First impressions of Class 3A state tournament bracket

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Time waits for no one. The boys’ fall soccer season is a blur. In the time it takes to get a handle on the sport, it is over. With just a little over a week left in the regular season, it is worthwhile to look at the seedings of the Class 3A state tournament, issued last week.

The small schools Class 1A tournament is the first weekend in Normal, at the Corn Crib.

The Class 2A and Class 3A finals have been shifted to Hoffman Estates after availability complications with former host school, Lincoln-Way North, in Frankfort.

Of late, the west suburban sectional winner typically was matched with the central or southern Illinois or downstate sectional winner. This year, the west suburban winner, hosted this year by Metea Valley, matches up with the Hinsdale South sectional winner.

As noted in today’s paper, the Hinsdale South sectional, dubbed by some coaches “the death sectional,” is headlined by four of our top-seven rated schools: top-ranked Hinsdale Central (No. 1 seed), No. 4 Morton (2), No. 6 Benet (3) and No. 7 Lyons (4).

Anything is possible, though it seems unlikely we are going to experience what happened last year when the same field was at Argo, a series of upsets in the regionals that saw Fenwick (which is now in Class 2A) stun Hinsdale Central in the sectional final.

Naperville Center, ranked No. 12 this week after its loss to Lake Park, has reached the state title game the last two years. At first glance, the Metea Valley sectional is a bit down, compared to previous editions. Naperville North, the No. 2 seed, has dropped out of the rankings for the first time this year after going 0-3-1 in its last four games.

Outside of the Redhawks, the teams worth watching here are No. 19 Batavia (3 seed) and Plainfield North (4).

The winner of Metea Valley and Hinsdale South square off in the supersectional round at Lewis University.

The south suburban sectional, this year at Andrew, matches up the weirdly arranged Joliet West winner, a mash-up of south suburban programs, Quad Cities schools and deep south and southwest programs stitched together, not by geography, linked by the dearth of Class 3A programs south of Joliet. Lockport, defending third-place finisher Sandburg, Lincoln-Way East and Stagg are the top four-seeds at Andrew.

The Andrew and Joliet West winners play at Normal for the supsectional.

The Hersey supersection binds together the winners of sectionals at Evanston and Mundelein. Seedings are a very inexact science, prone to bias, uncertainty and other factors. City power and Pepsi Showdown winner Lane is currently ranked higher by the Sun-Times (No. 2 in the new rankings) than the Evanston sectional, where the defending sectional finalist managed No. 3 seed, behind the host No. 16 Wildkits and No. 5 Wheeling. Making matters more complicated, if the seeds hold, the Indians have to face host New Trier, a No. 6 seed, on their own field.

At Mundelein, No. 8 Barrington is the top seed, followed by defending state champion Warren, No. 14 St. Viator (which just beat Evanston) and Hersey. Lake Forest, who carry a six-game win streak into its game with Lakes Thursday night, is the fifth seed. Speaking of St. Viator, coach Mike Taylor was very critical of the process where the Lions were bumped up a class (in part because larger enrollment schools received a waiver). The Lions go from being a favorite in Class 2A to facing a daunting bracket to get out of the sectional.

At the top of the bracket, the Bartlett supersectional pits the winner of Schaumburg and Huntley sectionals. At Schaumburg, top-seed and No. 3 St. Charles East is the clear favorite there, followed by No. 11 Lake Park and a dangerous Elk Grove team. Otherwise, it is a top-heavy field. Like Joliet West, Huntley is a four regional quadrant, the most stunning and questionable development is undefeated No. 10 Dundee-Crown earning a No. 3 regional seed (the equivalent of a 9-12 sectional seed) at Streamwood. Larkin, a team hovering at .500, is the No. 2 seed there.

The Bartlett and Hersey supersectional qualifiers meet in the first state semifinal on Nov. 8th. The Lewis and Normal winners face off in the second semifinal.

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