Chicago Sun-Times
By Patrick Z. McGavin

Past and present about to collide

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The interim between the end of the boys' season and the start of the girls is now officially over. The first formal girls' games start a week from Monday.

More on the girls' season start a little later, but a cursory look suggests a memorable year is forthcoming, with defending Class 3A state champion Naperville North returning virtually its entire roster and powerhouse programs Loyola, New Trier, Barrington, Naperville Central and Neuqua Valley also boasting deep and versatile lineups.

Football players dominated the signing period last month. Obviously they were not the only fall sports athletes to make their college choices known. We will be using this space to periodically update signings for the boys' class of 2013.

Class 3A state champion Warren has three players that signed college scholarships. Star Daniel Szczepanek is attending Marquette, and Sean Kirwan and Nick Wegnrzynowicz each accepted offers to play at Eastern Illinois.

Naperville Central, the team Warren beat 2-1 in overtime for the state title, has four players who signed: Player of the Year Pat Flynn is attending DePaul, forward Jack Patrick is also playing at Eastern Illinois, Connor Allen is playing at Marshall University and star keeper Mike Pavliga, first-team All-Area, is set to play at Northern Illinois.

The two players who were instrumental in Fenwick reaching the supersectional, forward Jack Alberts is joining Szczepanek at Marquette. Star keeper Jacob Peterson, who was spectacular in the state tournament, signed with Valparaiso.

Benet's powerhouse 1-2 combination of forward Brad Bozych (America University) and brilliant keeper Kyle DalSanto (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville) also recently revealed their college destinations.

Wheaton Warrenville South's Max Carey is the latest star from the western suburbs who signed with Wheaton College. Please come back here for further updates as they become available.

Next generation: Digital technology and computer radically changed soccer at every level. The vast reams of information that is made available has altered coaching, scouting and preparation. Many boys and girls teams utilize iPads to track mobile data as hard data to review and study in post-game film sessions.

This week, the annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT in Boston, a leading symposium for state of the art, math and computer-based models for studying and comprehending numbers and statistics, a group of leading Norway academics presented a paper on soccer and field vision.

Here is the most interesting extract:

"The purpose of this study was to learn more about the ways that some of the best professional soccer players in the world use visual exploratory behaviors (body and head movements initiated to better see their surroundings) in real-world games and to test the relationships between these behaviors and performance. Close-up video images of individual players were obtained from Sky Sport's split screen PlayerCam broadcasts of 1279 game situations with 118 players (midfielders and forwards) in English Premier League (EPL) soccer games. The results show a clear positive relationship between visual exploratory behaviors that are initiated before receiving the ball and performance with the ball. The best players explore more frequently than others and there is a positive relationship between exploratory behavior frequency and pass completion."

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This page contains a single entry by Patrick Z. McGavin published on March 2, 2013 6:52 PM.

Next best for all-area teams was the previous entry in this blog.

Other teams and players to watch is the next entry in this blog.

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