One thing about soccer, once the season starts, it goes by in a blur.
The regular season has only a couple of more weeks. The Public League and other conferences are gearing up for their postseason tournaments.
The IHSA just published the seedings and assignments for the Class 2A and Class 3A state tournament. The most interesting development is the historically strong near-west suburban sectional. Last year, Hinsdale Central was the host and eventual Class 3A champion Morton endured a gauntlet in beating Lyons in double-overtime and a very good Oak Park-River Forest team that fueled their championship run.
An already loaded field is ridiculously deep this year with the inclusion of Benet. The Redhawks secured the No. 3 seed there, behind No. 1 Morton and No. 2 Lyons. As their Pepsi Showdown game proved last Sunday, those two stand with Naperville Central as the best three teams in the western suburbs.
Nobody is hotter than the Red Devils. Their 3-2 victory over Lyons last week was overshadowed by the Pepsi Showdown championship the following day. Lyons in fact created their own narrative when they beat Morton and ended their 24-game winning streak.
Hinsdale Central is 11-1-1 in their last 13 games. They also beat Sandburg, the No. 1 seed at Lincoln-Way Central, 1-0, on Friday. Morton, St. Ignatius (No. 4 seed), Downers South and Hinsdale South are the regional hosts.
The other curious thing, whether it is political or not, is seeing how damaging the recent Chicago Teachers' Union strike was to the seedings. Six of the eight lowest-seeded teams at Argo are Public League programs, including two very good teams, Young and Kelly.
If anything, that could create some very intriguing opening round games and only increase the potential for upsets. "We finished third in the state in 1994, and this year's team is just as good. We are going to shock some people," Kelly coach Stan Mietus said after his team lost to Oak Park-River Forest 2-1.
The seedings also underlie the strength of the toughest conferences, the two divisions of the West Suburban and the two leagues of the Upstate Eight. At York, the top eight seeds either come from the Upstate Eight or West Suburban. St. Charles East, Addison Trail, Larkin and Streamwood are the top four seeds. Watch out for Glenbard West, a tough and skilled team that has also impressed this year.
Because of the travel times involved, the Rockford Auburn sectional is split into four quads: Boylan, Warren, Huntley and in a surprise, Cary-Grove, are the respective No. 1 seeds. Barrington, a regional host, is No. 2, behind Cary-Grove. Like the girls' team last spring, the Broncos have a great incentive. They are hosting the supersectional. They are going to be a very tough out.
At Conant, undefeated Palatine (twice tied) is the top-seed, followed, in order by, Buffalo Grove, Stevenson and Libertyville. The Patriots, who have beaten Warren, are the highest-seeded team to also be regional hosts, and that could give them an edge.
The Conant winner faces the winner of the New Trier sectional at Glenbrook South. Behind Nelson Herrera, Maine West is the No. 1 seed, followed by Maine South, a very good Leyden team and Public League power Lane. (Here's another stark example of how the games missed by the teachers' strike hurt the Public League. Lane beat Leyden in the Pepsi Showdown.) The darkhorse there is No. 9 seed Loyola, a surprisingly low-seed who feature a much improved offensive attack and a very good playmaker in Kevin Francis.
Finally, top-ranked Naperville Central, in an interesting reversal, is the top-seed at West Chicago over their crosstown rival Naperville North. Last year, of course, North put together one of the most dominating runs in the sport only to lose to the Redhawks 1-0 in the sectional final. Next to Argo, this is the deepest sectional. Central, North, the host Wildcats and Neuqua Valley are the top four seeds. Watch for Metea Valley, the eighth-seed though a regional host, who just beat Benet. The other darkhorse is West Aurora, the unlucky No. 13 seed who are coming off a stunning upset of Naperville North.
Up next is a breakdown of Class 2A.