Lincoln-Way West’s boys soccer program has come a long way in four years of existence. Now, expectations are changing.
With the program established as an annual force, the pieces are in place for the Warriors to reach new heights in 2013.
“We’ve reached the point at West where we can no longer use the excuse that we’re a new school anymore,” coach Jeff Theiss said. “We graduated a class last year that came all the way through and now these guys on the team have been a part of it and some of them are bringing varsity experience since their freshman year.
“Last year, we set the goal to win a regional and we accomplished that. Then we realized, walking off that field against Washington (after a sectional semifinal loss), that it still hurts. Now they’ve set the goal to get to a supersectional this year and give themselves a shot to get to state. I think we have the talent and the experience to do that.”
It starts with seven senior returning starters who will make the Warriors one of the area’s most experienced teams.
Leading the way is four-year varsity performer Ian McGrath, a returning All-Area selection who moves from forward to center midfielder.
“Ian brings everything you’d ask for,” Theiss said. “He has the size. His soccer IQ is on another level and on top of it I think he’s one of the more technical players in the area.”
Tony Prospero returns in goal, while Kevin Staniszewski moves to center defender. Other key seniors include Paul Miller, Kip Pavlovich, Adam Webb and Franco Pettinato.
“All the experience we have helps us tremendously,” Prospero said.
“Everyone knows each other. We have great chemistry. With the addition of some young guys who bring a lot to the table, I think we can have a great season.”
The Warriors finished 14-9-3 last season and went 4-2 in the SouthWest Suburban Red, missing out on a share of a conference title with a shootout loss to Thornton co-op.
It’s that loss and the 2-0 sectional semifinal defeat at the hands of Washington that is motivating them this season.
“Last season was a big step forward,” Staniszewski said. “Now we want to grow on that and win conference and sectionals. If we stay together as a team, work together and move the ball around, we should be all right.”
West will count on sophomores Justin Yaeger, Tim Cucci and Johnny Farrell and juniors Josh Dalhberg and Dan Petrou to step up.
McGrath, who had 10 goals and five assists last season, thinks the Warriors have plenty of weapons.
“We’ve got a good group of guys out here,” he said. “I trust in every single one of these guys. I’m excited because I know we can have a great season.”