Coach: Tony Passi
Mike Catalano Sr., M
Gustavo Contreras Sr., D
Kevin Coria Sr., M
Zach Czesak Sr., GK
Anthony Devereux Sr., D
Steven Flores Sr., M
David Franz Sr., D
Jesus Hernandez Sr., M
Jon Jaramillo Sr., M
Joe Keane Sr., M
Max Kokoszka Sr., D
Kevin Kovach Sr., M
Steven Mack Sr., GK
Riker Tithof-Steere Sr., D
Carlos Torres Sr., D/M
Zach Van Kovering Sr., D
Edan Armas Jr., M/F
Giovanni Ciaccio Jr., M
Eric Claudio Jr., F
Ricky Claudio Jr., M
Oliver Horgan Jr., F
Kris Lopez Jr., M
Franco Mariani Jr., M
Lorenzo Mariani Jr., F


Lancers top Saints, head to supersectional



By Gary Larsen

Before Lake Park traveled to Saturday’s sectional title game against St. Charles East, players took a little tour of their school’s hallway and located a proud piece of program history.

They found the last sectional championship plaque won by the program, in 1993.

“Before we got on the bus we walked around the school and we looked at all the plaques and we found that sectional plaque,” Lancers coach Anthony Passi said. “We said ‘twenty years, guys’ and then we got on the bus.”

Lake Park didn’t have a proverbial fire in its collective belly on Saturday. It was more like a raging inferno.

Fifty-three days after St. Charles East handed them their worst loss of the season in a 5-1 game, the Lancers exacted revenge with a 1-0 win that gave them a Class 3A sectional title.

An Oliver Horgan head shot goal early in the second half provided all of the game’s scoring, not only giving Lake Park its first sectional title since 1993, but also helping the team set a new program record for wins in a season.

And it was all fueled by the one-sided loss that the Lancers (20-2-3) suffered to the Saints (20-2-4) way back on Sept. 10.

“They did not like look like the team we saw in the first game but we’re not the same team, either,” Passi said. “Defensively we’re better, our goalkeeping is better – we’re a better team. So it was about redemption for the 5-1 loss, and it was about earning respect out there today. The kids were fired up.”

Lancers senior Joe Keane said that his side's early-season loss to the Saints provided a quality lesson moving forward.

“They’re a great team but that was the sixth game of the season and that was a learning game for us,” Keane said. “We knew we had to high pressure them because in the first game we gave them a little more room to serve, and they’re dangerous on their serves. We knew we couldn’t back down from challenges and give credit to our entire back line. They never backed down.

“This feels awesome. This is the best group of guys I could ever want to be involved with.”

Where the Saints grabbed a quick 3-0 lead on set pieces in the teams’ first meeting, Saturday saw Lake Park keeper Steven Mack and his backline of Goose Contreras, Riker Tithof-Steere, Anthony Devereux, and Carlos Torres handle every serve sent in.

And through 40 minutes of scoreless soccer, Lake Park’s midfield won the day. Keane, Mike Catalano, and Kevin Coria were rock-solid and junior Gio Ciaccio returned from injury after a long layoff to lift his entire team.

“Gio came back from a broken ankle, had one practice, and said he’s playing with us,” Keane said. “He is a man. He stepped it up like a man today.”

As the top seed of this year’s Schaumburg 3A sectional, the Saints’ speed of play in the attack has wreaked havoc with opponents all season. Passi and his staff studied film and knew what was needed to slow down a team that scored 85 goals in 25 games heading into Saturday’s match.

“High pressure. Pressuring them all over the field,” Passi said. “We knew (Daniel DiLeonardi) was quick, (Evan DiLeonardi) was quick, (Kevin Heinrich) in the back was good, they had the big switch from the outside left to the right – we saw the film, we had the reports, we had the numbers and names, and we just took the ball off their foot.

“The battle was in the midfield. We knew if we won the battle in the midfield, we’d come out with a win. A lot of the play was from the 25 to the 25 but I’d say it was 60-40 more in their half. (Catalano) won every had ball and Keane played a great game today.”

Through 10 minutes, Lake Park hit a crossbar and Catalano sent a shot just wide of the post, while Zach Manibog headed a Daniel DiLeonardi cross just wide of the far post. Tithof-Steere flicked a Keane throw-in that Catalano headed high at 17 minutes, and Catalano headed a Keane freekick wide a minute later.

The Saints have defended at the highest level all year and while the Lancers didn’t manage a goal through 40 minutes, they won the first half.

“We just came out hard and everybody was on page. We played with a lot of heart,” Horgan said. “Our defense was talking, our midfield was giving us chances even though (St. Charles East) has a good defense. We were still getting some good opportunities and some good shots.”

Manibog and Christian Memije sent shots off frame early in the second half, and Saints keeper Chris Lucatorto saved a Ciaccio head shot off a cross by Horgan at 49 minutes.

One minute later, Catalano blistered a shot from 35 yards out that Lucatorto tipped over the bar at the upper ninety, setting up a Keane corner kick. Horgan elevated, six yards off the near post, and headed it home to provide all the scoring the Lancers would ultimately need.

With Ciaccio playing in his first game in over a month and another dangerous outside mid in Kris Lopez unable to play after suffering an injury in the Lancers’ regional title win over Elk Grove, Lorenzo and Franco Mariani battled on the outside all game long “and Josh Solarz, the sophomore, when we called upon him he made a couple nice runs wide,” Passi said. “He held his own.”

Defensively, the Lancers have given up 20 goals in 27 games, but 10 of those 20 goals came in their first six games of the season. Lake Park has outscored opponents 12-1 in the postseason and showed throughout Saturday’s game that Mack and his backline are now playing their best soccer.

“Every serve was either headed out by our defenders or I came out to cut it off,” Mack said. “Our backline – Devereux, Carlos, Goose, and Riker – those are my brothers, and they delivered. I told them they had to have the game of their career today and that’s what they did.”

Mack was steady and aggressive throughout, and had to make a diving stop of a Manibog shot from 20 yards out at 66 minutes to maintain his side’s 1-0 lead.

The senior keeper has elevated his game as the season progressed.

“The first two games this year I gave up four goals, I was shaky, and I got pulled,” Mack said. “I was benched. But I came back and since then I’ve only given up two goals. It was just a rocky start and once I got benched it definitely motivated me to make myself better, to come out and be a better goalkeeper.”

With the Saints pushing hard for a tying goal in the second half, Contreras proved throughout why Passi calls him "the anchor of the backline", while Tithof-Steere and Catalano were monsters in the air on every Saints set piece on Saturday.

“We knew they were big in the air but we do well in the air, and Steve does a really good job of coming out on those,” Tithof-Steere said.  “In the first half I think they might have underestimated us but we came out and played our game, started passing the ball around really well in the midfield, and I thought we dominated the midfield in the first half and had momentum going into the second half.”

Saturday’s win sends the Lancers to the state’s Elite Eight and a super-sectional showdown for the right to advance to this year’s state finals. They’ll take on Larkin onTuesday at Streamwood high school’s Millennium Field at 6 PM.

“This feels amazing,” Mack said. “Last year we were knocked out in the first round and our goal this year was to make it to state. We’re making that come true.”


152 W. Biesterfield Road,
Elk Grove Village
Phone 847.956.1818
Fax 847.956.4848
© 2013 WestSuburbanSports. All Rights Reserved.