Greetings to the impassioned and very learned followers of boys and girls soccer in the Chicago Sun-Times
Patrick Z. McGavin here. My predecessor, Ben Meyer-Abbott, originated this blog last year during the girls season. Ben has shifted permanently to the news side, and I've inherited the beat.
Here's a quick rundown of our top 10:
1. Naperville North
4. Neuqua Valley
5. East Aurora
6. Lake Zurich
7. Crystal Lake South
8. St. Charles North
9. Oak Park-River Forest
10. New Trier
Others: Warren, Morton, Larkin, Stagg, Benet, Niles West, Naperville Central, Glenbrook North, Deerfield, Evanston.
Before going forward, for proper context it's probably instructive to take a quick review of last year.
Lisle defeated Peoria Christian 1-0 to capture the Class 1A state championship. Peoria
Notre Dame smashed Ridgewood 8-0 for the Class 2A title.
Rockford Boylan defeated Libertyville 3-2 in double overtime for the Class 3A title. St. Charles North was the only team to defeat Boylan last year.
Libertyville edged Naperville North 3-2 in double overtime in a Class 3A semifinal.
These were Ben's final rankings (with records in parenthesis) last year.
1. Libertyville (21-4-2)
2. Naperville North (21-4-2)
3. Lyons (22-2-2)
4. Neuqua Valley (16-4-3)
5. Morton (21-4-3)
6. Downers North (17-5-2)
7. Fremd (17-3-2)
8. East Aurora (17-3-4)
9. Crystal Lake South (21-2-2)
10. Oak Park (15-5-3)
Others: Benet, Downers Grove South, Glenbard South, Highland Park, Hinsdale Central, Leyden, Round Lake, St. Viator, Stagg, Warren
One thing I noticed immediately about the sport, which is quite breathtaking, is that coaches are not afraid to schedule difficult teams at the start. Already, Naperville North has played at Morton, St. Charles North beat East Aurora on the road, Neuqua Valley and Lyons played to a 1-1 tie Saturday and Naperville North and Neuqua Valley battle in the opening game of the Best of the West Tournament, a sterling field that begins Aug. 29th at Naperville North and Naperville Centr.
Just as the start of basketball is marked by the Thanksgiving tournaments, the soccer season kicks into high gear with a number of top-flight tournaments, including Best of the West, Lake Park's Lancer Classic, Hinsdale Central's Red Devil Cup, Evanston and Barrington.
It's already been a great start. By the looks of things, it only promises to get better.