that the Wildcats break up the domination of the Naperville area by Central and North to make their first state tourney appearance.


12. LOCKPORT

Head Coach: Joe Lewandowski

Key Players: Eric Johnson, Joey Tomczuk, Matt Cavanaugh, Steve Howell, Tommy Boland, Zach Elias

Players to Watch: Kris Ackerman, Matt Zajac

Goalkeeper: Pat Melaniphy

Final 2014 Ranking: 13th

 

2014 Verdict: Lockport beat Lincoln-Way North in the sectional quarterfinals but dropped an 11-8 decision to Andrew in the LWC Sectional semifinal round. Nevertheless, the Porters went 27-5 and won the SWSC Blue regular season title.

 

Outlook: The Porters continue to put together impressive seasons, as they followed up a fourth-place finish in 2012 with 25+ win seasons the past two years. Expect more of the same from a Lockport team that has several players returning for head coach Joe Lewandowski.


13. NILES WEST


Head Coach: John Przekota

Key Players: Lucas Brace, Max Yusim, Miguel Paloma, Simon Villegas

Players to Watch: Kohler Mohr

Goalkeeper: Matt Lefler

Final 2014 Ranking: 12th

 

2014 Verdict: Niles West ended an impressive 22-8-1 campaign with sectional playoff wins over GBS and Maine South before falling to the eventual state champions in the GBS Sectional final.

 

Outlook: The Wolves' program continues to flourish as they look to build off a 22-win season in 2014. The team fell just one win shy of a state tournament berth before losing to the eventual state champs, but this could be the year for the program to win its first-ever sectional title.


14. DE LA SALLE


Head Coach: Beto Garcia

Key Players: Daniel Clark, Diego Leanos, Lucas Gawron, Omar Gomez, Roberto Rodriguez

Player to Watch: Gilbert Moreno

Goalkeeper: Joseph Koziol

Final 2014 Ranking: 15th

 

2014 Verdict: The Meteors earned an overtime win over St Patrick in the MCAC Tournament to finish in fourth place in the Catholic League last season. The following week, they claimed two sectional wins before falling to St Ignatius in the UIC Sectional final. DLS went 19-12 in 2014.

 

Outlook: DeLaSalle made quite a turnaround in 2014, increasing their win total from nine to nineteen and coming up one win short of a state tournament berth. The pieces are in place for the Meteors to shatter the twenty-win barrier and the team has established themselves as a major threat to do some damage in the postseason.


15. ST PATRICK

Head Coach: Marty Gibson

Key Players: Anthony Barsano, Dan Walsh, Jason Schuler, Joseph Gibson, Mike Taylor

Player to Watch: Andrew Coszek

Goalkeeper: Tim Noble

Final 2014 Ranking: 16th

 

2014 Verdict: The Shamrocks beat Morton in the sectional quarterfinals at LT before falling to Fenwick in the following round. They finished the 2014 campaign with a 15-9 record.

 

Outlook: St Patrick begins the new season with a solid-looking lineup that could make a major impact in both the Catholic League and in the postseason. The team improved from 9-19 to 15-9 over the last two seasons, so expect the Gibson-led bunch to rack up a few more wins and move their way into the Top 10 if they can live up to their potential.


16. GLENBROOK SOUTH

Head Coach: Dave Lieberman

Key Players: Danny Dragman, Jordan Spalding, Peter Dales, Tommy Hagerty

Player to Watch: PJ Thoelecke

Goalkeeper: Davis Hianik

Final 2014 Ranking: 14th

 

2014 Verdict: GBS won the CSL Tournament title before beating Evanston in the sectional quarterfinals. They lost to Niles West in the sectional semifinals and ended the year with a 14-15 mark.

 

Outlook: The Titans return a great deal of production from a team that really started to click down the stretch of the previous season. They should be in contention to win a few tournaments as well as another CSL Tournament title before looking to make an ever stronger impact in this year's postseason at what will likely be another stacked GBN Sectional.


17. NEW TRIER

Head Coach: Dave Rafferty-Flatter

Key Players: Alex Grant, Chandler Tempest, Chris Keller, Michael Krueger, Rodrigo Garcia, Will Kohr

Players to Watch: Danilo Scekic, Jackson Ingle, Mason McQuet

Goalkeeper: Piers Braunrot

Final 2014 Ranking: 20th

 

2014 Verdict: New Trier beat GBN in the sectional quarterfinals at GBS before falling to eventual state champion Loyola in the sectional semifinals. The Trevians ended the year with a 17-11-1 record.

 

Outlook: The Trevians have a new head coach, plenty of depth, and an abundance of talent that could help them navigate through a stacked Central Suburban League and an always-difficult sectional. If they can live up to their potential, New Trier could make their way back to the state tournament after missing out on the event last season.


18. CURIE

Head Coach: Victor Sanchez

Key Players: Dylan Franco, Ivan Ariza, Jeronimo Chavez, Manny Martinez, Oscar Hernandez

Players to Watch: Adrian Lemus, Christian Campos

Goalkeeper: Manny Martinez/TBA

Final 2014 Ranking: 21st

 

2014 Verdict: The Condors beat Whitney Young to claim the CPS title but were stunned by Brother Rice 10-9 in the semifinal round of the Stagg Sectional. They ended the year with a perfect record in their conference and a 19-11 overall mark.

 

Outlook: Curie has plenty of weapons and the necessary experience to make a deep postseason run. If things go according to plan, the Condors could secure their first-ever state tournament berth when all is said and done in 2015.


19. STAGG


Head Coach: Ken Stoffel

Key Players: Alex Kinz, Evan Johnson, John Schmidt, Nick Amendola, Peter Krivanec, Zack Amendola

Players to Watch: Gabe Jazierski, Jakob Russo, Nick Lane

Goalkeeper: Lane Holin

Final 2014 Ranking: 18th

 

2014 Verdict: The Chargers went 21-12 in 2014 and beat both Mt Carmel and St Rita at sectionals but couldn't get past Brother Rice in the sectional finals to claim their first-ever state tournament berth.

 

Outlook: Stagg had a solid season and their best chance to snag their first sectional title last year; they could have the same chance this postseason as several starters return to the fold for head coach Ken Stoffel.


20. ANDREW


Head Coach: Krzystof Kowal

Key Players: Broderick Garren, Dan Cavato, Eric Villasenor, Kyle Lynch, Mark Gannon, Matt Bobber

Players to Watch: Brent Hofer, Nick Osty

Goalkeeper: Colin Hovorka

Final 2014 Ranking: 11th

 

2014 Verdict: The T-Bolts ran away with the SWSC Red division and earned wins over Bradley and Lockport in the first two rounds of the LWC Sectional. They lost to Sandburg to just barely miss out on the program's first-ever state tournament appearance and ended the campaign with a 26-4 record.

 

Outlook: Andrew came up just two goals short of a first-ever state tournament berth after putting together a 26-win season. The program could be in position to have the same chance when the postseason arrives if several new faces in the starting lineup can keep things headed in a positive direction.


21. LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL


Head Coach: Jim Lock

Key Players: Cody Torres, Cody Kolbus, Greg Derk, Matt Klock, Pat Burke, Zach Otto

Player to Watch: Andrew Smith, Luke Bloodgood

Goalkeeper: Jake Burke

Final 2014 Ranking: 22nd

 

2014 Verdict: The Knights earned a convincing sectional quarterfinal round win over H-F before falling to Sandburg in the following round. LWC claimed a solid second-place finish in the SWSC Red division and posted a 15-12-1 record in 2014.

 

Outlook: Central has a dedicated and disciplined group of players that should be able to work their way up the rankings and challenge for the SWSC Red title and a state tournament berth in 2015. The team has posted two consecutive double-digit win seasons after winning just one game in 2012, so this could be the year where the Knights surpass the 20-win barrier if they keep improving at such a rapid pace under head coach Jim Lock.


22. PALATINE

Head Coach: Joe Gryzbek

Key Players: Ivan Turkan, Dan Walden, Jacob Baran, Julian Zieba, Ryan Schlaiss, TJ May

Player to Watch: Dylan White

Goalkeeper: Colin White

Final 2014 Ranking: 9th

 

2014 Verdict: Palatine capped off a perfect regular season in the MSL by beating Hersey in the MSL title game. They won their own sectional with wins over Conant and Fremd to advance to the state tourney, where they lost in the quarterfinal round to Loyola.

 

Outlook: The Pirates ended the 2014 season with an MSL title and a state tournament berth; they will have to make up for the loss of a trio of 100+ goal-scorers, but Palatine could be back in a similar position if some of the new starters can make an immediate impact.


23. ST CHARLES NORTH

Head Coach: Chris Cloy

Key Players: Chris Stanek, Jeremy Leal, Jon Gallee, Nathan Bawolek, Ryan Helfers

Player to Watch: Jack Williams, John Quinn, Sam Lilly

Goalkeeper: Garrett Allamian

Final 2014 Ranking: 25th

 

2014 Verdict: STC North lost a heartbreaker to York in the quarterfinal round of the MV Sectional. Still, the North Stars finished the year with an impressive 21-8-1 record.

 

Outlook: The North Stars should be able to follow up last year's solid performance with another strong campaign, as several key players are back in the mix for head coach Chris Cloy's squad. If the new faces in the lineup can contribute immediately, expect North to be one of the most dangerous teams to face in the postseason this coming May.


24. YORK

Head Coach: Brian Drumm

Key Players: Ben Howlett, Danny Stumpf, Logan Frendreis, Jack Romito, Jordan Jopes, Kolin Bergl

Players to Watch: Bailey Waldherr, Tim Evely

Goalkeeper: Tyler McKenna

Final 2014 Ranking: 24th

 

2014 Verdict: York stunned STC North in overtime of the Metea Valley Sectional quarterfinals before losing to Naperville Central in the next round. The Dukes ran through the gauntlet of a tough schedule to end the year with a 14-16 mark.

 

Outlook: The Dukes are a relatively young team with loads of potential that will once again face what is arguably the toughest schedule in the state of Illinois. Regardless, York has some serious potential and should be able to flip their record around and wreak some havoc on some of the top teams in the state throughout the 2015 season.


25. WAUBONSIE VALLEY

Head Coach: Jeff Davis

Key Players: Bradin Krug, Cameron Steele, Ian Reyes, Jared Marrs, Jon McWhirter, Kay Andressen

Players to Watch: Bryan Ellig, Ethan Morse, Wyatt Tiscareno, Zack Woodham

Goalkeeper: Cedrick Chan

Final 2014 Ranking: 26th

 

2014 Verdict: The Warriors quietly amassed a 17-13 record by the end of the 2014 campaign but fell to Neuqua Valley in the quarterfinal round of the Metea Valley Sectional.

 

Outlook: Waubonsie Valley has playmakers, depth, and some exciting young prospects that could help the team rise through the rankings as the 2015 season rolls along. With a new head coach at the helm, look for the Warriors to set the tone for the new campaign in the opening two weeks with tournaments at Naperville North and Lincoln-Way North.


 

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