Although St. Laurence finished just 5-12-3 in 2013, first-year coach Matt Prunckle felt pressure to win right away when he accepted the job.
“Taking over, I definitely felt like we should win this year,” Prunckle said. “We have a senior-heavy team with a lot of talent, and I was confident we had a team that could win a lot of games.”
Prunckle, who was an All-State player at Brother Rice and went on to play at St. Xavier, thus far has succeeded in his attempt at a quick turnaround.
The Vikings, who were 6-3-2 entering Tuesday’s game against Mount Carmel, have established themselves as top contenders in the Catholic League South. All after dropping their first two games of the season.
“Our work rate has really improved since the beginning of the season,” Prunckle said. “It’s one thing we really stressed all summer, getting ready for the year. We’re playing four freshmen and two sophomores a majority of the time, so we have a mix of seniors and young guys. They’re all starting to buy in now.”
Senior Michael McLaughlin has led the way with 17 goals.
“This year has been a big step up for us,” McLaughlin said.
Fun in 1A
Seeds for the Class 1A playoffs were released last week, and Illinois Lutheran’s huge win over Manteno helped the Twin Valley champion Chargers earn the top seed in the Manteno Regional. The hosts are seeded second and Beecher third.
Chicago Christian also is a top seed, in the regional it hosts.
Search for stability
The theme for the 2014 season in the Southland so far has been chaos. A big win followed by a puzzling loss has been a typical pattern for most of the area’s squads.
While the parity should make for exciting conference races and a wild postseason, it’s led to some frustration for local coaches.
Argo coach John Gaytan has been one of many coaches searching for consistency. The Argonauts have big wins over Eisenhower and Shepard, but have suffered tough losses as well, falling to Kennedy, Cristo Rey, Bremen and Bloom.
“We have one game where we play very well and then the next game we don’t play well,” Gaytan said. “When we put together a consistent full game, we’re tough to beat, but we need to have that consistency.”
Chris Beal, coach of defending SouthWest Suburban Blue champ Lockport, also has been looking for more dependability from his team.
“Sometimes we come out and just lack focus and effort a little bit,” he said. “We have trouble scoring. We want to put it all together for the playoffs because we really want to make a deep run this year.”
Player of the Week
Jacob Lysik, of Lincoln-Way Central, is the SouthtownStar Player of the Week.
Lysik, a senior forward, recorded 11 goals and five assists over four games, all Knights victories. He had hat tricks against Illiana Christian, Joliet Central and H-F.