BLOOMINGTON - The 2010 IHSA Class 3A Boys Soccer State Finals will unfold at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium on the campus of North Central College in Naperville on Friday and Saturday, November 5-6.
The 2010 tourney marks the 39th annual season of the Boys Soccer State Finals, the third of the three-class system and the 10th year that North Central has served as the host.
The first Class 3A semifinal pits a pair of perennial powers, as Rockford Boylan and Edwardsville are making their 18th combined state final appearance, but those 18 trips have resulted in just one championship (Edwardsville in 2000) thus far, a number one of the schools will have the opportunity to boost on Saturday.
The second semifinal features a Libertyville squad that is making its third state final appearance and a Naperville North program that won a state title in 1998 and hopes its seventh state trip will produce championship number two.
Rockford Boylan and Edwardsville will meet at 5 p.m. on Friday, with Libertyville vs. Naperville North slated to follow at 7 p.m. All eight Class 2A and 3A state final tournament matches on Friday and Saturday will be webcast live with full video and audio free of charge on IHSA.tv, as Rusty Silber and Mike Karberg will bring viewers the play-by-play from Naperville.
ROCKFORD BOYLAN TITANS (23-1-3)
Coach: Chris Mera (3rd, 67-10-7)
Boylan has become a boys soccer state final mainstay, as the school prepares to make its ninth state final trip since 1997 and second under head coach Chris Mera. Despite the success, the Titans are still in search of their first state title and hope to ride a stellar defense to the top in 2010.
Junior goalkeeper Tim Dobrowski (12 goals, .50 GAA, 51 saves) and company have recorded 16 shutouts this season and have allowed one goal or less in 25 of 27 matches in 2010. Junior midfielder Ryan Howe has recorded 27 assists this season, many of which have come off of goals from junior forward Victor Zamora (24 goals, 7 assists) and junior midfielder Tyler Robinson (19 goals, 11 assists). Boylan has outscored its five State Series foes 20-1 thus far this postseason.
EDWARDSVILLE TIGERS (19-4-1)
Coach: Mark Heiderscheid (11th, 174-57-26)
Edwardsville makes its third consecutive state final trip and is in search of its first state championship since 2000, when head coach Mark Heiderscheid led the Tigers on the first of his six state tourney appearances.
The Tigers have not allowed more than two goals in a match in 2010, including 14 shutouts, and the team’s lone loss to an Illinois high school this season came against fellow state finalist Naperville North (2-1).
Edwardsville Junior goalkeeper Daniel Brennan has recorded 53 saves in 2010, while posting a .57 goals against average. Offensively, senior forward Sam Fink and his team-high 21 goals pace the Tigers, while junior forward Chris Pearson (7 goals, 8 assists) and sophomore midfielder Tyler Swanner (8 goals, 9 assists) are also scoring threats.
LIBERTYVILLE WILDCATS (19-3-2)
Coach: Andy Bitta (25th, 336-110-53)
Two of Libertyville head coach Andy Bitta’s 336 career victories have come in the state finals, both of which came when the Wildcats placed second in 1986. Bitta and Libertyville returned to state in 1996 and will now vie for a state title in 2010 after a grueling postseason that included a penalty kick victory over Stevenson, a four-overtime thriller against Highland Park and a 1-0 triumph against defending state champ St. Viator.
Libertyville’s senior forward combination of Miles McNeir (18 goals) and Joey Ruppert (15 goals) has accounted for more than half of the team’s goals scored this season, while sophomore forward Austin Bitta (4 goals) has accounted for helpers on 13 goals in 2010. While Coach Bitta’s younger son is an offensive threat, his older son Andrew (.80 GAA) handles the Wildcats goalkeeper duties, where he has helped produce 10 shutouts this season.
NAPERVILLE NORTH HUSKIES (21-2-2)
Coach: Jim Konrad (7th, 118-32-19)
Naperville North and head coach Jim Konrad have quietly put together a solid, if not spectacular season and now find themselves among the state and nation’s elite after knocking off several highly rated foes.
The Huskies won three straight 2-1 decisions in the postseason, before a 3-2 double-overtime thriller over a Lyons team ranked among the Top 13 in the country in the Super-Sectional round.
Junior forward Evan Trychta (18 goals, 9 assists) is the squad’s only double-digit goal scorer, as the balanced offensive attack features seven players with three goals or more. The defense, anchored by junior goalkeeper Kevin Anderson (.58 GAA), has posted 13 shutouts this season, including a six-match streak in which they didn't allow a goal. Don’t expect the Huskies to wilt under pressure of a close contest, as the team went 9-1 in one-goal matches this season.
- Source: Illinois High School Association