Crusaders top Mustangs in slugfest

  • Written by Steve Millar


Pettis' three RBIs, defensive plays by Peyton and Doligale lead Rice into sectional final

By Steve Millar

In a game in which 26 combined runs were scored, two of the biggest plays for Brother Rice came on the defensive side Thursday against St. Rita.

Sophomore catcher Joey Peyton’s pickoff throw and junior right fielder Danny Doligale’s throw to nail a runner at the plate helped the Crusaders hold on for a wild 15-11 win over the Mustangs in a Class 4A St. Laurence Sectional semifinal.

Brother Rice (26-12) advanced to take on Mount Carmel, 18-5 winners over St. Laurence on Wednesday, in Saturday’s sectional final.

After trailing 9-2, St. Rita (21-17) cut the deficit to 9-7 and had runners at the corners in the fifth innings when Peyton caught a runner leaning off third base, picking him off to end the inning.

The Mustangs’ Brendan Carrane then led off the sixth with a triple and Jalen Greer followed with a potential sacrifice fly, but Doligale nailed Carrane at the plate with a laser of a throw to keep the lead at two.

“I wasn’t really getting it done with the bat, so I had to find a way to contribute to the team,” Doligale said. “Doing it defensively is always good. Going in full-steam ahead and throwing someone out is fun.”

The clutch throw turned the tide back in the Crusaders’ favor.

“I thought Danny’s throw changed the game,” Brother Rice coach John McCarthy said. “I felt like momentum was going the other way. That’s what the playoffs are all about. You have to make special plays. He did that.”

The Crusaders rode the momentum into the bottom of the sixth, when they put up six runs to open a 15-7 lead. Jacob Koos delivered a pinch-hit two-run single in the inning, Kendall Pettis produced an RBI single and Mike Bolton drove in a run with a triple.

Pettis, an Oklahoma recruit, capped a huge day. The leadoff hitter went 5-for-5 with a double, four singles and three RBIs.

Pettis said it was the first five-hit game of his career.

“I’ve been struggling lately, but over the last couple days I worked a lot, made sure I got some swings in and it definitely helped,” Pettis said. “I’m glad I did that.”

Bolton, Dillan Fike (3-for-3) and Ryan Maher all drove in a pair of runs for the Crusaders.

St. Rita did not go down without a fight, scoring four runs in the seventh.

David Gleaves and Mike Skoraczewski drew bases-loaded walks, Carrane drove in a run with a single and Greer was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and make it 15-11.

The Mustangs had the bases loaded with one out but Ryan Palmblad, Brother Rice’s fourth pitcher of the inning retired the final two hitters to earn the save.

Palmblad struck out Bobby Atkinson to end the game.

Jake Zylman homered and drove in two runs, while Mike Botthoff had a two-run single for St. Rita.

“When we got together going to the top of the seventh, we said ‘Let’s lay it out there and see what happens,’” St. Rita coach John Nee said. “We talk about trying to find a way to get the tying run to the plate and we did that with our three and four hitters at the plate. I’ll take that any day.”


Boys Lacrosse Playoffs: RedHawks comeback falls short against Wolfpack

  • Written by Steve Millar


By Steve Millar

Marist boys lacrosse coach Chaas Collins knew his team would fight until the final whistle of Monday’s St. Laurence Sectional quarterfinal against St. Ignatius.

The attitude of this team has been consistent all year,” Collins said. “Their resiliency is uncanny to any team I’ve ever coached. It doesn’t matter if they’re down one or down five, they’re going to battle through and through. “

Down 9-5 early in the third quarter, the host RedHawks fought back to tie the game, but came up just short as their season ended with an 11-10 loss to the Wolfpack.

Sophomore Jameel Mukarram scored five goals to lead fourth-seeded Marist (12-5), while junior Nick Rubino added two goals.

We knew we wanted to give everything we’ve got,” Mukarram said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but we still got a ‘W’ in our minds because we worked hard and played so well as a team.”

Fifth-seeded St. Ignatius (5-13) outscored the RedHawks 4-1 in the second quarter to take an 8-5 lead to halftime and extended it to 9-5 early in the third.

Marist, though, rallied as Mukarram and Rubino scored to make it 9-7 going to the fourth.

After senior Spencer Henderson scored to cut the deficit to one, Mukarram found the net again to tie it 9-9 with 5:58 to go.

Mukarram followed an Ignatius goal with yet another score to make it 10-10 with 3:37 to go, but the Wolfpack’s Sam Madura scored the game-winner with 1:25 to go.

Marist got a couple shots in the final minute but could not connect on the game-tying goal.

Senior Tristan Ach and sophomore Alex Menendez scored first-half goals for Marist, while Justin Marshall made six saves.

Despite falling short, Ach said the RedHawks had plenty to be proud of.

All year, we believe we outworked everybody,” Ach said. “In this game, we started slow, but we battled back. We did everything we could to win that game. We left it all out on the field.

I feel like we had a really successful season. We brought it all together and we peaked at the end of the year. We played our best lacrosse tonight.”

Ach will continue his lacrosse career at Transylvania University in Kentucky.

I’m pumped,” he said. “I’m excited to play at the next level. I’m ready to close this chapter and get to work on the next one.”

Ach feels he’s leaving Marist’s program in good hands. Ach, Henderson and Kevin O’Halloran were the only seniors on the RedHawks’ roster.

These guys are really young and they’re really hard-working,” Ach said. “It’s limitless what they can do next year.”

Mukarram said the RedHawks expect to come back stronger in 2019.

I think next year teams are going to watch out for Marist when they see us on their schedule,” he said. “They’re going to know we’re a hard-fighting team.

We’re going to do a lot of work in the offseason, form something good for next year and surprise people.”


Stagg goalie Downs comes up big in shootout

  • Written by Steve Millar


Chargers top Warriors on PKs, advance to sectional final

By Steve Millar

Stagg goalkeeper Sydney Downs goes into every penalty-kick shootout with the goal of making one save.

I have faith in our shooters,” Downs said. “I go into them hoping to just stop one.”

In Tuesday night’s Class 3A Reavis Sectional semifinal, Downs did far more than that. The senior came up with three huge saves as the Chargers outlasted Lincoln-Way West 5-4 in an eight-round shootout to earn a 2-1 victory.

Sydney is very reliable,” Stagg coach Allison Kaim said. “We know she’s going to come up big because she’s done it for us before.”

Stagg (18-3-1) advanced to take on Andrew in the sectional final set for 4 p.m. Friday, May 25.

While the Chargers’ shooters had a tough time in the first five rounds of the shootout, Downs kept her team alive with the three stops.

She twice dove to her left to knock away shots. She stepped up big as Stagg was chasing through most of the first five rounds after falling behind when its first shot was turned away.

When we got behind, that definitely puts more pressure on me,” Downs said. “I just try not to think about what the score is. I act like it’s 0-0 all the time and just focus on stopping each shot.”

In the eighth round, Lincoln-Way West (11-8-1) missed, setting up Stagg’s Ally Mussallem for a chance to win it. Mussallem, a Purdue recruit, fired wide on a penalty kick in the first half, but she redeemed herself by rolling a shot that tucked just under diving Warriors goalkeeper Grace Pearse.

I was a little shaky because I normally don’t miss,” Mussallem said. “When I missed wide, I didn’t know what was going on.

I had to do it for my team, though. Syd came up huge. We wouldn’t have won this game without her.”

Kaim was happy to see her star player come up big.

It was great redemption for Ally,” Kaim said. “It was good for her to step up and be able to take that shot. Sometimes it’s difficult to have two PKs within the same game, but she was able to put that second one in and that was awesome.

Agnes Lojek, Faith Marinier, Eilis Hannon and Maja Persa also scored in the shootout for Stagg.

In regulation, the Chargers broke through with 21:24 left in the second half when Veronika Stafira lofted a floating shot over Pearse’s head off a cross from Mussallem.

Lincoln-Way West, though, came right back. The Warriors tied it just 41 seconds later when Angela Skonicki headed in Sara Loichinger’s cross.

Chances were limited for both teams the rest of the way until Mussallem ripped a shot off the crossbar with two minutes left in the first overtime.

It was a good game to watch,” Kaim said. “West definitely put up a fight. They didn’t quit. It was a tough game for both teams.”


Girls Lacrosse: Mighty Macs explode for 12 second-half goals, bury St. Francis

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

By Jon DePaolis

Headed into halftime with just a one-goal lead over St. Francis, Mother McAuley girls lacrosse coach Ann Piejko knew her team needed to alter its defensive scheme.

We adjusted our strategy a little bit,” Piejko said. “We played a different defense, called the backer — which not many teams play anymore. We also just weren’t used to it, so we needed halftime to readjust and figure it out, which I think we did.”

The Mighty Macs not only upped their defensive pressure but they also dominated on offense, laying siege to the St. Francis defensive zone en route to a 15-4 victory on Saturday, April 21.

In the first half, the Mighty Macs relied on sophomore Abbey Murphy, who scored three of her game-high five goals in the opening stanza.

Get used to it … she’s fun to watch,” Piejko said of Murphy. “Abbey just got back from Russia. She’s an amazing hockey player who scored two of the three winning goals on the U.S. U18 team.”

Murphy’s effort was enough to give her team a narrow 3-2 lead headed into intermission.

We had a game last night, too, and a really tough game coming up, so we rested a few of our key players in the first half — knowing in the second half that we could turn it around,” Piejko said.

St. Francis tied the game early in the second half with a goal by Beth Weizeorick ( two goals) with 22:49 left in the game.

But from there, the Mighty Macs went on two huge runs — a 4-1 spree to retake the lead, and an 8-0 blitz over the last 11 minutes of the game to leave with the double-digit victory.

What I’m a huge fan of is that after the first half, a lot more assists were handed out, which is harder to do,” Piejko said. “You have a greater risk every time you kind of thread the needle in the eight. We were kind of trying to do things we needed to work on as a team, with moving the season forward.”

The Mighty Macs’ offense was more spread out in second half, with Murphy and eight other Mighty Macs players scoring goals.

The Mighty Macs improved to .500 on the season (5-5 record) with the win. The victory was preceded the day before by a 13-4 blowout win over the District 230 co-op in Orland Park.

Seventh hit batsman gives Rice win over Loyola

  • Written by Jason Maholy

By Jon DePaolis

In a topsy turvy, back-and-forth game, Brother Rice continued to show its mettle, coming back from large deficits multiple times to beat Loyola Academy 13-12 on a walk-off hit batsman.

A four-run seventh inning ended with Crusaders left fielder Mike Bolton getting plunked with the bases loaded to bring home in the winning run. And while Bolton was the guy who took one for the team to conclude an unlikely comeback from what was at one time an eight-run deficit, the hero of the game batted earlier in the inning.

Rice's Danny Doligale stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter with runners at the corners and no outs, with Loyola leading 12-10 after a throwing error by the third baseman allowed a run to score. On the first pitch to Doligale, a passed ball allowed the runner at first to get to second, putting two runners in scoring position. Doligale and the Crusaders capitalized on the Ramblers' defensive lapses by hit a slow-rolling, seeing-eye grounder that found a gap between the first and second basemen, allowing both runners to score and tying the game at 12.

I just looked for something early in the count,” Doligale said. “It was a new pitcher, so I was going to see a healthy amount of fastballs. I was looking for a good fastball to hit, and that’s what I got. It’s a really great feeling — something you dream about.”

From there, an infield single by Dillan Fike moved Doligale to second, and Brett Selke reached on another Loyola throwing error on a bad-hop grounder to loaded the bases with just one out. Bolton (2-for-4, two RBI, two runs) was then plunked — the seventh Crusaders batter to be hit by a pitch in the game — setting off a celebration at first base.

The comeback victory was well-earned. At various points of the game, the Loyola led 10-2, 11-7 and 12-9, the latter at the start of the final inning.

I just think we’re a team with a lot of senior leadership and a lot of resilience,” Doligale said. “We’ve faced a lot of deficits this year and come back from a lot of them. I think that makes us stronger. Hopefully, though, we’ll get some early leads, and put some teams away.”

Brother Rice coach John McCarthy also credited his team’s resolve, especially after falling behind 10-2 in the fourth inning after a five-run rally by the Ramblers.

I just think [we] competed until the end, and that’s all you can ask,” McCarthy said. “You’ve got to fight and fight, and take blows and give blows back. It’s a tribute to who they are, and I’m proud of them and their resiliency and ability to handle adversity.

I think it all boils down to not giving up. I thought they did a good job of battling and not getting caught up in the scoreboard. [That] can throw you off at times, but you’ve just got to compete. I thought they did a good job of just controlling what you can control.”

McCarthy also credited Doligale for his clutch at-bat.

It says a lot about Danny,” McCarthy said. “I was really happy for him. He’s battled adversity, and to just see him come through when we needed to have it was huge.”

The Crusaders also got contributions from center fielder Kendall Pettis (2-for-3, two walks, two RBI, two runs), Patrick Hayes (1-for-3, RBI, two runs) and Jack Payton (1-for-2, two runs). Payton was also thrice hit by pitches.

With the win, the Crusaders improved to 15-5 on the season. Doligale believes their record, along with their ability to come back later against teams, shows what the Crusaders are capable of this year.

I think we’re one of the best teams in the state, and I think we’re going to be able to prove that for the rest of the season,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

Rice headed into the contest against Loyola riding a three-game win streak that began with a 9-3 victory over Lockport. Ryan Palmblad improved to 3-3, going five innings while allowing three runs on three hits and striking out four. Jack Payton contributed to the cause with a home run and three RBI, Dylan Fike was 2-for-4 with two RBI and Kendall Pettit was 4-for-4 with a run.

The Crusaders then swept St. Francis in a doubleheader on April 19. In the 12-1 win in Game 1, Pettit, Mike Bolton and Brandon Mahoney each had a hit and two RBI, with Pettit also scoring three runs. Zack Litke was the victor, throwing three innings of no-hit ball to move to 3-0.

Ryan Maher had a huge game in the nightcap, belting a grand slam and driving in five runs in a 7-6 victory. Sam Jones doubled twice, scored twice and drove in a run to back winning pitcher Eli Sweiss, who allowed three runs on five hit over three innings while improving to 4-1. Marquis Jackson earned his third save.



The Chargers begin this week at 9-4 after a 12-5 win over Westmont last Saturday, April 21. Mike Tobin went 4-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI and a run scored, Mike Abraham had two hits, two RBI and run, and Luke Goral had three hits, two RBI and a run. Zach Vrbancic, Danny Russo and Mike Kaunas each drove in a run, and Vrbancic scored three times.

Tobin, Goral and Vrbancic also provided the muscle in a 6-3 win over Lincoln-Way Central on April 20. Tobin had three hits including a double, three RBI and a run, Goral was 4-for-4 with a triple and two RBI, and Vrbancic had three hits and scored twice. Garrett Wolan went the distance, allowing seven hits and walking none.


Evergreen Park

Reavis topped the Mustangs, 9-7, to drop Evergreen Park to 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the South Suburban Conference heading into play this week. Billy Miller was 2-for-3 with two RBI.



The Astros split a doubleheader with South Suburban Conference rival Eisenhower, dropping Game 1, 8-2, and winning Game 2, 12-0 in five innings. Eric Bruesch tossed a one-hitter in the victory. Shepard entered this week 6-9 overall, 3-4 in the SSC.