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Soccer playoff previews: Morton hopes to ride dominant D to state

Morton's Mario Romero dribbles the ball upfield in the Mustangs' game against Willowbrook on Oct. 9.
Morton's Mario Romero dribbles the ball upfield in the Mustangs' game against Willowbrook on Oct. 9.

The soccer postseason begins on Friday for both Class 2A and 3A with regional quarterfinals. Morton and other area teams begin play next week in regional semifinals with the hopes of starting a long postseason run to Lincoln-Way North, home to the state finals for both classes.


Regional: Morton

Sectional: Hinsdale South

First game: 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 vs. No. 14 Juarez or No. 18 Hubbard

Outlook: The Mustangs have just two losses this year and both came in tournament finals – to Hinsdale Central in the Red Devil Cup and to Lane Tech in the Pepsi Showdown.

Both losses came by just one goal so Morton has proven it can play with anyone in the state. The key to the state tournament is doing it when it counts.

Last year, Morton failed to win a regional despite being the top seed in the sectional. This year, the Mustangs have the No. 2 seed behind Hinsdale Central.

The Mustangs’ dominant defense, spearheaded by goalkeeper Ian Chacon, entered the week with 13 shutouts and just seven goals allowed in 19 games. Despite those stats Morton has won nine one-goal games, six of those 1-0. The offense hasn’t found a go-to scorer, although Chabello Marquez has scored some important goals this season.

No. 7 seed Kelly, which lost to No. 4 seed Lyons Township 5-0 this season, is the likely regional final opponent. It gets tricky after that with No. 3 seed Benet possibly looming next.

Lyons Township

Regional: Lyons Township

Sectional: Hinsdale South

First game: 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 vs. No. 13 Summit

Outlook: The Lions failed to win the West Suburban Silver, coming up short against Hinsdale Central, and were unable to defend their Pepsi Showdown title, losing 3-2 to eventual champion Lane Tech.

However, those are the only losses for LT this season. Despite an impressive record with only losses to elite teams, the Lions still only earned the No. 4 seed in the Hinsdale South sectional.

The sectional is loaded with the top-seeded and undefeated Red Devils, a two-loss Morton team that shares the same losses as LT, and Best of the West Tournament winner Benet.

The Lions have an experienced team that has enjoyed a lot of success, but after getting upset in the regional final last year they will be looking to make a deep run this time around. Central midfielder Harry Hilling has been pulling the strings to set up talented forwards Christian Sanchez, Frankie Kocimski and Matt Murphy while Joe Lupano, Emilio Godinez, Peter Kass and Spiro Kass have contributed to a defense that had eight shutouts entering Tuesday’s Proviso West match.


Regional: Hinsdale Central

Sectional: Hinsdale South

First game: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23 vs. No. 8 Whitney Young

Outlook: Last year the Friars surprised just about everyone by winning a sectional despite entering as the No. 10 seed. This time around Fenwick has the No. 9 seed and still probably has long odds of repeating the feat.

The Friars endured a seven-match winless streak to begin September, but had a 3-1-1 record over the last five games of the regular season to finish 6-7-4.

Whitney Young, which beat Fenwick 3-2 in the Pepsi Showdown on Sept. 17, is the regional semifinal opponent. If the Friars get past that game, No. 1 seed Hinsdale Central likely awaits.

Riverside Brookfield

Regional: St. Laurence

Sectional: Riverside Brookfield

First game: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at No. 8 St. Laurence

Outlook: The season didn’t start so well for the Bulldogs, but they have rebounded to play better soccer in the second half of the season.

RB went winless through its first eight matches with an 0-5-3 record; it entered Monday’s action having won six of the previous nine. The Bulldogs went 4-2 to take third in the Metro Suburban Conference.

Despite the mixed results, coach Danny Makaric remained confident in his group’s playoff chances in Class 2A. The Bulldogs played a tough non-conference schedule early.

RB was handed the No. 9 seed in the sectional, but Makaric said the Bulldogs were given a harsh seed against Chicago schools unfamiliar with many of RB’s opponents. The Bulldogs lost just six players from a team that made the sectional final last year.

If they get past St. Laurence in the opener they will likely see top seed St. Joseph, which the Bulldogs beat 3-0 in a sectional semifinal a year ago.

“Who wins the regional final is probably going to win the sectional final,” Makaric said.


Regional: Cristo Rey Jesuit

Sectional: Riverside Brookfield

First game: 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23 vs. No. 12 Lindblom

Outlook: The Roadrunners have been middle of the road in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and their No. 6 seed in the sectional partially reflects that, but they play a tougher schedule than many of the schools in the Class 2A sectional. The ESCC provides quality opposition compared to the nine Chicago Public League schools in the 18-team sectional.

Nazareth began the season 9-2, but won one of the next seven matches to enter Tuesday’s game at St. Laurence with a 10-7-1 record.

If the Roadrunners win the regional semifinal against Lindblom, they will likely see regional host and No. 3 seed Cristo Rey Jesuit in the final.

St. Joseph

Regional: St. Laurence

Sectional: Riverside Brookfield

First game: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 vs. No. 16 Gage Park or No. 17 UIC College Prep

Outlook: The Chargers have earned the top seed in the sectional but are hoping for their first sectional title since 2009.

Coach Stan Niemiec has guided the program to five straight regional titles, but even with the top seed it won’t be easy to make it six in a row. Riverside Brookfield, the team that knocked the Chargers out in a sectional semifinal a year ago, could meet them in the regional final.

Junior Victor Moreno has been a key part of the team as a free kick specialist and playmaker in the attack. Danny Chavez, Fabian Robles and Israel Tovar have led the team as four-year varsity players.

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