Boys soccer: Suburban Life 2023 season preview capsules

York’s Jayden Waski (22) gets control of the ball away from Elgin’s Geo Catalan (12) in the first half of the 3A Boys Soccer Supersectional at Streamwood High School on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

The 2023 boys soccer season starts this week. Here are previews of teams from around the Suburban Life coverage area.


Coach: Matt Klosterman (first season)

Last season’s record: 15-5-1, 7-1 East Suburban Catholic, first place

Top returners: Matt Benka, sr., MF; Drew Connell, sr., GK; Drew Fieldman, sr., D; Nick Nirtaut, sr., D; Jack Kuelthau, jr., MF; Nick Roe, sr., D; Sam Trunnell, sr., D; Jack Walsh, sr., D

Key newcomers: Jack Wesley, fr., MF; Mateo Picha, so., F, Abdalla Alattar, sr., F; Brendan Bergnach, jr., F; Alex Farsalas, sr., MF

Worth noting: Roe is the main returnee on a talented team with high expectations. The Loyola-Chicago recruit is among the top players in the area. “I’m really excited to be part of a program with such an amazing tradition in soccer,” Klosterman said. “Seeing how many versatile, talented, hardworking and unselfish players are in this group helps me understand why Benet is such a special place. It should be a fun team to watch. We have a lot of returners headlined by Nick Roe. Nick leads by example with his hardworking and selfless attitude. Having seniors who consistently put the team first sets a great example for the younger guys.”

Downers Grove North

Coach: Rafal Slomba (first season)

Last season’s record: 6-14-1, 1-5 West Suburban Silver, sixth place

Top returners: Ryan Wilson, sr., MF; Aldo Velasquez, sr., MF; Will Beaty, sr., D; Jimmy Harkness, sr., MF

Key newcomers: Mantas Palubinskas, jr., MF; Ty Peboontom, fr., MF

Worth noting: Slomba is leading the program but his past experience – the past two seasons at Richards and helping the girls team at Downers Grove North – is a plus for the program. “I’m looking forward to the season with this group,” Slomba said. “They put in a lot of time and effort throughout the summer and the preseason to have a successful year. The team is a mix of experienced players (12 seniors) and nine underclassmen. Early in the season, we will look to hit the ground running and find our identity as a team and program.”

Downers Grove South

Coach: Jon Stapleton (22nd season)

Last season’s record: 9-10-1, 3-3 West Suburban Gold, fifth place

Top returners: Michael Mendoza, sr., D; Jonathan Venouziou, jr., MF; Danny Smazil, jr., MF

Key newcomers: Sebastian Sztafa, jr., D; Ryan Deacy, jr., F

Worth noting: Downers Grove South enters the season with several new faces after the loss of 16 players from last season’s nine-win team. Stapleton said he’s hoping his players mesh throughout the season and build for a successful playoff run. “We will have a number of players experiencing their first varsity action, which will be an adjustment for many,” he said. “Over the course of the season, I hope this group can come together as a group and play some of their best soccer of the season come tournament time. This year’s team is a very cohesive group. Although young, they truly enjoy playing with and for each other. I feel this cohesiveness will be a strength of ours especially during the expected ups and downs of a season. Michael Mendoza is a three-year starter on defense. He will need to be the leader of our backline and will help our newcomers.”


Coach: Craig Blazer (fifth season)

Last season’s record: 7-10-2, 2-4-2 Chicago Catholic League, 11th place

Top returners: James Zimmer, sr., MF; Evan Hickman, sr., MF/D; John Ballarin, sr., MF/D; Jake Brecknock, sr., MF; Ian MacKinnon, sr., F; Sam Allaire, jr., MF

Worth noting: The Friars are motivated to notch a winning season, led by the return of all-sectional player James Zimmer and captain Evan Hickman. “We’re very excited for the season and return a few senior players that played or who were on our 2021 team which had a successful run and won regionals and sectionals,” Blazer said. “The seniors have grown from this experience and also from the disappointment of our early exit from last season’s tournament. Our players have shown maturity throughout and are starting to take over the process of becoming a team. We look forward to our competitive nonconference and conference schedule that should prepare us for a successful run in the tournament.”

Glenbard East

Coach: Josh Adler (20th season)

Last season’s record: 11-5-2, 6-1-2 UEC

Top returners: Fernando Bernal, sr., D; Lukas Czapla, sr., D; David Hernandez, sr., MF/F; Josue Roman, sr., MF; Cooper Wooldridge, jr., GK

Key newcomers: Gerardo Figueroa, jr., F; Josh Roimicher, jr., D

Worth noting: Hernandez (four goals, two assists last fall) and Roman (nine goals, 10 assists last fall) will look to finish their time as Rams in strong fashion, entering their senior seasons with 21 goals and 15 assists between them. “The goal for our group is to find chemistry with the new pieces and find ways to incorporate them into the attack moving forward,” Adler said. Wooldridge, whichj had six shutouts a season ago, has Bernal and Czapla returning to anchor the back line.

Glenbard South

Coach: Willie Fajkus (first season)

Last season’s record: 3-16-3, 0-9 UEC

Top returners: Ryan Hopkins, jr., D; Phinees Kula, sr., F; Nick Miranda, sr., MF, Paul Quint, sr., MF

Key newcomers: Wyatt Bremer, so., D; Emmett Foster-Simbulan, fr., GK; PJ Lehr, so., MF; David Puchalski, so., MF

Worth noting: It’s a fresh start for the Raiders. They not only graduated a dozen seniors but also have a new coach in Fajkus, who is no stranger on the scene after spending years coaching at the College of DuPage. Miranda and Quint are back in the midfield.

Glenbard West

Coach: Phil Wicyk (third season)

Last season’s record: 12-10, 3-3 West Suburban Silver, fourth place

Top returners: Eduardo Vargas, sr., MF; Jack Barrientes, sr., MF; Luke Benson, sr., D

Key newcomers: Aidan Adachi, jr., D; Jack Harrold, sr., GK; Chris Weber, jr., F

Worth noting: The Hilltoppers are brimming with confidence withj eight returning starters back from last season’s winning team. The combination of returning talent and chemistry hjas Wicyk excited for the season. “Now, with two years of playing together, the expectations for this team are high,” Wicyk said. “With eight returning starters from last year and the addition of our newcomers, I expect us to compete in a very competitive West Suburban Silver conference. I believe this is one of my most skilled teams I have managed in my coaching career. Senior Jack Harrod is returning from club to finish out his high school career with us, back in the net. In front of him, he will have a very tall, aggressive back line, which will be led by returning starters, senior Luke Benson and senior Kelley Roach. We are looking for our seniors, all-sectional midfielders Eduardo Vargas and all-sectional honorable mention Jack Barrientes, to pick up from where they left off last season. We look for them to get on the scoring sheet a bit more this year. The strength of this year’s team is definitely their chemistry. This year’s varsity roster features 17 seniors who have been together, not only in high school, but also in club for a majority of their soccer playing careers.”

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Michael Wiggins (22nd season)

Last season’s record: 17-5-1, 4-2 West Suburban Silver, second place

Top returners: Ardit Abdullai, sr., MF; Enzo Cinque, jr., D; Luca Davies, sr., F; Martin Montoya, sr., D; Oliver Pohlenz, sr., D; Austen Szurgo, jr., MF

Worth noting: The Red Devils have a wealth of talent and experience back from a 17-win team that finished tied for second in the rugged West Suburban Silver last season. Seven starters are back from last season’s team, which won 10 of its last 11 games including the program’s 13th regional title. “We’re excited for this group entering the 2023 season,” Wiggins said. “They bring energy, enthusiasm and excitement looking to build on previous success. Our program emphasizes the student-athlete experience and how that can bring out the best in them on and off the field. We have a terrific group that shows up with an eagerness to learn and a willingness to succeed. They continue to show an understanding of how skillful play partnered with positivity and hard work can lead to encouraging results.”

Hinsdale South

Coach: Danny Makaric

Last season’s record: 5-14, 1-5 West Suburban Gold, sixth place

Top returners: Davin Olsen, Brody Hallman, James Martin, Jake Lu.

Worth noting: A year ago, the Hornets never were able to build any momentum, especially following three wins in their first six games. But the 2023 version is filled with a capable group of returnees aiming to lead the Hornets to a winning record. “Our expectations for this season are we are a young team with a lot of talent,” Makaric said. “We expect to be a top-notch team. Our team strength is we have great team chemistry and have dedicated their entire summer to be ready for the season. James Martin is a hard worker with potential to be a state player. He was our best scorer last season. Davin Olsen is a top-notch defender who dealt with injuries last season but is good to go for this season. Brody Hallman has the skill set to play for any team at the high school level. Jake Lu has a finishing percentage of around 80% to 90%.


Coach: Rick Prangen (32nd season)

Last season’s record: 14-4-7, 6-2-3 South Suburban, third place

Top returners: Tyler Chrisman, jr., MF; Aiden Ontiveros, jr., D; Ali Nabulsi, jr., MF; Bret Tucker, so., F

Key newcomers: Gabriel Zarycki, fr., MF/F; Giovanni Ochoa, fr., F/MF; Andrew Guzy, fr., D; John Robbins, fr., F

Worth noting: Lemont enters this season looking to avoid another season full of ties – seven last season – while also aiming to take it a step further from last season’s sectional final ending. Five starters spark optimism for another banner season to go with a promising group of freshmen slated to play minutes this season. Chrisman scored five goals and tallied 11 assists last season. Tucker had six goals and an assist. “We will need to replace six starters from last year’s team,” Prangen said. “We had many sophomores who started and contributed last season. Hopefully, the experience of the sophomore class as well as the juniors combined with the current set of starters and a talented freshman class will be able to blend well together. We will still be a very young team this year but are looking to compete for a conference title. In terms of our returning players, Tyler Chrisman and Ali Nabulsi are two players we will be leaning on heavily this year. Tyler is a dynamic attacking midfielder who is extremely quick and good on the ball. Ali is the prototypical defensive midfielder who is both physical but also highly skilled.”


Coach: Paul Labbato

Last season’s record: 15-6-3, 3-3 West Suburban Silver, fifth place

Top returners: Colin Sullivan, sr., D; Danny Svelnis, sr., D; Jimmy Brejcha, sr., MF; Declan Kracker, sr., MF; Haris Sarajlija, sr., MF; Owen Suda, sr., F; Austin Wisnieski, sr., F; Mason Burda, jr., F; Tyler Balon, sr., GK

Key newcomers: Ian Farris, sr., F; Kellin Bourjauly, jr., MF

Worth noting: The Lions are a traditionally strong team that always is in the mix for the conference title and among the top teams in the state. Senior leadership is a key strength for the Lions, who are looking to be among the top teams in the conference after absorbing some tough losses last season because of key injuries. “We’re strong in all aspects of the game and are hoping to put it all together,” Labbato said. “Colin Sullivan, a Bucknell commit, is a dominating force and wants to prove it after a junior season-ending injury.”


Coach: Barry Briggs

Last season’s record: 6-10, 3-4 Chicago Catholic, eighth place

Top returners: Mason Esquivel, sr., MF; Hunter Ross, sr., D; Julian Beahan, jr., MF

Key newcomers: Robert Gutierrez, fr., MF/D; Owen Ferris, fr., MF; Victor Gamboa, fr., F

Worth noting: The Broncos have several standout seniors leading the way mixed in with some promising freshmen scheduled to play heavy minutes against a tough schedule. ”We’re a very young team with only three returning seniors,” Briggs said. “We have a good group of freshmen but it will take them a while to adjust to high school soccer. Julian is a creative player that can score goals. He is still determining his options for college. Our older players are helping the freshman integrate well into our system.”


Coach: Jim Bageanis (seventh season)

Last season’s record: 20-3, 6-0 West Suburban Gold, first place

Top returners: Ivan Ramirez, sr., D; Christian Valadez, jr., D; Josh Trujillo, sr., D; Alexis Meza, sr., MF/D

Key newcomers: Max Aquino, sr., MF/F; Jonathon Almaguer, sr., MF

Worth noting: The Mustangs once again are expected to be in the mix for the Class 3A state title, paced by a strong group of seniors, including one of the best back lines in the state. “I feel that we have high expectations once again this year,” Bageanis said. “We have multiple players that can play multiple positions on the pitch. We also have multiple players that can score goals at any time on the field. That, along with our strong defense, should do well for us this coming season. Ivan Ramirez, Christian Valadez and Josh Trujillo will anchor our defense. Ivan is committed to UIC for next season, while Josh and Christian are extremely solid players in the back for us. All three of these guys are extremely talented defensive players who are good in the air and also good with their feet. We also are depending on Efrain Farias to handle the goalkeeping duties. Also, returning this year is Max Aquino, UIC commit, who played with us on our 2021 state team as a sophomore. He is a multitalented player that can play up top or also play in the midfield anywhere. We are going to rely on him to score goals, as well as setting people up for goals this coming season. I think the strength for this team will be possession, along with really moving the ball to players that can score at any time on the field but even our defensive players have a good offensive skills. We’re going to have many threats on the field at any time to score. We also have an extremely strong bench as well.”


Coach: Roberto Cianci

Last season’s record: 9-12-2

Top returners: Charlie Austin, sr., M; Colin Schaeffer, sr., M; Arigael “Ari” Hernandez, jr., M/F; David Brunke, sr., F; Dean Faust, jr., D; Jacob Sanchez, jr., D

Key newcomer: Alex Swano, fr., GK

Worth noting: The Roadrunners, who lost to Marmion 3-2 in last year’s regional final, return five starters while 10 of the starting 11 played significant varsity minutes so the goal is to make it past regionals. Depth is a concern with a short bench and sophomores learning as they go. Austin, a captain and leader in the midfield, had four goals and one assist last year. Hernandez, who had four goals and four assists, will look to improve on those numbers to help fill the void of graduated Niko Di Foggio, who had 11 goals. Schaeffer makes it all work in the midfield and returning starters Faust and Sanchez anchor the defense. Sanchez is making the transition to center back from his natural right back position. Swano will share time in goal with junior Krister Bent. “They know what is expected and are familiar with each other,” Cianci said. “The key to success will be if we can stay healthy.”


Coach: Ivek Halic

Last season’s record: 11-10, 5-1 Metro Suburban Conference, first place

Top returners: Max Swicionis, sr., M; David Carrillo, sr., M; Massimo Franceschina, sr., D; Diego Villegas, jr., M; Tomas Kunikas, jr., M

Key newcomers: Kenzo DeLemos, fr., M; Josef Guerrero, jr., M; Diego Castillo, jr., M; Vince Duong, jr., D

Worth noting: The Bulldogs return 12 players, led by returning starters Swicionis (an all-conference selection), Carrillo, Franceschina, Villegas and Kunikas. Also back is Nick Gilberto, Mak Scheuermann, Liam Kaiser and Liam Hickey. “We have a good mix of returning varsity athletes from last year and younger players with a lot of talent,” Halic said. “With our difficult strength of schedule, we are looking to be competitive again this season and more specifically in conference. We are looking forward to starting the season in the Windy City Tournament hosted by Reavis High School and also looking forward to participating in the Streamwood Tournament for the first time this season.”

Timothy Christian

Coach: Joel Zielke (sixth season)

Last season’s record: 18-10, 5-2 Metro Suburban Conference, third place in 1A

Top returners: Caleb Bode, sr., MF; Peter Buikema, jr., GK; Hendrik DeVries, sr., F; Cooper Rainone, jr., MF; Owen Wise, jr., D

Key newcomers: Josiah Bhatia, jr., MF; Timothy Nulty, jr., MF; Hyan Sachs, jr., D; Ben Schroeder, so., MF

Worth noting: Timothy is looking forward to challenging for a title in the newly formed Chicagoland Christian Conference with 13 returners from a team that took third place in Class 1A last season. Buikema, in his third season as starting goalkeeper, is among seven starters that return. He’ll anchor a new-look back line featuring juniors Trevor Munk, Sachs, Munk and sophomore Wes Hueber. DeVrries, Hoekstra and Bode lead a strong mix of scorers who return and will look to benefit immensely from Rainone and Nulty’s technical work in the midfield. With the bump to 2A, Timothy is preparing itself with a difficult nonconference schedule in addition to the new conference.


Coach: Francisco Delgado (fifth season)

Last season’s record: 9-9, 1-3 Metro Suburban Conference

Top returners: Valdet Dalipi, jr., MF; Abraham Johnson, sr., F

Key newcomer: Juan Bolivar, fr., MF

Worth noting: The Sentinels graduated only one player from a season ago. “We made the regional final last year,” Delgado said. “We are pushing to win a regional. With all our best players coming back highly motivated, we are expecting a great season.”

Wheaton Academy

Coach: Jeff Brooke (12th season)

Last season’s record: 15-5-4, 5-1-0 Metro Suburban Conference

Top returners: Asher Barton, sr., MF; Jakob Karlson, sr., D; Scotty Murray, sr., MF

Key newcomers: Mason Brooke, fr., MF; Sam Brown, jr., MF; Cuyler Finnegan, jr., D; Gabe Stein Rodrigues, so., MF

Worth noting: The Warriors graduated most of their starters from a season ago. They’ll look to rebuild with a young roster and the return of Brooke, whose teams have made four Final Four appearances and won a state title during his tenure. The Warriors will continue to play a challenging schedule with appearances in the St. Charles Tournament and the Go 4 The Goal Classic in Iowa. Brooke is blessed to not only return to his alma mater (2002) but he’ll get to coach his son Mason, a freshman midfielder.

Wheaton North

Coach: Joe Klingelhoffer (third season)

Last season’s record: 8-6-5, 3-1-2 DuKane Conference, third place

Top returners: Carson Bilut, sr., MF; Josh Simon, sr., F; Carter Evans, sr., MF/D; William Bonga, sr., D

Key newcomers: Jackson Galbraith, jr., MF/D; Yusuf Habeeb, sr., F/D; Jamison Sleper, sr., D

Worth noting: The Falcons are looking to make some waves in the conference after several solid seasons. “We’ve been third or fourth in the conference for the last four years, so we would like to crack into that top tier by turning a few of our draws into wins,” Klinghoffer said. “I hope to maintain our strong defensive play while becoming a more dangerous offensive team. We return Lucas Klingler, William Bonga and goalkeeper Joe Wakeman and expect to have another tight defense. Josh Simon will look to build on his seven goals as a junior. Returning seniors Bilut, Evans and Julian Opsina are skilled midfielders who should make up a quick playing midfield.”

Wheaton Warrenville South

Coach: Guy Callipari

Last season’s record: 10-7-3, 4-1-2 DuKane Conference, second place

Top returners: Jared Ferreya, jr, GK; Edgar Guzman, sr., MF; Jet Oehlrlien, jr., MF; Brookes Becker, sr., D; Erik Crisostomo, sr., MF; Semin Razman, so., F; Aaron Escareno, jr., D; Diego Bautista, jr., MF; Liam Smeir, jr., MF

Key newcomers: Jay Weber, so., D; Noah Giannasi, so., D: Leo Kise, so., MF

Worth noting: The Tigers should be a team to watch again this season after finishing second in the DuKane Conference and losing 2-1 to Oswego in the playoffs last fall. Led by 13 returning players, the Tigers won a regional title last season, but lost the core of that team. “We had 10 wins last season against a difficult schedule, so that will help us navigate this season,” Callipari said. “The large question is who can provide the opportunities in the offensive third of the field?”


Coach: Victor Lopez

Last season’s record: 11-8-2, 4-2 West Suburban Gold, second place

Top returners: Vinni Da Sliva, jr., MF; Adrian Kasiky, so., D; Lucas Bohm, sr., F

Worth noting: The Warriors look to take it up a notch this season and battle Morton for the conference championship. Lopez said his team is full of talented players capable of making a difference in the win-loss column. The Warriors were undefeated in their home games last season and are aiming to add a few more victories on the road this fall. “This year we had around 90 kids, which goes to show that we are growing as a program,” Lopez said. “With just under a week of practice, we can tell that this year will be an exciting one. At every level there is plenty of talent and we can definitely tell that the soccer program is only getting bigger and better. Our expectations are even higher than last season. We will be working hard to try and outdo ourselves. Overall, we are excited and looking forward to another great year.”


Coach: Jordan Stopka (fourth season)

Last season’s record: 19-2-3, 6-0 West Suburban Silver, first place

Top returners: Jayden Waski, sr., F; Michael Greco, sr., MF; Gustavo Herrera, sr., MF; Mateusz Janowski, sr., D; Diego Ochoa, jr., GK

Key newcomers: Damian Glodz, sr., F/MF; Freddie Steen, jr., D

Worth noting: The Dukes under Stopka have become a powerhouse in the past few years, finishing fourth in Class 3A last season after losses to Romeoville and Stevenson at the state tournament. The Dukes should be highly motivated to atone for ending last season with back-to-back defeats after winning the state title in 2021. “We have a nice balance of experience and new blood in this squad,” Stopka said. “The boys are hungry and the sky is the limit.” The Dukes have plenty of talent returning to make another run at a state title, Stopka said. “Jayden Waski is a fast, skilled winger who committed to DePaul,” Stopka said. “He will be asked to up his goal total of 12 from last year but I fully believe he will do it. Gustavo Herrera is looking to play at the next level and will be a key facilitator playing attacking midfield. With newcomer Damian Glodz, the Dukes are hoping to have a high-octane offense.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network