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  Sectional Semifinals Preview: Boys



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The following previews cover the boys' sectional semifinals on Friday, May 16.





4:30pm (1) Loyola vs (4) New Trier

The Ramblers and Trevians renew their longstanding rivalry in a sectional semifinal game that should pack the stands at Glenbrook South. New Trier won last year's sectional final game between the two teams 11-9 to qualify for the state tournament, but Loyola got the better of the Trevians in this year's regular season meeting 10-3 back in April. The Ramblers have been on a tear down the stretch of the season, winning the Catholic League Tournament just one week after beating Fenwick at the Stevenson Tournament. Still, the Trevians could give Loyola plenty of headaches if they are playing at full strength and might have a few tricks up their sleeve as they hope to pull of a semifinal round upset.




4:30pm (1) Fenwick vs (4) St Patrick

Catholic League rivals meet in the sectional semifinals in what could prove to be one of the best Friday night matchups across the state. The Friars got everyone involved in their opening round win over Taft and appear ready as ever to defend their state title. They also beat the Shamrocks 17-7 in early April and have weapons like Andrew Bertschy, Danny Farmer, and Omar Calderon ready to cause all sorts of problems for the St Patrick defense. The Shamrocks, led by Conor O'Rourke and Joseph Gibson, are a much-improved squad compared to last year's team that bowed out of the playoffs in the quarterfinal round and would like nothing more than to eliminate the Friars, which they did back in 2003 in their last state tournament appearance.




4:30pm (1) Naperville North vs (4) Neuqua Valley

The Huskies appear to be the team to beat in this year's playoffs after finishing the 2014 campaign with just one loss. Don't tell that to familiar foe Neuqua Valley, as they should be brimming with confidence after holding off Waubonsie Valley in the quarterfinal round. Simon Shatinsky and company have more than likely put their two regular season losses to North behind them and would like nothing more than to show the sectional favorites an early exit from the playoffs. That could prove to be a tall order, however, as Gianmarco Duin, Nolan Roberts, and lineup full of solid options could come out firing on all cylinders after a big win over Hinsdale Central on Wednesday.




4:30pm (1) Stevenson vs (4) Barrington

The Patriots have their sights set on a return trip to the state tournament in 2014 after they claimed a second-place trophy in last year's event. Their squad is loaded with weapons (Alex Divanyan, Andrew Shashin, and Mitchell Sokolsky to name a few), but they would be wise not to overlook a much-improved Barrington team led by junior Chase Lesniak. The Broncos are full of confidence after their quarterfinal round win over McHenry, so they could give Stevenson plenty to worry about on Friday afternoon.




4:30pm (1) Palatine vs (5) Conant

The Pirates rolled through the Mid-Suburban League with a perfect 10-0 mark and appear more than confident that they can eliminate a Conant team that they beat twice during the regular season. They have more than enough offensive firepower in the tank with Kristian Kalev, Omar El Hoffi, and Wally Kleinfeldt leading the charge. However, the Cougars are a much different team now that the postseason has arrived, as their 12-9 win over St Viator seems to suggest. They always seem to perform at a high level in the playoffs as well, like they did last season when they won the Fremd Sectional to advance to state. If they can get out to a quick start, this could be the type of game that goes down to the wire that anyone could win.




4:30pm (1) Curie vs (4) Brother Rice

The Condors inched closer to their first-ever state tournament appearance after Wednesday's win over Argo, but they face a team that always seems to turn it up a notch in the postseason in Brother Rice. Not only that, but the Crusaders beat Curie 13-12 in late April and feature a tough-to-stop Dan Birmingham on the offensive end. On the flip side, the Condors put together a perfect season in the CPS and have a plethora of talented playmakers led by Ivan Ariza and Jeronimo Chavez that are more than motivated not to let the chance of a state tournament berth slip away. The team that gets out to an early lead will probably be hard to overcome, so expect both teams to be ready when the first whistle blows at Stagg.




4:30pm (1) St Ignatius vs (4) Northside

A lot has changed since St Ignatius defeated Northside 16-1 on the third day of the 2014 season. While the hosts are the definite favorites entering this quarterfinal contest, they must be wary of a Northside team that is riding high after an 11-5 victory over Lane on Wednesday night. Don't expect St Ignatius to take their opponents lightly, however, as they know from experience how to navigate through the field at the UIC Sectional to get to the state tournament like they did last season.





5:45pm (2) Glenbrook South vs (3) Niles West

Both the Titans and Wolves have a great opportunity to reach the state tournament in 2014, but they will have to be at their best in this sectional semifinal pitting two Central Suburban League teams. GBS won the regular season contest between the two teams 9-5 over one month ago, but both teams have shown major improvements since then, which could lead to a much different type of game this time around. The Titans will call on Brant Boczek and Jake Nelson to lead the offense, while Niles West has an abundance of talented players led by the likes of Kyle Patt, Steven Renko, and Max Yusim that could cause fits for the GBS defense. The game could also hinge on which goalie has the most impressive performance, as Davis Hianik (GBS) and Matt Lefler (Niles West) are more than capable of taking over the game for their respective teams.




5:45pm (1) Sandburg vs (4) LWC

Sandburg always makes a habit of taking their game to another level in the postseason, so they should be primed and ready to square off with Lincoln-Way Central in an intriguing sectional quarterfinal contest on Friday night. Mitch Zieler and Zach Roper helped the Eagles squeak past the Knights 8-7 in the only regular season contest between the two squads, so it would be no surprise to see another close battle when a sectional final appearance is the eventual prize. LWC is also one of the most dangerous teams remaining in this year's playoffs, as evidenced by the Knights' impressive performance in eliminating defending sectional champions Homewood-Flossmoor on Wednesday.




5:45pm (2) Lyons vs (3) Oak Park

The game of the night could be the grudge match between West Suburban Conference rivals Lyons and Oak Park on Friday night. Just one week ago, the Huskies outlasted the Lions in overtime to win their conference tournament, which also happened to be the second time that OPRF beat Lyons in extra time (the same result occurred in Week 5 at the Lyons Tournament). Of course, the hosts would point to the Week 1 battle between the two squads, in which LT earned a 10-7 comeback win in a conference game. What does it all mean? Expect a tight game throughout and don't be surprised if either team advances to the sectional final round on Saturday for a chance at a state tournament appearance.




5:45pm (2) Naperville Central vs (6) York

The Redhawks are one step closer to a rematch with their rivals Naperville North for a state tournament berth (if the Huskies can get past Neuqua Valley), but they will have to avoid overlooking a York team that is flying high with confidence after they upset STC North in overtime on Wednesday. Central has been clicking on all cylinders late in the season, with recent wins over Loyola and Stevenson proving they are ready to make a deep postseason run. The Dukes are battle-tested, however, as they ran the gauntlet with one of the state's most difficult schedules and could have another surprise in line for their opponents if they get overlooked.




5:45pm (2) Libertyville vs (3) Mundelein

The Wildcats got the better of Mundelein 9-6 a few weeks ago in a regular season contest, but anything can happen when these two teams meet for a chance to get to the sectional finals on Friday. Libertyville will look to Adam King to provide the bulk of their offensive production, so look for Mundelein to put the focus on shutting him down this time around. Meanwhile, the Mustangs have a bevy of players that will look to supply the offense, as players like Art Kasemets, Jude Krauss and company have been waiting for this rematch since April 22. Neither team made it past the semifinal round last season, so expect both teams to be fired up to avoid letting the chance of a sectional final elude them this time around.




5:45pm (2) Hersey vs (6) Fremd

The Huskies have been one of the most improved teams in the state in 2014, as they won the MSL East and have already made it further than they did in last year's playoffs. Can they get one step closer to their first-ever state tournament berth or will MSL west foe Fremd be ready to pull off another upset like they did on Wednesday when they defeated Prospect 17-7?




5:45pm (2) Stagg vs (3) St Rita

Expect another closely contested battle between Stagg and St Rita on Friday evening with an appearance in the sectional finals on the line; the Chargers beat the Mustangs 8-6 in a Week 1 tournament game and both teams have shown major signs of improvement throughout the rest of the 2014 campaign. And with both teams hoping to make their first-ever state tournament appearance, this could very well be a game that comes down to which defense can step their game up in the fourth quarter.




5:45pm (2) DLS vs (6) Latin

The Meteors would like nothing more than to get another shot at a state tournament berth after falling a few goals short of upsetting St Ignatius in last year's UIC Sectional. They have a team loaded with depth and spearheaded by Robert Rodriguez that could see them make their first state tournament appearance when the week is over, but they will have to be cautious of a Latin team that stunned Whitney Young on Wednesday in the last quarterfinal game of the night. If Jacob Hirshman, Max Falb, Steve Grotewold and company have their best games, there could be another shock on the cards in the second semifinal of the evening in Chicago.





7:00pm (2) Lockport vs (3) Andrew

The second semifinal of the night at the LWC Sectional features SouthWest Suburban Conference victors Andrew and Lockport squaring off in what could be an epic contest to close out the boys' semifinal round. The T-Bolts will be looking for revenge after the Porters handed them their first loss of the season back on April 15, while Lockport will be looking from more of the same from stars Jake Speechley and Zach Elias, who combined to score 9 goals in the team's 14-9 win over their conference foes. Neither team lost much in 2014 (3 losses for Lockport, 4 losses for Andrew), but something has to give when two teams with contrasting styles lay it on the line for a spot in the sectional finals.








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