SECTIONAL FINALS 2013
Dreams come true and seasons come to an end around this time of year. For
the 32 teams seeking one more win in order to qualify for the 2013 state
water polo tournament, 'Sectional Final Saturday' is the biggest day on the
season's calendar. Here is your guide to all of the action on Saturday, May
1:30pm (1) Fenwick
vs (2) Lyons
As if the rubber match between Fenwick and Lyons needed any more dramatics,
the news that Friars'
senior Matt Farmer has returned for the sectional playoffs just elevated
this game from epic to a term that hasn't been approved yet by Webster's
Dictionary. Last year's sectional final contest between the two squads ended
with Joe Shannon scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals and the
Lions' defense holding Fenwick scoreless for the last three minutes of the
game. Earlier this year, the Friars found their groove against their
nemesis, beating Lyons 6-5 to win their own tournament. Two weeks ago,
the Lions responded with a 9-5 victory over a Farmer-less Fenwick,
continuing their winning streak that began right after their Week 2 loss to
Questions: How effective will Farmer be after a five-week layoff?
Will the Friars benefit from playing in their home pool (last year's event
was played at York)? And will the winner of this game end up winning the
state title like Lyons did after surviving this battle last season?
(1) Conant vs (3) Hoffman
It doesn't get more impressive than Conant's 13-0 shutout victory over
Schaumburg in the sectional semifinal game on Friday. The Cougars were
already on a roll heading into the postseason and are now just one win away
from a chance to win a trophy at this year's state tournament. Standing in
their way is their conference rival Hoffman Estates. The bad news for
Hoffman is that they have lost to Conant in both of their regular season
meetings. The good news is that the same was true heading into last night's
sectional semifinal contest with Fremd, but the Hawks earned a surprise 6-4
win over the sectional hosts. Can they pull off the same feat against their
Questions: Can Logan Gizel and the Hoffman defense restrict the
Cougars' offense like they did against Fremd and pull off a second straight
upset? Will the Cougars be helped or hurt by the lack of stress they faced
in their first two postseason wins?
GLENBROOK NORTH SECTIONAL
(1) New Trier vs (2) Loyola
I considered a copy-and-paste job from the last three years of sectional
final previews between New Trier and Loyola when it came time to come up
with a preview for this game. Seeds, rankings, records, and who won during
the regular season don't seem to make a difference when these two rivals
meet in a sectional final...the game is always won by two goals or less.
Loyola has gotten the better of New Trier in recent postseason encounters
and are on a roll after winning the Catholic League title last weekend. The
Trevians beat the Ramblers in convincing fashion (15-6) on April 3, so Joey
Ryan, Jordan Palmer, and company should also enter this duel with loads of
confidence after a vastly consistent season where they only lost three times
(to the top three teams).
Questions: Can the Trevians get out to an early lead to erase any
doubts of a Loyola win? Or will Loyola be able to perform like they did in
last weekend's upset win of Fenwick in the MCAC title game?
(1) Homewood-Flossmoor vs (3) Lockport
Lockport edged Homewood-Flossmoor 10-9 in this same exact spot last season
en route to a fourth place finish at the state tournament. In the first
meeting between the two in 2013, the Vikings avenged that loss with an 8-7
victory on March 28. Four weeks later, the Porters emerged victorious with a
10-8 win that helped them earn a share of the SWSC Blue title. Taking all of
that into consideration, expect a close contest between the two teams as
they lay it all on the line in Saturday's sectional final in a game that
seemingly any team could win.
Questions: Which team's top scorer will have the bigger game and
potential carry their team to a win, H-F's Kevin Kuchta or Lockport's Dan
Oldendorf? If the defenses focus on stopping both players, which role player
will turn into the hero with a state tournament berth on the line at LWN?
2:00pm (1) Stevenson vs (3)
The Patriots come into their sectional final matchup with Palatine as the
favorite, but a quick look back at the March 18 meeting between the two
squads shows that Stevenson needed an Alex Divanyan goal late in the fourth
quarter to emerge with a 12-11 victory. That means the Patriots and Pirates
could be in for quite a showdown in Mundelein's new pool in the last
sectional finals across the state on Saturday. Both teams are well-balanced
on the offensive end and both boast talented goalkeepers capable of
single-handedly winning a game for their respective teams. Both teams also
suffered a few late-season losses but have seemingly found their groove in
the postseason, with the Patriots avenging a regular season loss to
Libertyville on Friday and the Pirates beating second-seed Lake Forest to
Questions: Which team has enough left in the tank to earn one more
win after tough semifinal games less than 24 hours ago? Which team will make
the better in-game adjustments to get their team over the finish line and to
the state tournament?
12:30pm (1) Naperville North
vs (3) Hinsdale Central
The Huskies are on a roll after an impressive 18-9 victory over York on
Friday night. They also have the experience of being in this situation after
winning a sectional title last season. Hinsdale Central, on the other hand,
will be playing in their first sectional final in team history, but what
they lack in title game experience they more than make up for with a
senior-laden group that should have no trouble preparing for this matchup.
They will, however, have to come up with a way to stop the Naperville North
offense, which scored in double-digits in both regular season meetings
against the Red Devils; North won 14-10 in a Week 6 tournament and on April
16 by a 16-4 margin.
Questions: Can the Red Devils' defense handle Eric Curia, who totaled
8 goals against them in the two meetings and scored 9 times in last night's
win over York? Will a quick Naperville North offense be able to deal with
the physical Hinsdale Central defense if the officials decide to swallow
their whistles and let the teams go at it?
(1) Sandburg vs (2) Brother Rice
The long-awaited sectional final between Sandburg and Brother Rice is
finally upon us, as the two teams missed each other in last year's sectional
final when the Crusaders were upset by Stagg in the semifinal round. This
time they escaped the Chargers upset bid, falling behind 3-1 but pulling out
a 9-6 victory on Friday night. The Eagles had no such trouble on their side
of the bracket, as they beat St Rita 15-3 to put themselves in position to
try and better last year's second-place state tournament finish. Brother
Rice will point to their Week 7 win over the Eagles at their own tournament,
which saw the Crusaders smash the Eagles 13-3. Sandburg has on a roll since
then, however, as they earned a share of the SWSC Blue title and will be
looking to avoid the mistakes of their regular season loss to Brother Rice.
Questions: Can the Eagles perform better on the offensive end this
time around, after hitting the post nearly a dozen times in their earlier
loss to the Crusaders? If the Eagles can shut down Kevin Mayer, can the rest
of the Brother Rice offense pick up the slack like they have done in a few
recent games? Can Kevin Tunney and the Eagles' attack get out to an early
lead to erase the fears of the double-digit loss to the Crusaders from just
three weeks ago?
7:45pm (1) St Ignatius
vs (2) DeLaSalle
St Ignatius used a balanced offensive attack to beat DeLaSalle 8-3 earlier
in 2013 as Jesus Juarez, John Reyes, and Shane Hughes each scored 2 goals in
a conference victory. Will the Wolfpack be able to do it again with a state
tournament berth on the line, just one year removed from losing to Latin in
their own sectional final? The Meteors, on the other hand, have never been
in this position before, so only time will tell if they can handle the
pressure of the situation or if their nerves will get them in trouble early
on if the sectional hosts come out firing on all cylinders.
Questions: Can a young Wolfpack team deal with the pressure of being
a heavy favorite knowing they are just one win away from a state tournament
berth? Will DeLaSalle embrace playing the role of spoiler and perform better
without letting the pressure of their first sectional final in team history
get to them?