Dave Bachta couldn’t stay away from coaching forever.
After leading Boylan to two IHSA State semifinal appearances in his three years as coach, Bachta took a noncoaching position at Sycamore.
He hung up the clipboard in 2006 to take the Sycamore job in 2007. Now after seven years out, he’s back.
Bachta takes over a Spartans team that went 3-18 last year and last went on a long playoff run in 2005. He said the players have shown great resilience. Bachta replaces longtime Spartans’ coach Dave Lichamer.
“They have done everything I have asked them to do,” Bachta said. “Fitness has been great. Training this summer has been great. The leadership, the three captains, have really stepped up and showed the younger kids what we want to see happen. And that’s always a plus.”
Bachta said his stint as the assistant athletic director for fall sports at the school was fulfilling, but he missed the call of the pitch. He played soccer both during and after college.
“That’s been my life for a long time,” Bachta said. “It’s something I missed and i was always passionate about. I had always been around it. Just sitting on the sidelines, watching other kids play other sports was fun, but I missed it. So it was time to get back into it.”
The players have noticed a change.
“We’ve had a lot of improvements from past years,” senior midfielder Jake Bassett said. “It’s been a good adjustment. Kids are getting more involved with it. We’re doing a lot more conditioning but it’s going to help us during the season.”
“He seems like a really nice guy,” senior midfielder Ivan Chavez said. “He’s putting a lot of effort into the program and we’re really happy for that.”
Not only are more wins one of the main goals, the players are hoping to win a regional title.
“With not having very many wins, it’s kind of just go out there, play our hardest and hope for some more wins this season,” Bassett said. “I think we can have plenty more wins this season.”
While most of the lineup seems set, Bachta said there’s an interesting battle at goalie between senior Dylan Nelson and freshman Patrick Smith. He said that Smith has been very impressive pushing a senior for the starting job.
“His club experience has helped him out,” Bachta said. “He plays at a very high level in the summertime. He and Dylan, Dylan brings a little bit of size, where Patrick is a little more athletic and a little quicker. It will be a battle between the two.”
Bachta said the team has embraced the message of beginning a new era.
“We just leave last year’s results in the past and go forward,” Bachta said. “We need to build and look ahead.”
Boys Soccer Season Preview Capsules
Coach: Brent McIntosh
Last year: 19-3, lost in IHSA Class 3A Huntley Sectional Semifinal
Keep an eye on: Trevor Freeland, sr., F. He’s the top scorer back from a potent offense last year. He scored 19 goals for the Barbs and, according to McIntosh, is one of the best players in the area.
Also: Alex Vaughn-Low, sr., MF/D; Jared Smith, sr., F; Owen Smith, sr., MF/D; Brandon Canaday, sr., D/MF
McIntosh’s take: “Our mindset is to reload. We got a good core back from last year. They weren’t all starters but they have a lot of experience. And we have a solid young group coming through that should help out the older group. So we’re looking to reload, even though we know that is a difficult task.”
The lowdown: The team lost 17 seniors to graduation last year and brings back just two starters. But McIntosh said he is high on the young players on the roster in augmenting the six returners. He said the team will need to step up defensively, as the potent offense of a year ago should take a step back. “We have to show an ability to defend one and two goal leads. We’re going to get our character tested. It’s one thing to defend a four-goal lead, it’s another to defend a one-goal lead.”
Coach: Dave Bachta
Last year: 3-18
Keep an eye on: Jake Bassett, sr., MF. Bassett is a possession midfielder who excels at getting his teammates involved in the offense.
Also: Ivan Chavez, sr., MF; Jarrett Brown, jr., MF; David Schmitt, soph., MF; Tyler Maveus, jr., MF
Bachta’s take: “My goals for them are to improve on last year’s results. And one of their goals is to win a regional.”
The lowdown: Bachta takes over after a 3-18 year, returning to the sidelines for the first time since 2006. He’s worked at Sycamore since 2007, but not as a coach. He led Rockford Boylan to trips to the Final Four in two of his three years at the helm up there, including second and third-place finishes at state. He said the team is going to try to hold and posses, using just two attackers and five midfielders.
Coach: Scott Parillo
Last year: 11-6-4, lost in IHSA Class 2A Burlington Central Section Regional Final
Keep an eye on: Ivan Bohorquez, sr., MF/F. The three year varsity player is one of just six players back from last year’s team for the Knights, who gave up a goal in the last 50 seconds of the region final to Burlington Central in a 1-0 loss. Bohorquez is a good leader, Parillo said, and brings a tenacity to the team – “he’s like a gnat that won’t leave you alone.”
Also: Angel Escontrias, soph., F; Andy Tovar, jr., MF; Drew Franklin, jr., MF; Felipe Spiraggi, jr., F/MF
Parillo’s take: “There’s not enough players left from that team for that loss to stick with us. We graduated 16 seniors last year.”
The lowdown: Parillo said this year’s version of the Knights has done very well at the lower levels and he hopes it translates to varsity. He said it will depend on how they adjust to the much faster pace of the upper level. Tovar should have a big impact among the newcomers.
Coach: Randy Tate
Last year: 17-8-1, fourth in IHSA Class A state tournament
Keep an eye on: Tommy Hansen., jr., MF. Tate said the center midfielder is a dedicated athlete who handles the ball really well. He also plays basketball and baseball and brings good height to the middle of the field.
Also: Erik Tomlinson, sr.,, MF; Matt Cieflica, sr., D; Bobby Nay, sr., F
Tate’s take: “Once everyone is on the field and healthy, we could be a very good possession type team. We should be able to do some attacking out of the midfield. We have some new kids in on defense and should be solid there to.”
The lowdown: Tate said the team is already behind the eight ball in the injury department but expects everyone back not too far into the season. The Cogs entered the region last year as the No. 3 seed, although didn’t have to face a No. 1 seed until the section final against Stillman Valley, a 1-0 win.
Coach: Tony Vartman
Last year: 1-20
Keep an eye on: Jasmine Ascencio, jr., D/MF. The team was coachless for most of the summer, and it was Ascencio who organized practices for the co-ed team, which features five female players. Vartman said she is the absolute hero of the team.
Also: Trey Snow, sr., MF; Jake Mlodzianowski, jr., GK
Vartman’s take: “As far as I can tell we are looking really good. We have some freshmen and sophomores stepping up and taking ownership of the team.”
The lowdown: Vartman said his soccer experience consists of watching the World Cup. But he has coached baseball and the team was desperate for coach, so the players have welcomed him. He said his focus, obviously, isn’t on Xs and Os but rather “mental toughness advice.” He said he’s also teaching life lessons, particularly about not pretending to know something when you don’t. He said he has been open with the team about his lack of soccer knowledge and up front with it.
Hinckley-Big Rock Royals
Coach: Paul Taeuber
Last year: 15-7-1, lost in IHSA Class A Mendota Section Regional Final
Keep an eye on: Jack Bullard, jr., CMF. Bullard prides himself on assists, but can finish as well. He led the team in both last year.
Also: Jeremy Perales, sr., CMF; Eric Phillips, sr., MF; Brett Wachowiak, sr., D
Taeuber’s take: “The one area we might struggle in is scoring. We bring back a strong defense and a lot of experience, but we not as much experience on finishing.”
The lowdown: The Royals have 10 starters back. As strong a player Bullard is, Taeuber said Perales may be the key to the team year, saying he has looked like a different player than the won the score eight goals and had two assists last year. He said Perales is ready to make a leap to the next level, and if that’s true it gives the Royals not just two scoring threats, but a legitimate chance to make a longer postseason run.
Indian Creek Timberwolves
Coach: Eric Schrader
Last year: 5-15-1, lost in IHSA Class A Mendota Section Regional Semifinals
Keep an eye on: Tim Sommerfeld, sr., F. He spent the first two and a half years of his career as a defender. When Schrader moved him up, the goals started coming. In less than half a season up front last year he ended up with 18 goals, all but five coming after his move.
Also: Trevor Guerra, soph., F; Ben Roberts, sr., D; Austin Sommerfeld, soph., F
Schrader’s take: “Coming off a year like last year where we only won five games, and I think we have up 80-something goals, it wasn’t a fun season. But we have a lot of guys back and the are all experienced and know they don’t want a season like that to happen again.”
The lowdown: Schrader said he expects the brothers Sommerfeld to provide a huge spark to the offense. He said the biggest challenge will be getting the duo the ball. He said he doesn’t expect the team to be among the elite in the conference, but still thinks they can surprise a couple teams.