Two weeks are in the books for boys and girls high school soccer in Northwest Indiana and the 2011 campaign. Some of the usual suspects have risen to the top of the standings again, but there have been some surprises as well. The last team to win a single-class boys soccer state championship in Indiana, the Lake Central Indians, are once again the class of the field in the Region. Led by head Coach Jeremy Rainwater, the Tribe are off to a 4-0-1 start, and a number-three state ranking in this week's Class 2A Indiana Soccer Coaches Association poll. Josh Crague, Ethan Donovan, and and Paul Junokas lead the way for the Blue Indians, while keeper Joey Majchrowicz continues to try and fill the big shoes of graduated goaltender Brandon Cloutier.
The Chesterton Trojans and the Crown Point Bulldogs will certainly have their say in the Duneland Athletic Conference boys race as the season moves along. Ben Molnar of the Trojans and Bay Kurtz of the Bulldogs are two of the more exciting and dymanic players in the area. The Golden Trojans are off to a 4-0 start, and have outscored their opponents by a 12-0 count behind the keeper tandum of Jacob Garmany and Caleb Gmyrek. The Bulldogs fell to Lake Central in a slugfest earlier this seasom, but JR Rosenbaum's side has yet to play Chesterton and Valparaiso, while Danny Jeftich's Valparaiso Vikings are always dangerous, as they continue to exhibit the slogan "tradition never graduates.
Munster and Andrean are off to fast starts in the Northwest Crossroads Conference, as they have defeated DAC forces Crown Point and Portage in recent matches. The match set for September 28th at 5959 Broadway (live on WJOB 1230 AM and rrsn.com) will go a long way in determining who wears the brass ring in the NWCC. Zarko Coric continues to score goals for the Stangs at a steady pace, while Andrean is led by a solid core of ten returning starters off of last season's sectional championship team.
Congratulations go out to Bishop Noll head coach Armando Garza, who recently picked up his 100th career win for the boys program at the school. Midfielder Angel Zamudio continues to work his magic, as the Warriors appear to be on a sectional collision course wth Pete Reist and the Andrean 59'ers in the Class 1A sectional in Hammond.
Other teams off to great starts on the boys side are Andrew Dunham's Covenant Christian Knights (3-0), Zelijko "Ziggy" Miljatovic and the Hebron Hawks (3-0), and Jorge Torres' Clark Pioneer (4-0), who are on top of the Great Lakes Athletic Conference.
On the girls side of things, don't put an egg on the top of the Crown Point Lady Bulldogs heads, you might get an omlette! They are on fire, state-ranked in the Class 2A Indiana Coaches Association poll, and scoring goals at a record pace. Their balanced attack is led by Abi Small, Amy Adams, Sarah Rivich, Rachel Marczewski, and Cassie Donsbach, while Kelsey Shoemaker keeps the opponents from tickling the onion sack. The Bulldogs match at Valparaiso on September 13th (live on WEFM 95.9 FM and rrsn.com) will more than likely be for the conference championship, but don't count out David Galloway's Chesterton Trojans, who knocked off Valparaiso 2-1 in an August showdown at the Field of Troy.
The Northwest Crossroads Conference appears to be wide open this season, as the Highland Trojans have lost leading scorer Kat Smailis to graduation, while the Munster Mustangs lost nine seniors who moved on to the college ranks. Both teams, along with the Kankakee Valley Kougars and the Griffith Panthers, have a solid nucleus of young players, mixed in with the veteran leadership of their seniors. Sophomore Hannah Wilder, who recently scored a hat trick and was nominated for our Centier Bank Performer of the Week in the Kougar's 3-2 come from behind win over the Mustangs, leads a talented and young group from Wheatfield. Sammi Koufos is the straw that stirs the drink for the Munster midfield, while Krystal Mendoza tries to fill the big shoes of graduated forward Katelyn Barta for the Griffith Panthers.
Vangal Nacovski, the all-time leading goal scorer in Northwest Indiana soccer history, has taken over at Wheeler as head coach of the girls program in Union Township, and the Bearcats rewarded his hard work with a 4-0 start. Only a recent 1-0 loss to an improved Merrillville Pirate team has kept the Bearcats from an unblemished start. Meanwhile, Jim Pattison and the Hanover Central Wildcats, who got off to an 8-0-0 start last year, are undefeated in their first three starts this year as well. Kirsten Nirtaut has scored nine goals in the first three games, while Blayr Poston has added five.
Here are some of the big matches on the horizon in Northwest Indiana, including those games that can be heard on our radio affiliates WEFM 95.9 FM Michigan City, WJOB 1230 AM Hammond, and live and archived right here on rrsn.com:
Lake Central at Munster on Thursday night, September 1st - Live on WJOB and rrsn.com with pregame show at 6:15 PM
Griffith at Wheeler on Saturday, September 3rd at 11:30 AM
Highland at Kankakee Valley on Tuesday, September 6th - Live on WJOB and rrsn.com
with pregame show at 6:15 PM
Highland at Valparaiso on Saturday, September 3rd at 11:30 AM
Chesterton at Munster on Saturday, September 3rd at 11:30 AM
Sincere thanks to all and we'll see you at the games!