Nike/LM HS Midwest Report: The Illinois Food Chain
GRAYSLAKE, Ill. – The Grayslake North (Ill.) boys' lacrosse team starts six sophomores.
So, when the Knights won nine of their first 10 games, including a quality victory over La Jolla (Calif.), it came as a bit of a surprise.
The results are no fluke, though.
Sophomore midfielder Dami Oladunmoye is drawing interest from schools like Air Force, Marquette, Rutgers and Syracuse, according to coach Brad Fish. He currently has 21 goals, 10 assists and 24 ground balls. He also plays tailback for the school's football team.
Nike/LM Midwest Boys' Top 10
1. Culver Military (Ind.), 9-4
Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) has responded well after nearly upsetting Brother Rice (Mich.). The Wolves have recorded four straight victories, including one the next day against University Detroit Jesuit (Mich.) and a recent victory over one-loss Columbus DeSales (Ohio). They were particularly strong coming out of the locker room in that one, with four goals in the first quarter and three in the third, compared to none in the second and fourth. … MICDS (Mo.) is glad to be back playing in the Midwest, following its East coast swing with five straight wins, including road routs of Eureka (Mo.) and Christian Brothers (Mo.), typically among their best in-state rivals. … The Forest Hills Central (Mich.) Rangers are perfect through six games, though half of their wins have come against teams with a .500 record or below. … Lake Forest (Ill.) cracked the Midwest Top 10 by faring well against top Florida competition and racking up wins over Glenbrook North(Ill.) and Grayslake North (Ill.), both of whom have held spots in this year’s regional rankings.
No one slighted Detroit Country Day (Mich.) for falling to Culver Military (Ind.) and Hill Academy (Canada). Losing to Cranbrook (Mich.) at home is a different story. Cranbrook is a good program, but still, the Yellowjackets need to prove they belong in the regional rankings.
"He's one of those kids that's pretty much just a freak athlete," Fish said.
Classmate Griffin Patton has been superb as well, with 15 goals and 20 assists, and has "come a long way," according to Fish.
Patton and his teammates will have to learn consistency as they enter a more difficult part of their schedule. Patton notched four goals and three assists in an overtime win over a dark horse Saint Viator (Ill.) team. Two nights later against Lake Forest (Ill.) wasn't so great.
"The sky's the limit for him," Fish said. "I don't even need that. I just need half of that."
If Patton and his teammates can start performing on a nightly basis, Fish believes there is room for his team to move up in the discussion of the state's top teams. Saint Viator took powerhouse Loyola Academy (Ill.) to overtime. Libertyville beat Glenbrook North, another top contender. Glenbrook North lost to New Trier, but it was a gritty 5-3 stalemate.
Perhaps for once, Illinois is anyone's state.
"In Illinois, the state of high school lacrosse has been New Trier and Loyola," Fish said. "I think what you have [this year] is you've got eight or nine teams that are all fairly similar, maybe New Trier being a little bit at the top of the food chain, but after that, between Glenbrook North, Loyola, Viator, us, Lake Forest, Wheaton South and Libertyville, I think (it's) any given day."
Midwest Boys' Player of the Week
Chris Motter, Hudson (Ohio)
Motter won 23 of 25 faceoffs in what essentially amounted to a Cleveland championship win over Solon (Ohio). The Explorers needed each and every one of them, as they rallied from a 9-7 deficit midway through the fourth with six unanswered goals in five minutes. He also played a key role in Hudson's dominance of ground balls (53-16), securing 18 of them. Motter had a nice game earlier in the week as well in a rout of Westlake (Ohio), helping his team to 13 of 18 faceoffs.
Other notable players: Mario Caito (Solon, Ohio), Sam Gregory (Hudson, Ohio), Griffin Patton (Grayslake North, Ill.)
Boys' Games to Watch
Glenbrook North (Ill.) at Grayslake North (Ill.), April 21
This should be an interesting battle between the Land of Lincoln team that just joined the Midwest Top 10 (Glenbrook North) at the expense of the one that just dropped out (Grayslake North). The Spartans have won seven of nine, including an impressive demolition of Tennessee's Christian Brothers. Their only losses have come to traditional powerhouses in Lake Forest (Ill.), New Trier (Ill.) and Culver Military (Ind.). The Knights boast a gaudy 9-2 record, but struggled against Lake Forest (Ill.).
Fishers (Ind.) at Zionsville (Ind.), April 25
This season is special for the Tigers. They're undefeated, and if they make it to the state final four, they'll have the luxury of playing it on their own home field. Thus far, they've beaten every team they've played by at least four goals. That might change Saturday. This certainly will be their most difficult stretch of the regular season, as they travel to Zionsville (Ind.), Culver Military (for the Eagles "B" team) and Cathedral (Ind.) in a week. The Eagles can tell the Tigers something about how to get to a final four – they've made it every year since 2009.
Nike/LM Midwest Girls' Top 10
Girls' Midwest Player of the Week
Anna Santulli, Hinsdale Central (Ill.)
The Red Devils sophomore left a legacy of her own at the 2015 Legacy Lacrosse Cup in Alpharetta, Ga. Santulli had a peachy debut, scoring nine goals in Hinsdale Central’s dethroning of Lake Norman, the top-rated team in North Carolina, according to LaxPower.com. Lambert (Ga.) couldn’t figure out a way to stop her either, as Santulli torched the Longhorns for eight goals. Santulli finished the trip with her third straight hat trick in a close loss to national No. 10 Milton (Ga.).
Other notable players: Yasmain Hamood (Hinsdale Central, Ill.), Grace Gunneson (Rockford, Mich.)
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 10-2
2. New Trier (Ill.), 7-1
3. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 9-0
4. Rockford (Mich.), 10-0
5. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 6-2
6. Sycamore (Ohio), 6-0
7. Medina (Ohio), 4-2
8. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 4-6
9. Glenbrook South (Ill.), 10-1
10. MICDS (Mo.), 8-2
Credit Loyola Academy (Ill.) for putting a pair of brutally close East Coast losses behind it. Whatever frustration the Ramblers held, they took it out on Hinsdale Central (Ill.), to the tune of a 16-6 win, and Cathedral (Ind.) 18-3. A tough, feisty Medina (Ohio) squad – on the slate for Saturday – should keep Loyola Academy playing at a high level for its April 28 trip to archrival New Trier (Ill.). … Grace Gunneson has been on a tear for undefeated Rockford (Mich.), with four goals against Bloomfield Hills (Mich.), four assists against Birmingham United (Mich.) and four goals against Sacred Heart (Mich.) on Saturday. It’s not every day a player puts up a trifecta like that. … Liza Elder has been equally good for undefeated East Grand Rapids (Mich.), with four scores in a 9-4 win over Catholic Central (Mich.).
Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Minn.) started out 7-0 last year and only ended up losing to Eden Prairie (Minn.) and the Blake School (Minn.). The Red Knights haven’t enjoyed that same level of success in 2015. They fell to a mediocre St. Charles (Ill.) last week.
Girls' Games to Watch
Montini Catholic (Ill.) at New Trier (Ill.), April 21
The Broncos were right up there with New Trier and Loyola Academy (Ill.) not long ago, which must make lopsided losses like 19-2 (to New Trier) and 17-5 (to Glenbrook South) hurt particularly badly. Tuesday offers another chance at respectability.
Glenbrook South (Ill.) at Lake Forest (Ill.), April 22
The visiting Titans have cruised to a 10-1 record, with only two games decided by three goals or fewer. Meanwhile, the host Scouts, traditionally a state power, are still trying to recover from a rough trip to Ohio's capital city, in which they lost all three games by lopsided margins. Both teams have something to prove here.
Girls' Midwest Notebook
The New Trier (Ill.) girls finally suffered their first loss of the season, to St. Ignatius (Calif.), which has played spoilsport to a bunch of elite squads this season, including St. Anne's-Belfield (Va.), whose only loss was to St. Ignatius.
Other than their three-game series in the Golden State, with all three decided by five goals or fewer, the Trevians have run roughshod over Illinois, with five wins by a combined 76-10 margin.
New Trier has a good mix of confidence and experience heading into their biggest in-state tests: Montini Catholic at home, Loyola Academy at home and Glenbrook South on the road. Combined with a tough test against Medina (Ohio), it should be a fun end of April for New Trier.
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Boys' Midwest Notebook
After playing a big part in Notre Dame's comeback victory over No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday, Brother Rice (Mich.) product Sergio Perkovic brought a postgame interview back to Midwest lacrosse.
"I'm one of the only guys from the Midwest on the team," Perkovic said. "It's awesome for the sport to see all these kids out here for a game. We have the best atmosphere in college lacrosse, and we're in the middle of Indiana."
While Perkovic has excelled on the college level with 28 goals as a freshman and 20 this season, he has also kept track of the Warriors back home.
"Coach Chawla is doing a great job - they're always at the top of Michigan lacrosse," Perkovic said. "It's awesome to see Brother Rice doing well and continuing to grow the game. I'm always looking back and seeing how they're doing."
The Saint Viator boys could be the best winless team in the Midwest.
The Lions took both Grayslake North and Loyola Academy to overtime.
Their problem is they've played an impeccably difficult schedule, with all six of their opponents boasting winning records. Combined, their six foes have a 64-10 record.
Fish said Saint Viator reminds him of Glenbrook North.
"I think Viator is as good as anybody in the state of Illinois," Fish said. "They're athletic. They get up and down the field. They don't wow you at any one specific position, but they're really sound in everything they do."
All of which means they can be a nasty lower seed come postseason time.
"They might have a sub-.500 record, but they can beat anybody," Fish said.
Nike/LM Midwest Region Report Archive
- April 14: Depth Gauge in Ohio?
- April 7: Loyola Rambles On
- March 31: Early Challenges Key
- March 24: Excellence Takes Work
- March 17: Mason's Familiar Face on New Sideline
- February 25: Preseason Top 10 and Players of the Year
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