Hinckley-Big Rock boys soccer coach Paul Taeuber hesitates to put one group of players above another, but last year’s senior class was undeniably special.
That class of Royals, which included two-time Daily Chronicle Player of the Year Bernie Conley, scored 111 of H-BR’s 130 goals last season on their way to a third-place finish in Class 1A, just a year after a run to the supersectionals. Taeuber also coached that group on the sophomore basketball team before he left that post.
“I like to think that every group I have, I feel that way,” Taeuber said. “Maybe with them, I feel it more because of that time with them, the supersectional and going to state and being around each other, and coaching the majority of them in basketball as freshmen and sophomores. It’s different, I knew it would be different. … everything worked out last year and it was a great year. It’s definitely different.”
And while expectations would seem to lower after such a class graduates, Taeuber has seen his team succeed when it’s not necessarily expected.
In 2011, the Royals were coming off a successful season in which they bowed out of the playoffs in the regional championship to Stillman Valley, a team they had beaten earlier in the year.
But despite having a worse record than in 2010, the Royals made a run to the supersectionals and narrowly missed out on a trip to state.
This year, Taeuber is hoping for the same magic.
“We want to have the mentality that, ‘Yeah, we got really close to state one year, we got to state one year, and the year after, it’s time to win it.’ They have to have that mentality. When you have that mentality, you find ways to win.”
The Royals do have returning experience from last year’s run.
They should improve defensively, with starters Tom Sanders, Andy VanLanduyt, Jason Bohannon and Bailey McQueen returning.
Offensively, the Royals have plenty of questions after losing quite a bit of firepower. But Taeuber is confident seniors Eric Phillips and Jeremy Perales will be able to lead an attack that will be bolstered by Jack Bullard, a sophomore who Taeuber said has the potential to put up 20 goals and 20 assists.
“We don’t have that same kind of go-to person. I would like to say that because we’re going to pass the ball, we’re going to pass the ball better than we have the last two, three years,” Taeuber said. “The last couple of years, I could pick the best two, three players, and figure out the goals, but that’s not the case this year.”
And while plenty of new pieces will be worked into the lineup, most of the team was able to experience the state tournament last year, and they know what it takes to compete at a high level. That, in itself, is valuable to Taeuber.
“I think they’re going to grow into that role of believing they can do it and then doing it,” Taeuber said. “They have that last two, three years experience that I hope they have already learned those lessons rather than trying to relearn them. They may be in a different role, but they have those expectations, they know what it feels like to be at both ends and what it takes.”
Boys Soccer Season Preview Capsules
Coach: Brent McIntosh (13th season)
2012 record: 12-3-5, 8-1-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East; lost 3-1 in Class 3A Regional final
Key returners: Sean Woodford, Sr; Logan Brown, Sr.; Trevor Freeland, Jr.; Owen Sawyer, Sr.; Eric Ngum, Sr.; Owen Smith, Jr.; Skyler Weishaar, Sr.
Key newcomers: Dylan Hottsmith, Sr.; Akim Suraji, Sr.; Alex Vaughn-Low, Jr.; Brandon Canaday, Jr.; Jared Smith, Jr.
Outlook: Woodford, a Daily Chronicle All-Area first-teamer last year, will lead DeKalb as it looks to defend its NI Big 12 East title. A deep playoff run eluded the Barbs last year in a difficult Class 3A bracket, but they return enough talent to compete for a regional title.
Coach: Randy Tate (seventh season)
2012 record: 15-7-1, 6-5-1 Big Northern Conference; lost in Class 1A Sectional final
Key returners: Uriel Ortega, Sr.; Cris Beltran, Sr.; William Crozier, Sr.; Danny Hansen, Sr.; Erik Tomlinson, Jr.; Cody Rice, Jr.; Tommy Hansen, So.; Juan Lechuga, So.; Bobby Nay, Jr.; Matthew Cieslica, Jr.; Andrew Caldwell, So.
Outlook: After winning a regional title last year, the Cogs will have to replace two of their top goalscorers, Devon Tijerina and Chris Camargo. But the Cogs have plenty returning to make a strong run in the Big Northern Conference after a successful 2012.
Tate’s take: “We have plenty of scoring potential and will be looking for scoring to come from several players. We experienced a deeper run in the post season last year and the boys are hungry to push that experience even deeper late in the season, but we are concentrating on one day at a time.”
Coach: Kyle Monestero (fourth season)
2012 record: 9-9, 4-3 Little Ten Conference, lost in Class 1A Regional final
Key returners: Gage Grant; Sr.; Justin Smith, Sr.; Taylor Edwards, Sr.
Key newcomers: Ramzy Halaikah, Jr.
Outlook: Nine seniors graduated from last year, so Monestero’s team will make some major tactical adjustments, including a shift in formation. After fielding a team with most of the original members of the Hiawatha varsity team, which began only two years ago, the next wave of players is getting its chance to make an impact.
Monestero’s take: “Key returners have shown great leadership to our younger players and have created a smooth transition. In the past, Hiawatha has looked to hang its hat on a few very talented players but now the Hawks have more even talent spread across the field. Hiawatha continues to build a solid boys soccer program as it starts its fourth year.”
Coach: Paul Taeuber (sixth season)
2012 record: 23-5, 6-1 Little Ten Conference, finished third in Class 1A
Key returners: Tom Sanders, Sr.; Andy VanLanduyt, Sr.; Jason Bohannon, Jr.; Eric Phillips, Jr.; Jeremy Perales, Jr.; Bailey McQueen, Jr.; Jack Bullard, So.
Key newcomers: Adam Joyner, Sr.; Alex Perales, Fr.
Outlook: The Royals lose the bulk of their roster that made a run all the way to the state semifinal and finished in third place in Class 1A. Defense will be the focus this year, with seniors Tom Sanders and Andy VanLanduyt anchoring the defense along with returning juniors Jason Bohannon and Bailey McQueen. The H-BR offense may take some time to come together after 111 of 130 total goals were scored by seniors last year.
Taeuber’s take: “Defensively, we bring back a lot of experience. On the attack, Eric Phillips and Jeremy Perales have been starting since midway through their freshman year, so they have a lot of experience. I think it’s their time to shine. I hope they’re looking forward to it.”
Coach: Eric Schrader (seventh season)
2012 record: 8-14, 2-5 Little Ten Conference; Lost in Class 1A Regional semifinal
Key returners: Stephen Muetze, Sr.; Jeremy Potter, Sr.; Gavin Eberly, Sr.; Tim Sommerfeld, Sr.
Key newcomers: Trevor Guerra, Fr.; Austin Sommerfeld, Fr.; Dylan Eberly, So.
Outlook: The Timberwolves lost a strong senior class, and their leading scorer, Matt Shroka, moved out. But Schrader thinks his team still has enough to be in the mix for a conference title.
Schrader’s take: “We will be young but we have a really strong group of freshmen coming in mixed with some sophomores and juniors who didn’t go out last year. Our focus this year is to go out and play hard every game and try to be in the mix for the conference. I think these guys know that people don’t expect them to do much this year and they want to prove everyone wrong.”
Coach: Scott Parillo (13th season)
2012 record: 16-4-2, 7-2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12; lost in Class 2A Sectional Championship
Key returners: Anthony Parillo, Sr.;-All-State Selection, All-American Nominee, Tyler Siebert, Sr.; Arsim Azemi, Sr.; Chris Van Dinther, Sr.; Matt Vandersande, Sr.
Key newcomers: Kolin Limbrick, Sr.; Jack Wolf, Jr.; Jason Carlquist, Jr.
Outlook: The Knights advanced all the way to the sectional championship last season, and they have plenty returning. Led by NCSAA Preseason All-American nominee Anthony Parillo and All-Area midfielder Arsim Azemi, Kaneland has enough returning to make a run at a conference title and maybe even a berth in the state tournament.
Parillo’s take: “We are expecting to be competitive this year as we had a record number of players try out: 74. We have a lot of returning players, 11, from a squad that made it to the Sweet 16 last season. As long as we stay healthy and gel quickly we should be competitive.”
Coach: Dave Lichamer (12th season)
2012 record: 2-17-1, 0-10 NI Big 12 East, lost in Class 2A Regional quarterfinal
Key returners: Jacob Bassett, Jr.; Jacob Brown, Sr.; Ivan Chavez, Jr.; Ian Findley, Sr.; Tyler Maveus, So.; Adam Millburg, Jr; Kendryck Rand, Sr.
Key newcomers: Jarrett Brown, So.; Alex Handel, Sr.; Tanner Yohe, Sr.
Outlook: The Spartans are ready to get back to their winning ways after a few rough seasons, and they have plenty of seniors returning hoping to turn around the Sycamore program. Winning a few matches in conference play would go a long way toward getting this program back on track.
Lichamer’s take: “After a rough season last year with a young team. … we are looking to change things around and get some more wins. Our numbers are up program wide and we have some players who are hungry to get back to a winning record. We still play a tough schedule, so it will not be easy, but we will be ready for the challenge.”