Granted, every coach and player would prefer a plaque of the postseason variety, but that doesn’t mean winning tournament hardware doesn’t make a nice addition to the trophy case, not to mention the mental boost.
“There’s no question it’s been a real positive,” Dundee-Crown coach Reynaldo Vargas said after his Chargers claimed the Lake Forest North Shore Shootout. “We’ve been going up there for several years and to win it, let our guys know right away that we’re right up there with the likes of a Waukegan or Highland Park.”
Now in his ninth year as the D-C coach following five years as an assistant, Vargas doesn’t recall any previous Charger squad getting off to an 8-0 start.
Facing a higher level of competition was an incentive for Huntley to get into Lake Park’s 23rd Annual Norm Hillner Classic; winning it is ideal preparation for the postseason, according to coach Kris Grabner.
“Aside from the quality of competition, a tournament has that added pressure of having to win to succeed. We had a great start to the season, then playing a Conant, Buffalo Grove, York or Lake Park really helps you see other teams and styles,” Grabner said.
Area teams bring home hardware
Two other area programs that got to experience flashing “We’re No. 1” while posing with a tournament trophy are St. Edward, which claimed its own Green Wave Invitational, and Elgin, which captured Ridgewood’s LaSallian Cup. In one of the LaSallian matches, the Maroons’ Adan Ramirez registered a hat trick as part of a 9-1 Elgin victory over Northtown.
Speaking of hat tricks, St. Edward’s Joe French had one in leading the Green Wave’s 4-2 triumph over Aurora Central while Aaron Ptak powered Harvest Christian’s 7-0 triumph over the Geneva JV team as part of the Green Wave Invite.
Burlington Central is red hot
Burlington Central is also off to another stellar start at 7-1 and got a “hatter” from Alan Camarena in a 4-1 victory over Yorkville during DeKalb’s Barb Cup action. However, the Rockets’ Brett Rau had a career scoring effort over the weekend with seven goals in an 8-0 Big Northern Conference victory over North Boone.
The rest of the story is that Rau had been in goal for Central’s previous seven contests, but made the most of a rare starting chance in the field. His seven strikes now match him with Camarena for the team lead in goals scored.
When it comes to quick starts off the whistle, Genoa-Kingston had an impressive showing in a 6-0 victory over Indian Creek. The Cogs scored 18 seconds into the match when Tommy Hansen used Juan Lechuga’s assist pass. Lechuga needed just 13 seconds into the second half to strike off a set-up by Uriel Ortega.
From the better-late-than-never department, St. Edward managed a 2-2 draw against Rockford East with 47 seconds left in regulation thanks to a goal by Joe Martell from teammates Kevin Bardan and Austin Pfeiffer.