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  State Quarterfinal Previews: Boys



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GAME PREVIEWS (Thursday, May 22)





4:30pm - Naperville North vs Sandburg

The top-ranked Huskies are primed and ready for a run at their first-ever state title after posting 31 wins in 2014. Standing in their way are the Eagles, a dangerous team peaking at the right time after they won the LWC Sectional last weekend. Naperville North is loaded with talent and have experience on their side after they finished in third place at last year's event. Meanwhile, Sandburg is notorious for being able to take their game to the next level in the postseason under legendary head coach Jim Caliendo, making them one of the most dangerous opponents the Huskies could ask for in the opening round.


The teams did meet back in Week 5 in North's six-team tournament; Nolan Roberts scored 7 times as the Huskies beat the Eagles 9-4 on a Saturday morning. The key note from that game was that Sandburg was leading 2-1 early in the game and tied with the state's #1 team at the half (3-3) before North pulled away with a big second half run. If this game follows the same pattern, the Huskies and their fans will have to respond with the additional pressure that comes with playing on the main stage at Stevenson.


The Huskies are led by Gianmarco Duin and Nolan Roberts, but they have so many weapons that make them hard to defend. Look for Drake McClure, Garrett Nash, Luke Landiak and several others to play key roles on both ends of the pool. The Eagles will count on Mitch Zieler and Zach Roper to lead the offense, have a stellar goalkeeper in Sean McNicholas, and will look to players like Ben Crnich, Majd Ibrahim, and Mitch Winkelmann to play key roles in the Eagles' attempt to upset the state's top-ranked team.





5:45pm - Fenwick vs St Ignatius

Whenever the Friars reach the state tournament, they don't lose. That has been the case since 2002 when the IHSA sanctioned water polo as a sport, as Fenwick has won 10 of the last 12 titles and has only lost two sectional finals during that time. That means the Wolfpack have their work cut out for them, but they do have the type of team that could stun the Friars in the quarterfinal round on Thursday night.


The two Catholic League foes meet for the first time since Week 9 of the 2013 season, when Fenwick beat St Ignatius 10-2 in the MCAC Tournament. Interestingly enough, the teams were entered in three of the same tournaments along with a conference game and still (somehow) never met in 2014.


The Friars would probably like to send a message to the rest of the state in the opening round. To do so, they will look to Andrew Bertschy, Danny Farmer, Omar Calderon, and Ryan Masi to control the flow of the game and get them to the next round. They have plenty of other key players, including Bailey Wendt, DJ Perez, David Durkin, and goalie Mike Hill that could have big opening-round games. St Ignatius blends a mix of youth and veteran talent to get things done, with Billy Barth, John Reyes, Shane Hughes, and Tom Dowling the likely candidates to play the role of hero if the Wolfpack can dethrone the Friars. A key factor could also be St Ignatius' goalkeeper Tym Zymon, a veteran netminder that has the ability to be a major difference-maker in this one for head coach Luis Martinez' squad.





7:00pm - Brother Rice vs Stevenson

The Patriots are on a mission to win their first state tournament after coming close and finishing second in 2013. The Crusaders bounced back from a rocky regular season to upset both Curie and Stagg to get to the familiar territory of the state tournament that they have reached more often than not since 2002. Can the hosts beat Brother Rice for the third time in 2014 or will the rejuvenated Catholic League squad keep proving their doubters wrong in a Thursday night clash in Lincolnshire?


Stevenson looked to Andrew Shashin and Zach Stephens to fend off the Crusaders 10-9 back in Week 2 at the Fenwick Tournament, as the pair scored 8 times in the win. Recently, Shashin and Alex Divanyan each scored 3 goals to lead the Patriots past Rice 13-5 at the Stevenson Tournament in Week 8. However, Brother Rice looked like a different team last weekend, with Dan Birmingham and Matt Bachler imposing their will on Stagg in the sectional final to get the Crusaders to state.


On the flip side, the Patriots allowed for little suspense at last weekend's Mundelein Tournament, as they won all three of their games by 7+ goals and have a multitude of options on both ends of the pool. Head coach Sean Wimer will look to Alex Divanyan, Alex Kapecki, Andrew Shashin, Kurt Holzer, Liam Holzer, Mitchell Sokolsky, Zach Stephens, and goaltender Shaurya Gilani to power them beyond the quarterfinal round for a chance to claim the state title in 2014.





8:15pm - Loyola vs Palatine

The Ramblers might be the hottest team remaining in Illinois entering the state tournament after beating Fenwick twice in the last three weeks, winning the Catholic League Tournament, and navigating their way through the GBS Sectional last weekend. The Pirates claimed the MSL title, won 22 games, and have the type of weapons that could knock off a battle-tested Ramblers' team in the late game on Thursday night at the state tournament, so it would be wise for Loyola to avoid overlooking a dangerous Palatine team.


Loyola missed out on the state tournament in 2013, but they finished third and second in the previous two years, so head coach Dan Hengelmann knows how to get his team prepared for the opening round. The Pirates have always been knocking on the doorstep of winning a state trophy, so if their "big three" of Kristian Kalev, Omar El Hoffi, and Wally Kleinfeldt can step their game up, the Pirates could be the dark horse of the remaining teams come Saturday morning/afternoon.


Things tend to start and finish with Cam Shewchuck on both ends of the pool for Loyola. He does his thing in front of unsung hero/goalie Trevor Prince, who could be the key to the Ramblers winning their first ever IHSA state title. Meanwhile, Loyola will count on players like George Finn, Jack Nickele, Matt Kearney, and Tom Baker to get them to Saturday's semifinal round. While the trio of Kalev, El Hoffi and Kleinfeldt are hard to stop, head coach Joe Gryzbek will likely look to defender Jacob Baran and goaltender Colin White to provide the spark necessary for Palatine to advance to the semifinal round.









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