According to Lincoln-Way West coach Jeff Theiss, the Warriors’ 2013 season will be remembered for, more than anything, the fun the squad had.
“This group was pumped up for 7 a.m. practices,” Theiss said. “They were pumped up for practices on rainy days. They were just so excited to play. That’s what really carried us this season. As a coach, they even boosted my energy. Their excitement rubbed off. They were a really fun group to be around.”
West advanced to the state’s Sweet Sixteen for the first time before falling 4-0 to Washington in the Class 2A Lincoln-Way West Sectional final.
For the Warriors, a key part of their postseason success was the ability of forwards Franco Pettinato and Josh Dahlberg to play on the back line after West was hit with injuries to its defense.
“We moved Franco to outside back and he stepped up big,” Theiss said. “Same with Dahlberg back there, too. They made a big difference. We lost four straight matches after we had some injuries back there, but those guys were able to pull our defense together.”
West will have to replace seven senior starters, including All-State midfielder Ian McGrath, but Dahlberg, junior midfielder Dan Petrou and sophomore midfielders Justin Yaeger and Zak Pavlovich should form a talented core.
Who are some teams to watch in 2014? Expect Plainfield North to have another great season, and Lincoln-Way West and Minooka have the pieces in place to reload quickly.
More off the radar, look for Lincoln-Way Central to bounce back with a strong season. Jacob Lysik and Tyler Massa anchored a strong junior class this season.
Romeoville, which was led this season by sophomore Christian Duarte and junior Jason Silvar, should contend for the Southwest Prairie title next season after finishing second this year.
Morris’ Ricardo Del Toro and Lemont’s Teddy Trifunovski are among the individual standouts to watch in 2014.
Player of the Week
Kyle Sparks, of Minooka, is the Herald-News Boys Soccer Player of the Week.
Sparks, a freshman midfielder, helped the Indians reach the Class 3A Joliet West Sectional final, scoring a goal in both Minooka’s regional final victory over Normal Community and its sectional semifinal win over Moline.