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
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
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.