As the boys soccer season hits the midway point overall and in conference slates, most of the six Times-area squads either boast solid records or are playing well, while others continue to be on the verge of finishing the campaign strong.
The Bobcats (5-4-1, 1-1 Little Ten Conference) are unbeaten in their past three games, including solid wins over Princeton and Indian Creek last week. Lance Grandgeorge has netted 11 goals in the last two matches and currently has 20 goals and five assists on the season, while Luke Rader has nine goals and 16 assists.
“Things are going well, we finally are getting everyone healthy, and the team is beginning to click,” Somonauk coach Jonathan Liechty said. “We have had a lot of adversity this season, but the guys have turned their setbacks into setups for the next play, the next game and the next opportunity. They just don’t quit.
“Lance is really coming into great form as we turn the home stretch of the season. He just is such a tough and competitive young man. He hates to lose, and even more, loves to win. His doggedness and persistence have no doubt led to his scoring outbreak the past couple of games.”
The Huskers are 10-0 (2-0 LTC) on the season, besting the previous program mark of nine straight wins the 2002 team produced, and they now have set their sights on the 1999 record of 12 consecutive victories.
Tanner Faivre (20 G, 8 A), Camden Figgins (12 G, 6 A) Hudson Stafford (3 G, 9 A), Richie Armour (5 G, 5 A) and keeper Carson Baker (saved 41 of 48 shots against, 5 shutouts) have led the way.
“I’m just very proud of the way the kids prepared for the season, and how concentrated they are at each and every game,” Serena coach Dean DeRango said. “We really stressed our weight program this summer, and you can see how much more stable and physical we are. Big credit to coach Chris Gunier, who opened the weight room all summer and had the kids working his weight program.
“We have the big games in our schedule coming up, then the conference tourney, and then we host a regional. We just have to keep working hard and keep our eyes on the prize.
“I love this group of kids, and whatever happens the rest of the season they can control themselves.”
The Red Raiders are 7-2 overall (2-1 LTC) and have won three consecutive matches, but coach Larry Heiden feels his team needs to get better in every aspect of the game.
“The only real positive I took out of those games was that we beat the teams that we should,” Heiden said. “Oregon and DePue/Hall are both good teams, but we allowed those games to be closer than they really should have been. In all three games, our defense allowed bad goals to be scored on us, and we left a lot of goals [breakaways, open nets, and odd-man rushes] on the field.”
Diego Vazquez (17 G, 5 GWG, 3 A), Griffin Cook (10 G, 12 A) and Trenton Fruit (8 G, 2 A) have provided the scoring punch this season.
“None of it is really surprising, as Diego and Griffin both had monster seasons last year, so I knew they would fill up the stat line,” Heiden said. “I told Trenton this year that he would have to make up for the production [graduated] Bryar Keller gave us last season, and he has done a good job doing that.”
The Bulldogs (8-2, 2-1 Illinois Central 8) have won back-to-back games with a combination of a tough diamond defense led by Adam Williamson (7 A) and Parker Phillis (3 G, 8 A), as well as seven goals by Brady Grabowski (16 G, 2 A).
“Brady brings an incredible amount of speed on the wing and has been able to find the ball on misdirection, following up with very hard shots that are difficult for goalies to handle,” said Streator coach J.T. Huey, who has gotten 10 goals from Noah Russow and another seven from Landon Muntz this year. “Our defense is experienced and talented, with Williamson and Phillis strong, defensive-minded players that routinely get us out of jams and frustrate opposing strikers.”
The young Indians (2-9) picked up a solid 3-2 win over Hinckley-Big Rock last week, and coach Aaron Mlot said he and his staff have stressed playing a simple game, which he said was a key in the win over the Royals.
“We have a lot of younger players with little experience, we’ve dialed it back and have been stressing ‘simple’ at practice,” Mlot said. “We’ve got a couple of leaders in Luis Baez and Kayden Page who are able to take that message and coach on the field for us.”