Boys Soccer: Sandburg ready for good turn at state
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media October 31, 2012 9:18PM
Sandburg's Kevin Kroll. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
All matches at Lincoln-Way North High School, Frankfort
Peoria Notre Dame (20-2-2) vs. Wheaton Academy (21-6), 11 a.m.
St. Viator (20-3-3)
vs. Urbana (20-2), 1 p.m.
vs. Warren (19-5-3), 5 p.m.
Stevenson (18-4-1) vs.
Naperville Central (22-1), 7 p.m.
Class 2A third-place match, 11 a.m.
Class 2A championship, 1 p.m.
Class 3A third-place match, 5 p.m.
Class 3A championship, 7 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2012 1:56PM
Sandburg was the top seed in its sectional in 2011, but saw its playoff dreams dashed in a hurry with a 2-1 loss to No. 17 seed Providence in the Eagles’ postseason opener.
Fast forward to 2012, a year of redemption for Sandburg.
Again rewarded with the top seed in the Class 3A Lincoln-Way Central Sectional, the Eagles stormed through their first four playoff matches without allowing a goal.
Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win over Fenwick in the Benedictine University Supersectional has the Eagles in the state’s final four.
“We had such a chip on our shoulders coming into the playoffs this year,” senior midfielder Zack Biel said. “It’s just a great feeling to get here.”
Sandburg (18-5-3), which has clinched its first state trophy since the 2002 team won the state title, will make its first state appearance since 2005 when it meets Warren in a semifinal scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Lincoln-Way North.
Warren (19-5-3), which finished fourth in the state last season, has scored 22 goals in five playoff matches and figures to be a strong test for the stingy Sandburg defense.
The Blue Devils are led by All-State midfielder Daniel Szczepanek (13 goals, 23 assists).
“We’ll just have to practice hard, listen to our coaches on the scouting report and just go out there and play another game with a lot of heart and energy,” Biel said.
The other semifinal will feature tournament favorite Naperville Central (22-1), last season’s runner-up, and surprising Stevenson (18-4-1), making its first final four appearance.
Speaking of surprises, few likely predicted Sandburg would get to state, given its supersectional draw against the winner of the loaded Argo Sectional, which Fenwick survived.
That could be because of a perceived lack of star power. Although Biel (25 goals, 16 assists) was named All-State, Sandburg has won as a team.
Kevin Kroll (16 goals, 13 assists) has been a major weapon at forward, while goalie Adam Zehme and defender Peter Gertos have anchored a defense that’s posted 14 shutouts.
“We don’t have any big names,” Sandburg coach Desi Vuillaume said. “I think that speaks to how good of a team we are. They all contribute and have a role.”
The Eagles have their sights set on the program’s fourth state title. Redemption, though, already has been earned.
“We weren’t going to let people make fun of us for losing early in the playoffs again,” Kroll said.
“We’ve been playing together our whole lives, and our dream was to get to state. I couldn’t have done it without these guys. They’re amazing.”