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Inside Boys Soccer

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 12:07 a.m. CST

Athlete of the Week

Niko Mihalopoulos

Huntley, sr., MF

Mihalopoulos delivered a clutch performance Thursday against Lake Park to keep the Red Raiders undefeated. With Huntley trailing 2-0 in the second half, Mihalopoulos scored two goals in an 11-minute span and added an assist as the Red Raiders came back to tie Lake Park, 3-3. Mihalopoulos also scored two goals in Tuesday’s 3-0 win against York.

Noteworthy

Imbalanced schedules: Crystal Lake South coach Brian Allen faces some tough decisions during nonconference games, which dominate the schedule to start the season.

Scheduling high school games can be tough, and Allen always wants to try and find that happy medium between the quality of opponents and quantity of games. Allen said he uses the first few games to solidify the starting lineup and get younger players varsity experience.

Growth during nonconference games is a priority.

“We always try to get two nonconference games in before a tournament,” Allen said. “We try to get a few extra games for fitness and getting guys acclimated before conference play begins.”

With conference play yet to begin, teams have taken different approaches when it comes to playing its nonconference games. South is in a stretch of playing five games in 10 days while some teams are easing into the season. Cary-Grove opens with five games on the road and kicked off the Grant invite against Harvard on Tuesday. Most teams still have about three weeks before playing a division game, providing plenty of time to work out and address any weaknesses.

Woodstock North’s dangerous attack: As first-year head coach Lauren Farley continues to get to know her team, the Thunder have the advantage of featuring two important combinations to help ease the transition: a dynamic duo leading the attack and a steady goalkeeper.

Junior forwards Chris Niese and Josh Jandron have given Woodstock North plenty of speed to work with creating dangerous runs.

While Farley knows there’s room for improvement, namely finishing at the net, Niese and Jandron have given the Thunder’s opponents a dangerous combination to try and shutdown.

Coming off a below .500 season, Farley is optimistic the Thunder are headed in the right direction. Sophomore goalkeeper Ricky Rodriguez has also helped provide some consistency for the Thunder’s defense.

This week’s top matches

Woodstock North at Marengo, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday

The Thunder dropped a tough game against Grayslake North, losing in penalty kicks, and after splitting a pair of games, they look to battle a Marengo team looking to bounce back from a tough start to the season.

Hampshire at Crystal Lake South, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

The Gators host the Whip-Purs in a Fox Valley Conference crossover game. This represents a good road test for Hampshire against a South squad that is trying to put things together and improve on last season.

Grayslake North at Jacobs,

6:30 p.m. Tuesday

The Knights showed they’re capable of winning, even when not playing their best, as evidenced with their win against the Thunder in penalty kicks. Jacobs has an opportunity to build some momentum with divisional play approaching.

– Meghan Montemurro,

mmontemurro@shawmedia.com

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