STATEMENT GAMES: Stagg's first title after 12-year drought worth bragging about

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 3 Stagg tennis with statement games


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Michal Wolan, a sophomore at Stagg, won a sectional title Saturday and helped his team to its first sectional title since 2003. 

Stagg won its first boys tennis sectional championship since 2003 and Chargers coach John Daniels did a lot of bragging…

…about his counterpart at Sandburg.

From 2004 to 2015, Sandburg won 11 out of 12 titles (Marist won one in 2009) while Stagg was getting shut out. The first thing Daniels did after clinching the Stagg Sectional on Saturday was to heap praise on Eagles coach Brian Ostrander.

“He’s probably the best coach in the south suburbs,” Daniels said. “You can tell by how much his team improves. He’s a really good coach.’’

But Daniels had plenty of time to give some love to his team, which scored 31 points to hold off the Eagles, who had 24.

Michal Wolan, whose brother Brendan won the previous two individual sectional titles, kept the family tradition going as the sophomore was beating Sandburg’s Jonluke Passett, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 3-2 before Passett retired. The Sandburg senior left-hander battled through injuries all season but still qualified for the state tournament for the fourth straight year.

“I think Michal got it together after the first set,” Daniels said. “I think he was nervous in the first set and was trying to go for winners every time. But after that, he understood that by making Jonluke work a little bit, you don’t have to hit it hard to have a winner.’’

Wolan qualified for state as a freshman in doubles and went 2-2 with partner Warren Wudtke.

The state meet begins today, Thursday, at various sites in the north and western suburbs.

“I just need to keep playing my game and finishing,” Wolan said. “I actually had fun last year – I enjoyed it very much. I can’t wait until I play there this year.’’

Stagg freshman Kevin Wancik will make his state debut after claiming third on Saturday and Shepard junior Paul Milkus will make his second state appearance after taking fourth.

Stagg’s doubles team of Patrick Harper-Luke Schendl, Sandburg’s Adam Caridi-Anthony Coffel, Oak Lawn’s Michael Rodriguez-Patrick Skupien and Chicago Christian’s Charlie Blim-Li Zhang finished first through fourth respectively and will head to state.

At the University High Sectional in Chicago, both of Brother Rice’s doubles teams made it to state as Ryan Cunnea-Brenden Leibforth finished third and TJ Saas-Joe Mendala took fourth. Cunnea is a Crestwood resident while Leibforth is from Evergreen Park, Saas is from Chicago and Mendala is from Oak Lawn.


At Downers Grove North: Sandburg was the lone team from the area to win a sectional title as the Eagles won the Class 3A sectional Friday night racking up 98 points – 10 ahead of runner-up Lockport.

The Eagles’ sectional champs were Chris Torpy in the 800-meter run (1 minute, 54.36 seconds) and his twin brother Sean Torpy in the 1600 (4:12.65) plus the 4x800 relay team (7:42.70).

Other Eagles who qualified for the state meet, which opens Friday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, were Ayo Abiona in the 100 and 200, Jibreel Brown in the 400, Dylan Jacobs in the 1600 and the 4x100 relay team.

Shepard qualified three athletes – Neiko Carter in the long jump, Caleb Washington in the 3200 and Corey Williams in the 100 high hurdles.

At Morton: Brother Rice had a sectional champion with Jelani Edmond in the discus with a heave of 155 feet, 9 inches. Also qualifying for the Class 3A state meet was Tajh Silas in the 110 high hurdles.

At Glenbard South: In Class 2A, two St Laurence athletes won sectional titles to extend retiring coach Terry Murphy’s season for one more week. Murphy has coached at the Burbank school for 40 years.

The Vikings’ Doug Kosch won the shot put with a 44-9 ½ and Lonnie Chambers won the discus with a 144-8.

Evergreen Park’s Joey Ryan qualified in the pole vault.

At Seneca: In Class 1A, the Chicago Christian 4x400 relay team (3:35.71) and Elijah Butler (200, :22.18) were sectional champs and will compete at state. The Class 1A meet starts Thursday.

Also qualifying were Ben Friesen in the 400 and the 4x800, 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.


The St. Laurence No. 1 boat finished 28th out of 64 teams while the No. 2 boat took 48th at the state meet Friday and Saturday at Carlyle Lake in Carlyle.

The first boat, featuring Matt Misicka and Paul Petan, caught three fish totaling 4 pounds and 9/16th ounces. The second, featuring Anthony Ptak and Brandon Cavanaugh, caught one for 1 3/16th.

It was the fourth time the Vikings qualified for state and the first time the school qualified two boats.

Elkville (Elverado) won the state title with 10 fish totaling 21 5/16th.



Fire and Red Stars analysis and notes

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 2 FIRE 12

 Photo by Jeff Vorva

Arturo Alvarez jumps over DeMarcus Beasley (left) and goalie Tyler Deric prior to scoring the lone goal in Saturday’s 1-0 Fire win over Houston.


WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview



LAST TIME: Portland, the defending MLS champ, beat the Fire 1-0 Aug. 7 in Portland thanks to a Fanendo Adi goal in the 22nd minute.

Fire makes Dynamo suffer


A little more than 24 hours after Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Ridriguez hosted a roundtable with the media and proclaimed “we have not made other teams suffer,” his troops went out and made another team suffer.

The Fire, which entered Saturday’s match in last place in the Major Soccer League Eastern Conference won its second match of the year and first since April 2 after a 1-0 victory over Houston, the last place team in the Western Conference.

Arturo Alvarez jumped over former Fire star Demarcus Beasley and goalie Tyler Deric for a clear path to score in the third minute and goalie Sean Johnson, playing in just his second game of the year, notched his first win and shutout since Aug. 2.

“I thought he (Deric) was going to clean me out but I stuck with it and fortunately it went my way,’’ Alvarez said. 

While a win over another last-place team is nothing to turn cartwheels over, it looms large because the Eastern Conference is filled with teams that are not on fire and a couple of more victories will get the Fire (2-5-4) quickly back into the playoff conversation.

So this week, while preparing for defending MSL champion Portland, which is suffering on its own and trying to stay out of the Western Conference basement, the Fire can feel happy after ending a four-match-in-11-day period with a win.

“With what we have gone through, I am happy for everyone who stepped on the field today and gave their all,” said Johnson. “We have to build on this win. Any positive you can get, you have to run with it.’’  

Beasley back briefly

Beasley, a defender who played with the Fire from 2000-2004 and had 16 goals, made his first trip back after spending many years playing abroad, including a stint with Manchester City, he is back in the Untied State playing in the MLS.

But Beasley, who turned 34 Tuesday, left the match in the 13th minute after aggravating a previous unnamed injury.

After the match, he tweeted that he took responsibility for the loss and shouldn’t have played.

 Accam suspended

 David Accam, the Fire’s scoring star who missed most of the season with a knee injury but played against New England and the New York Red Bulls, sat out another game – this time for a disciplinary reason.

Accam was fined and suspended by Major League Soccer for a play against the Red Bulls that “endangered the safety of an opponent” according to an MLS news release.

Rodriguez said that while the Fire accepted the punishment without protest, “David is not a dirty player.’’

 Hunt for the hunt

The Fire entered the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competition again and will enter the tournament in the fourth round and will play June 15 either at home against Indy Eleven or on the road against Louisville City. Indy and Lousiville square off Wednesday.

Since 1998, the Fire have compiled a 39-13-4 record in Open Cup play, including a 26-1-1 record in matches played in Illinois.



When: 6 p.m., Sunday

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview

Red Stars record: 4-1-1

Sky Blue record: 2-3-1

Last time: The Red Stars won 3-0 June 28 in New Jersey. Vanessa DiBernardo scored in the sixth minute to set the tone and Jen Hoy and Alyssa Mautz added goals.

Leaving an Olympic-sized void -- three stars from first-place Red Stars will be missing for Sunday’s Sky Blue game


The three stars of the Chicago Red Stars – goal machine Christen Press, red-hot goalie goalie Alyssa Naeher and super defender Julie Johnston – will be missing when the team hosts Sky Blue on Sunday at Toyota Park and it will be interesting to see how the team functions without them.

The big three, who will likely make the final cut for the United States Olympic team, will join 22 others for the U.S. in a pair of matches against Japan in June and they are scheduled to leave for training camp on Friday.

The Red Stars (4-1-1) are coming off Sunday’s 2-1 road victory over the Seattle Reign, which ties them with Washington for first place in the National Women’s Soccer League.

In the past, Red Stars coach Rory Dames has expressed confidence in his roster and said that when the Olympians are gone, there is still quality players on the team.

Jen Hoy stepped up on Sunday and put in a pair of goals against Seattle, which played without star goalie Hope Solo who had a death in her family. If Hoy keeps it up, she will be able to help make up for the offensive void left by Press (three goals, which ties her with six others for the National Women’s Soccer League lead).

Replacing Naeher won’t be easy after she racked up 485 minutes of shutout work before Seattle’s Kim Little score on a penalty kick in the 89th minute. Naeher just missed setting a league record of five straight shutouts because of Little’s kick.

Look for Michelle Dalton of Mount Prospect to get the call in the net on Sunday. She started 12 games last year and recorded five shutouts and had 47 saves.

Johnston has had some injury issues this season with the Red Stars and Katie Naughton of Elk Grove Village replaced her so that transition should be smooth this weekend.

Sky Blue, which is based in New Jersey, had gone seven matches on the road without a loss until losing to the New York Flash, 5-2, on Saturday night.


Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Fire players downplay heroic act

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



The popular “Chicago Fire” television show features actors playing characters who pretend to save lives.

And if they mess up, these fine actors get a shot at doing it again. And again. And again…

On May 11, members of the Chicago Fire were involved in a life-threatening situation on live TV. And if they messed up, they didn’t get another chance. And they only had seconds to react.

The Fire was on the road playing Vancouver and in the 11th minute, Fire goalie Matt Lampson and the Whitecaps’ Masato Kudo collided.

The 6-foot-3 Lampson‘s shoulder connected hard with the 5-9 Kudo’s face and Kudo hit the ground and hit his head on the ground. On TV, it looked bad. But it was even worse than it looked.

Kudo bit his tongue and lip during the impact and blood was flowing.

Vice Sports tweeted that it was “one of the scariest hits you’ll see in soccer.’’ Sportsnet had video of the play and issued a warning that it “may be difficult to watch for some.’’  

Lampson, Joao Meira and Razvan Cocis immediately gathered around the fallen soccer player but they didn’t just stand around waiting for the trainer to come. Some swift action was taken.

"I think Joao turned him over, it was a smart move because he (Kudo) had blood in his mouth,’’ Cocis said after the game. “When I got there, I tried to put my finger in his mouth to take his tongue out so he didn't swallow it.

“His mouth was stuck so I forced him to open it and tried to keep his tongue out and then the medical staff came. I'm glad he's okay, I hope he's going to be fine."

Well, Kudo is alive but not all that fine. He suffered a fractured jaw and underwent surgery the next day.

A few days later, Kudo gave public kudos to the Fire players as he Tweeted “Thank you for saving my life” and singled out Lampson, Meira and Cocis.

But no one is patting themselves on the back in Fire camp.

“We’re brothers in the game,” Lampson said. “Credit to the guys on the field because they responded quickly and no doubt helped him. I wish him the best and credit to both organizations for handling it as well as possible."

Even Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez low-keyed what his troops did.

“Any player on any team would have done that in that moment,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t necessarily believe that Razvan and all the guys were any more special than any other player. That’s the code.’’

Maybe, but I don’t know if that code extends to digging into another man’s bloody mouth and rooting around seeking a tongue.

These guys reacted fast and did the right thing.

They may not think it’s a big deal, but it is.

Just ask Masato Kudo.


High school focus: Fab freshmen 'explode on diamond' for Pride

  • Written by Anthony Nasella


Page 3 q of p freshmen


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Ashley Lynch, left in catcher's gear, and shortstop Kelly Walinski have made an immediate impact as freshmen for Queen of Peace’s softball team. 


When Kelly Small accepted the head softball post at Queen of Peace she knew she was coming aboard to guide a team loaded with experienced seniors.

But nothing prepared Small for the twofold surprise that came in the form of a pair of talented first-year players.

Freshmen catcher Ashley Lynch and shortstop Kelly Walinski are skilled on defense and emerged as offensive juggernauts who have helped Queen of Peace to an above .500 record (12-11-1 through in its first 24 games) with promise for the future.

Heading into this week, Lynch was leading the team with a sizzling .512 battering average, while slugging four home runs, driving in 35 runs and scoring 21. Walinski was hitting .446, with five dingers, 27 RBI, and 32 runs scored.

“We have eight talented seniors on this team, but Ashley and Kelly have exploded on the diamond for lack of a better description,” said Small, who coached Oak Lawn’s frosh-soph team the past four years and graduated from Oak Lawn Community High School.  “I was curious how they would perform with so many seniors, and they’ve blended in wonderfully.’’

Small said she likes Lynch’s skills behind the plate and the way she works with four-year starting pitcher Lindsey Kuducki.

“Ashley doesn’t miss anything, especially when she’s paired with Lindsey,” Small said. “She calls every single pitch, and she’s not afraid to throw the ball as far picking runners off the keeping them on the bag. She’s already one of the best catchers in the area.”

For Walinkski, a native of Worth, Small measures her stellar play at shortstop by the volume of dirt on her uniform.

“Her uniform is never clean and is the first one to get down and dirty,” Small said. “We have a saying in our infield that nothing get through without blood, sweat and tears on it, and Kelly is the epitome of that saying. She’s so passionate about the game and how she plays it; her range is just amazing.’’

Lynch, who calls LaGrange home, admitted to having some initial trepidation about playing on a team full of seniors.

“I was afraid they wouldn’t like me because I was a freshman,” she said. “Would I fit in with them? As soon as tryouts came, they were all so nice to me. It was so easy to get along with them. They treated me the same. It’s been an amazing experience.’’

Walinski said she never imagined the opportunity to play – much less contribute at a significant level – as a freshman.

“I certainly didn’t expect going in that I would be starting as a freshman at shortstop,” she said. “Ashely and I started on fire together, and my teammates have been the best. I know I wouldn’t be playing at the level I‘m playing at without them.’’

Both freshmen credit their emerging games on the exposure to quality competition through their respective travel softball teams. Lynch plays for the Berwyn Bash and Walinski is part of the Orland Sparks.

“I think I learned the most from my dad, John, and my travel coach Tommy Blood,” Lynch said. “I wouldn’t be the player I am without them.’’

Walinski credits Sparks coach Katlyn Braget in helping her realize her potential.

“Playing travel ball definitely prepared me for varsity and has put me at an advantage,” Walinksi said. “When you face good competition, it takes your game to a higher level.”

With the play of Lynch and Walinski blending in with established players like Kudecki and third-base fielding extraordinaire Caitlin Fitzgerald, 

Small is not putting any limits on what her team is capable of doing in the postseason – which kicks off Tuesday in the Class 3A Lemont Regional when the Pride faces Chicago Noble.

“We’ve played a very challenging schedule, and the girls have played competitive all season,” she said. “Five of our losses have been by just one run, so I like what we have with this team. We’re excited about the challenge of the postseason.”

Stagg honors 12 college signees

Stagg High School recently held a ceremony to honor 12 athletes who will continue sports at the college level.

In baseball, Josh Nowak is heading to Gulf Coast State, Jack Philgren to Robert Morris University and Max Downs will play for Parkland Community College.  

In tennis Leeza Bodnar and Silvia Kulbokas are heading to Lake Forest, in dancing, Taryn Mousatkas is heading to St. Ambrose, in softball, Amber Green committed to Roosevelt, in volleyball Heather Fane is heading to Moraine Valley and in track, David Cooling is attending Northwood University and Jordan Houlihan is heading to Valparaiso.  

In football, Josh Sterling is heading to Robert Morris University and in soccer, Jazmin Castanon will go to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Eight from McAuley moving up

Mother McAuley softball players Kara Bischoff (Illinois Wesleyan), Molly Murphy (Cardinal Stritch) and Alison Alberts (St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame) committed to colleges as did water polo standouts Geena Peyton (George Washington University), Maggie Hennidan (Carthage) and Julia Olivares (St. Francis) and track stars Alexandria Bryant (Western Michigan) and Ashley Canner (Lake Forest).

Rafacz named OL Athlete of the Week

The Oak Lawn Spartan Athlete of the Week for May 2 was junior second baseman on the softball team, Natalia Rafacz who, in in three games was 6-for-11 (.545) with four runs scored and four RBI.



Fire and Red Stars notes and analysis

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE 2 PAUNO with Fire

 Photo by Jeff Vorva

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic is trying to stay positive even though his team entered this week with an MLS-worst record of 1-4-4.


WHEN: 4 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview

FIRE RECORD: 1-4-4 (before Wednesday night’s game against NY Red Bulls)


LAST TIME: The two teams engaged in a 1-1 draw July 3 in Houston. Patrick Nyarko scored the tying goal for the Fire in the 72nd minute.

Last-place Fire coming back home to face last-place Dynamo

The Chicago Fire continued to have its offensive woes in Saturday’s 2-0 road loss at New England, but who knew that a yelling match between two Columbus Crew teammates would impact this game on defense?

Columbus’s Kei Kamara, an offensive machine who scored 22 goals in Major League Soccer games last year, screamed at teammate Frederico Higuain after a  4-4 tie with Montreal on May 7.

The Crew had enough of Kamera’s antics and traded him to New England, where he made his debut for the Revolution on Saturday against the Fire. While he didn’t score, his presence changed the dynamic of the Revolution offense and put two goals past Fire goalie Matt Lampson to keep Chicago winless since 2014 – a span of 29 games.

Even with David Accam returning from a left injury suffered March 11 and Khaly Thiam making his Fire debut, the offense continued to sputter as Chicago had no shots on goal and four shots total.

That setback came three days after a 2-1 loss to Vancouver, in which the Fire played without injured Accam, John Goossens and Gilberto and Thiam did not have a visa to Canada.

In the first half, Lampson and Vancouver’s Masato Kudo collided and Kudo left the game.

Blas Perez came into the game and scored both goals for the Whitecaps, including a bicycle kick in the 89th minute. The gives the Fire two losses in which it gave up the decisive goal late in the game. The Fire fell 2-1 against Montreal on April 16 when the winning goal came in stoppage time.

The Fire, which is in last place in the Eastern Conference played against the New York Red Bulls on the road Wednesday and will come home to play another last-place team, Houston, to finish a five-game-in-17-day span on Saturday at Toyota Park.

Through the misery of entering this week with an MLS-worst 1-4-4 mark, first-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic is staying positive.

“We have right players and the right guys,” the coach said on Monday. “Of course we know where we are in the standings but for sure we will work hard and stay focused and will improve. Nobody likes to see where we are in the standing but everyone is still very committed and working hard to make it better.

“I absolutely believe in our guys. It’s obvious that we have to win games and improve and we will do that.’’

  Accam is back

Accam came into the second half of the New England game and played 45 minutes even though Paunovic was hoping to play him less. But the Fire had no offense going in the first half and trailed 1-0 and the coach was hoping Accam (who had two goals in his first two games before the injury) could give the team a shot in the arm. He was able to get just one shot off.

"I felt good,’’ Accam said. “It showed that I haven't played in two months; I felt a little bit rusty, but I'm so happy to be on the pitch again playing." 

Paunovic would not speculate how much Accam would play in Wednesday’s game against the New York Red Bulls or Saturday’s game against Houston.

Hungry de Leeuw joins Fire

After much speculation, the Fire finally acquired 26-year-old Dutch forward Michael de Leeuw Tuesday and signed him to a three-year deal with an option for a fourth.

“Michael hungers to score goals and win,” Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said.

de Leeuw scored 46 goals in 117 league matches for FC Groningen in four seasons.




WHEN: 6 p.m., Sunday

WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Seattle



LAST TIME: The Red Stars entered the seventh game of the season leading the National Women’s Soccer League in scoring May 30 averaging two goals per game, but were held scoreless in a 0-0 draw.

Another no-no before facing Solo

On Sunday, arguably two of the top goalies in the world will be facing each other when the Red Stars visit Seattle.

Seattle has Hope Solo, who will likely be the United States’ goalie in the Olympics this year.

The Red Stars have Alyssa Naehler, who will be fighting for a shot on the team to likely be a backup to Solo.

As a prelude to the showdown with Solo, Naehler put on a show Friday night and her play in the net helped earn the Red Stars a point in the standings in a 0-0 draw against two-time defending National Women’s Soccer League champion FC Kansas City at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City.

While the offense continued to have its problems (four goals in five matches) the defense had a couple of breakdowns against the Blues but some key saves by Naehler allowed her to go 396 minutes without allowing a goal and now has four shutouts on the season.

A couple of stops later in the match were huge.

In the 70th minute, there was a one-on-one situation between Naehler and KC’s France Silva, Naehler deflected the ball into onto the crossbar, where it bounced out of harm’s way. A few minutes later, a Mandy Laddish shot was deflected by the goalie’s right knee and at the 84-minute mark, she kick-saved a Katie Bowen attempt.

“There is an exceptional presence, a calmness and confidence, with Alyssa that spreads into the backline and the midfield,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said. “She has played on the biggest stage and knows how to close out games, which has helped us tremendously.”

Naeher finished with six saves.

The Red Stars were active on offense with eight shots on goal, but could not score.

Hugs for Jen

Former Red Stars player Jen Buczkowski retired after the game and received hugs from Dames and Red Stars players.

She was presented a bouquet of flowers before the game and some of her accomplishments were read to the crowd.

In her NWSL career, The Elk Grove native appeared in six title games and won five championships. She started all 76 games of her career and played 6,745 out of a possible 6,840 minutes. She is the only player in the league’s history to play in every game.