The boys side of this year’s PepsiCo Showdown begins with first-round play Saturday morning at the three soccer fields at Lyons’ soccer complex on its west campus in LaGrange.
Several of the Sun-Times’ current top 20 programs are represented. Morton (No. 3), New Trier (No. 5), Lyons (No. 6), Wheaton Academy (No. 9) and Libertyville (No. 12) make up the top seeds, 1-5, respectively.
Other ranked participants are No. 15 Streamwood and No. 18 Lake Zurich.
Last year Lane became the first Public League team to capture the tournament. The Indians, currently unranked, own impressive victories over suburban programs Maine West, Oak Park-River Forest and Highland Park. Lane is the seventh seed.
Here is the official bracket, with tournament seed in parentheses:
(1) Morton vs. Plainfield East
(16) Kelly vs. Deerfield
(9) Lake Zurich vs. Glenbrook North
(8) Larkin vs. East Aurora
(4) Wheaton Academy vs. Downers North
(13) Oak Park-River Forest vs. St. Viator
(12) Streamwood vs. Niles West
(5) Libertyville vs. Oswego
(6) St. Charles North vs. Young
(11) West Chicago vs. Lockport
(14) Washington vs. WW South
(3) Lyons vs. Minooka
(7) Lane vs. Plainfield Central
(10) Metea Valley vs. Leyden
(15) Maine West vs. Wheaton North
(2) New Trier vs. Solorio
In the winners’ bracket, second-round play is set for Tuesday, with the higher-seeded program hosting. The quarterfinals are Thursday, with home site determined by seed and whether or not the two competing programs have previously hosted.
The semifinals return to Lyons next Saturday.
In the upper bracket, Public League power Kelly opened the year getting blasted by top-ranked St. Charles East, but has reeled off six consecutive wins. Lake Zurich beat a very good Barrington side in finishing runner-up at the Broncos’ invitational last week. Glenbrook North tied New Trier in a game earlier this week. Larkin and East Aurora know each other very well from Upstate Eight play.
Wheaton Academy has not been tested in winning its first six games. The No. 9 Warriors showcase one of the state’s most prolific scorers in junior forward Ty Seager. Oak Park-River Forest is better than its record. Coach Paul Wright is aiming at the tournament for the team to come together and find its rhythm. Streamwood has an imposing backline and talented goalkeeper. Libertyville won the tournament three years ago, and is a clear threat.
In the bottom bracket, Solorio has an unenviable open-round assignment with New Trier. Solorio had a great showing a year ago, suggesting a history of stepping up to higher quality programs. Maine West vs. Wheaton North also looks to be one of the best first-round games. The Falcons, led by forward Dan Norton, have speed and skill in the front of their attack and a strong defense.
Check back over the weekend for updates.