A comprehensive view of boys’ varsity soccer rosters around the state will not typically reveal the presence of five sophomores and a freshman among active players.
And rarely will three of those sophomores play a significant role during their team’s first week of matches.
But that’s exactly what happened for Stagg last week. Sophomores Jeremy Atkinson, Tom Kulak and Matt Angellotti all contributed as the Chargers opened their 2014 season with victories over Whitney Young and Minooka and a tie against Thornton Fractional.
“I’m pretty content with how the first week went,” Stagg coach Mike Kealy said. “It’s a decent way to start, for sure. Of the five goals we scored, all of them were scored by our sophomores. I would say that is very positive for [both] the short and long term.
“Definitely not many teams have that many sophomores, and a freshman, on a varsity roster. At the same time we’re taking it one game at a time because we are definitely going to be tested in [upcoming] matches against some tough opponents.”
In a 2-2 draw with Thornton Fractional last Monday, Atkinson scored both of the Chargers’ goals. The second of those tallies came on a penalty kick with eight minutes left in regulation and briefly put Stagg in front.
The Chargers notched their first victory on Thursday by edging Young 1-0. Kulak notched the lone goal with four minutes to play and netminder Daniel Ciezobka registered eight saves for Stagg.
At Saturday’s Lemont Cup, the Chargers defeated Minooka 2-0 behind scores from Angellotti and Atkinson. Senior Erick Estrada made four saves in garnering the shutout.
“The kids have been working very hard,” Kealy said. “So far, so good, but we definitely have bigger and better things that we want to accomplish.”
And while some might describe the early performances of the Chargers’ sophomores as exceeding expectations, Kealy isn’t surprised.
“I have pretty high expectations for our underclassmen,” he said. “The opportunities are there for them to play and show their talent. So far they’ve done that, but we’ll see where we’re at in a week.”
Stagg was scheduled for matches against Plainfield North and East Aurora in the Lemont Cup this week and Kealy is hoping some more seniors will come to the forefront.
“We’ve talked a lot, obviously, about the youngsters, but your seniors will ultimately carry this team,” Kealy said. “We’ve been preaching that a lot and we’re still looking for more seniors to step into the roles that will carry this team on and off the field.”
Shepard began its season with two wins as it manhandled Palos Heights neighbor Chicago Christian 7-0 last Monday and blanked St. Rita 2-0 on Tuesday.
Senior midfielder Kevin Dusek scored twice in the first six minutes against the Knights, who tied the Astros in the 2013 season-opener and went on to capture a regional title. Christian stayed within reach of Shepard for the next 45 minutes before Edgar Madrigal’s tally off a Corey Williams assist opened the floodgates.
From there the Astros piled on as Mike Kaczmarczyk booted home two goals and Logan Dolehide and Adrian Olivares contributed one apiece. Knights keeper Jim Bruinius stopped eight other on-target shots.
Williams had a goal and netminder Isaac Hernandez recorded his second straight shutout in Tuesday’s whitewash of the Mustangs.
Sandburg also went 2-0 in its first week as it edged Maine South 1-0 and Lemont 2-1 last Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Ryan Kozlowski’s marker, which was set up by Kevin Mahoney, gave the Eagles all the offense they needed to defeat Maine South. Ben Rohder, who sat out the first 25 minutes against the Indians because of an injury, wound up playing the hero’s role as he notched both of Sandburg’s goals in Thursday’s victory.
Rohder’s go-ahead score, which resulted from a cross into the box from Nick Calderon, came with 12 minutes to play in regulation. His first goal was assisted by Kozlowski.
Chicago Christian started its 2014 campaign in solid fashion as it picked up wins over Aurora Central Catholic (146-167 last Tuesday), Marist (160-170 on Wednesday) and Fenton (161-185 on Friday).
Sean Ozinga paced the Knights twice, including as meet medalist (2-over-par 37) versus the RedHawks at Silver Lake Country Club. He shot a 39 opposite the Bison, also at Silver Lake.
Pete Vos (40) was medalist against the Chargers at Phillips Golf Course in Aurora. Right behind him was Nate Kamp, who carded a 41.
Sandburg fired a cumulative 161, four strokes above victorious Lincoln-Way East’s total at last Tuesday’s Homewood-Flossmoor quadrangular at Ravisloe. The Eagles were also runner-up at Saturday’s SouthWest Suburban Conference Classic in Lockport, where their 308 score was three strokes in arrears of the host Porters.
In between those events Sandburg downed Lockport in an SWSC Blue dual 149-167 behind medalist Austin Wojtczak’s even-par 35.
Stagg dropped a 166-193 verdict to Bradley-Bourbonnais in an SWSC crossover last Tuesday at Manteno Golf Course but bounced back to beat Lincoln-Way East 159-172 on Thursday.
Joe Zaremba’s 46 led the way for the Chargers versus the Boilermakers.
Despite Haleigh Biernacki’s medalist score of 47, Stagg fell short of Bradley-Bourbonnais by six strokes (212-218) last Tuesday at Silver Lake South.
Biernacki’s team-best 46 couldn’t save the Chargers on Wednesday, either, as Lincoln-Way East pocketed a 187-209 triumph at Green Garden’s Blue course.
Sandburg kept its winning ways going last Wednesday at The Sanctuary as it topped Lincoln-Way West 159-215 in an SWSC crossover. Frankie Saban led the Eagles’ charge with a nine-hole score of 35.
GIRLS’ CROSS COUNTRY
Chicago Christian (106 points) was third among 11 scoring teams at last Wednesday’s Morris Invitational. Only Seneca (68 points) and LaSalle-Peru (80) were able to better the Knights’ total. Bre Kooiman (20 minutes, 39.4 seconds) and Cassidy VandeKamp (20:44.2) were Christian’s highest finishers in the 2.97-mile race as they claimed the Nos. 7 and 8 positions, respectively.
Nancy Lesnicki’s win at No. 1 singles helped Shepard roll over Hillcrest 5-0 in a South Suburban Conference crossover event last Thursday.