PARK RIDGE — Fans of Maine South boys soccer may have forgotten how talented a player the Hawks have in junior attacker Tino Lappo.
After playing on the sophomore team as a freshman, Lappo skipped the 2012 high school season in order to play with the Chicago Magic club.
Lappo also missed a handful of games early this season with a quad injury.
But on Sept. 10, Lappo reminded everyone what they had been missing, scoring a hat trick in a 6-0 demolition of rival Maine East. Maine South improved to 7-1 with the win.
“He didn’t play for us last year, but it’s nice to have him back in our midst. It’s another effective tool we can use within our squad,” Maine South coach Dan States said. “Tino has been a little banged up and he’s just starting to get back into the flow again.”
Lappo opened the scoring 3:19 into the contest with a shot from outside the box. He whirled and scored from the top of the box shortly before the break. In the second half, he tapped in a cross from junior Michael Banas for the team’s fourth goal.
Lappo said it was nice to be back wearing a Hawks jersey.
“It was tough making a decision (to play for the Magic), but it’s a good club. I did miss high school soccer,” Lappo said. “After last season, I talked to all the boys to see what they thought (about me coming back) and they all accepted me back. I appreciated that a lot. They are a big help for me.”
Lappo said he already was comfortable playing with the team’s seniors because many had been his teammates on the sophomore team in 2011.
A striker for the Magic, Lappo said playing up top is his preferred position. It’s where his soccer hero, Argentine star Diego Milito, plays for Inter Milan, which happens to be Lappo’s favorite team. Lappo wears Milito’s No. 22.
However, States has made it clear he’s going to deploy Lappo in various positions this season.
Against Maine East, Lappo started wide on the left, but also found himself playing in the creative role behind the strikers and at forward.
“Wherever coach wants me to play … I’m comfortable at any position like that,” Lappo said.
States said he likes Lappo’s skill and his versatility.
“He’s quick on the ball, has a nice quick release on his shot, which makes him real dangerous anywhere around the (penalty) area,” States said. “We’re using (Lappo) in some different places than he’s accustomed to with the Magic. We get him up (top), we move him on the flank to free up some space for him and we even use him in the center of the park. He was effective in all three spots (versus Maine East). It was a good night for him.”
Maine South sophomore defender Brendan Faley said Lappo is one of several scoring threats on this year’s Hawks squad.
“We’re happy to have him for some great goals,” Faley said. “To me, that’s the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team, we have some really dynamic goal-scoring threats. We had some great finishes (against Maine East) that really put the game away.”