High School Game of the Week - May 28 2014

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Claire Ramsey's big night propels Nazareth to win over Wheaton Academy

By Rob Valentin

GIRLS SOCCER — Nazareth freshman Claire Ramsey should have been scared — or at least a little bit nervous — as Nazareth and Wheaton Academy squared off in the Class 2A Wheaton St. Francis Sectional semifinals on Tuesday night.

After all, Ramsey was playing in the most important game of her career and it’s her first year in high school. But the freshman was as cold as ice as she drilled home a pair of goals, the last coming with 2:34 to play in the second half to give the Roadrunners a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Warriors.

“In the past we’ve gone to overtime games and they’ve never ended well,” Ramsey said. “They’re always pretty nerve-wracking. I knew we had to get it in the last five minutes. So when Kelly (Renehan) played that great ball back to me, I just knew that was going in.”

The game-winning goal for Nazareth (13-7-2) came on a beautiful assist by Renehan, who passed it to Ramsey at the top of the box. Ramsey slammed it home into the upper right corner with her right foot.

“We’ve had so many obstacles and setbacks this season, this is a really great victory for us and the program,” Ramsey said.
Wheaton Academy (12-12-1) couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. Less than a minute in, freshman Gretchen Pearson scored after a rebound on a shot by Rebecca Smith.

“I told myself that I’m putting it in the back of the net,” Pearson said.

The lead wouldn’t last long. With 20:15 to play in the first half, Ramsey got her first goal of the night. The score would remain tied at 1-1 until Renehan’s pass to Ramsey led to the final goal of the night.

“It was so exciting,” Renehan said. “We’ve been wanting a regional win all season and to know we fought our hardest to get to the sectional finals, it’s amazing.”
Renehan never had a doubt that Ramsey was going to put her pass into the back of the net.

“Whenever I dribble it down I always look to see if there’s anyone in the top of the box,” Renehan said. “She’s always there and I saw a split so I hit it right there. Right after I passed it I was like ‘She better get this in’.”

Ramsey’s shot did go in and the Roadrunners advanced to the sectional final, which will be held on Friday night. They’ll play the winner of Wednesday’s game between Hinsdale South and Glenbard South. Their game was pushed back a day after thunderstorms swept into the area after the conclusion of Nazareth’s game.

While the Roadrunners advance, the Warriors go home. And it was a game that could have gone either way.

“It was really disappointing,” Pearson said. “Everyone was trying super hard to score and hoping anything can go in.”

High School Game of the Week - May 19 2014

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Fenwick's Mrozek returns to the mound, leads Friars past Nazareth

By Rob Valentin

SOFTBALL— Fenwick senior Jessica Mrozek took the mound against Nazareth last Thursday with a whole lot of rust on her arm.

Mrozek was pitching for the first time since she injured her lower back in the first game of the season.

The long layoff apparently had no effect on the right-hander as she dominated, leading the Friars to a 2-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference home win.

“It was nice to get back out there and doing something good for my team,” Mrozek said. “It did feel pretty good to get back on the mound and throw. Honestly. I haven’t thrown in so long. I was just happy to help out my team in any way I can.”

Mrozek, who scattered five hits and struck out six batters in the complete game shutout, kept the Roadrunners off balance all day long with a filthy change-up that had Nazareth runners getting out in front of the pitch.

“My change-up is my favorite and best pitch to throw,” Mrozek said. “[Catcher Michaela Monaco] did well behind the plate, blocking balls and calling pitches.”

Fenwick (12-15, 5-11) broke through offensively against Nazareth in the bottom of the first inning with some timely two-out hitting. Valerie Perrelli clubbed a two-out double and was followed by an RBI single from Mrozek. It turns out that run would be the only one Mrozek needed.

But the Friars did add one more run in the second inning. Freshman Giselle Diaz led off the inning with a triple and Summer Caliendo drove her in with a single.

“I just knew I had to hit, put something down to score my teammate,” Caliendo said. “I had to do what I had to do. [Nazareth pitcher Cat Klostermann) was throwing balls and I thought I was going to get walked but a perfect one came down there and I just kind of had to hit it.”

Getting a big conference win late in the season should help give Fenwick a little momentum as it looks to win its second straight sectional title.

“We were kind of on a losing streak but we kind of pumped it up and won against Loyola and a couple other teams so this one was pretty big for us,” Caliendo said.
Klostermann was the hard luck loser for the Roadrunners. She pitched well, allowing just the two runs on six hits in six innings of work.

“On a defensive perspective I felt we were solid today,” Klostermann said. “Offensively it would have been nice to see a couple runs get pushed across. Overall, if we just come back with strong hitting, I think we should be okay."

The Friars have the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A Trinity Sectional and they host a regional. Fenwick will square off against the winner of No. 19-seeded Von Steuben vs. No. 15-seeded Northside in the regional semifinals on May 27.

The Roadrunners are the No. 6 seed in the Glenbard South Sectional. They open play on May 28 against No. 9-seeded St. Edward in the Nazareth Regional semifinals.

High School Game of the Week - May 13 2014

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Elmwood Park beats archrival Ridgewood

By Rob Valentin

GIRLS SOCCER — There’s no doubt that Ridgewood and Elmwood Park are each other’s biggest rival.

So when the two teams squared off on Thursday night, both teams were completely focused on getting the win and bragging rights.

The game remained scoreless for the first 55 minutes of play but Elmwood Park freshman Maggie Connelly finally got the game’s first and only goal with 24:53 to play in the second half to lead to a 1-0 victory. Her score came on a perfectly placed free kick by senior Kelly Scanlon.

“Before the game I said I was going to score a goal with my left foot and Kelly’s assist just helped me do that,” Connelly said. “I just went for the kick and (the goalie] wasn’t there and I was and I kicked it in.”

Scanlon saw the play developing when she went for the free kick and knew exactly where to put it.

“I tried to play back post but I saw Maggie was already running in so I thought she would keep running and it would hit her foot,” Scanlon said. “So I guess it worked it out.”

The win meant a lot for the Tigers, especially after seeing other Elmwood Park teams drop their rivalry games to Ridgewood.

“It means everything because literally every sport it’s the biggest rivalry,” Scanlon said. “Softball lost to them, football lost to them in a big game, basketball lost to them so having soccer win against our rival is a big achievement.”

Going against their biggest rival, Elmwood Park made sure to bring a little something extra to the game.

“We had a big talk on the bus and were getting pumped up,” Connelly said. “We knew we were going to win. We played so hard. This is probably the hardest we’ve played in a game so far.”

On the other side, Ridgewood will have to settle for playing a close game that they just couldn’t quite pull out.

“We were really excited all throughout school…but we fell short,” Cettina Nardulli said. “Hopefully they’ll get them next year.”

The Rebels biggest problem on Thursday was letting Scanlon dominate the game and taking too long to get going.

“I think some girls just let her fly right past and kind of gave up on it,” Nardulli said. “I don’t know if they were intimidated. They just needed an extra push. We don’t wake up until it’s the last five minutes of the game and we’re down and then it comes too late.”

High School Game of the Week - May 6 2014

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Hinsdale Central dominates at Pitchford Invite

By Rob Valentin

BOYS TENNIS — Hinsdale Central’s quest towards a third straight state championship remained on course after the Red Devils turned in an impressive performance at the Pitchford Invite on Saturday.

Hinsdale Central nearly recorded a perfect score at the meet and finished with a total of 76 points, easily besting Lake Forest (2nd, 50) and New Trier (3rd, 48).

What made the win even more incredible was that one of their top players, junior Michael Lorenzini who was third in state at singles last year, left the team just two weeks earlier to focus on USTA tournaments.

“We have a lot of depth and a lot of kids stepped up,” Hinsdale Central coach John Naisbitt said. “It’s ‘next man up’ and it’s really a product of the excellent tradition of tennis at Hinsdale Central.”

Proving that point was what the Red Devils’ No. 1 doubles team did at Pitchford. Senior Chase Hamilton and Lope Adelakun had been playing together for a little more than a week yet they managed to navigate a deep and talented field to make it to the title match.

The duo then defeated Stevenson’s Colin Harvey and Andrew Komarov 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Harvery and Komarov took third place in state last year at doubles and yet the Hinsdale Central pair were able to nab a win over them even after losing the first set.

“This definitely boosts our confidence,” Adelakun added. “Knowing that we’ve only played eight matches [together] was a little scary coming into this tournament but now we definitely feel like we can do big things.”

No. 1 singles was no surprise as Hinsdale Central’s Martin Joyce, the defending state singles champion, dominated his way to the title. He beat Lake Forest’s Peter Tarwid 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the finale.

“Every guy I go up against, they’re bringing their best tennis because you kind of have that target on your back,” said Joyce, who is now 16-0.

He did get one small scare after he dropped the first set in the quarterfinals to Downers South’s Tony Leto. It’s the only set he’s lost to an Illinois player this year.

“It was a little scary there at points, but to come back from a set down and win the match is always a good feeling,” Joyce said.

Hinsdale Central was also victorious at No. 2 singles, where Eddie Grabill (16-1) beat phenomenal freshman Stefano Tsorotiotis of Libertyville 6-1, 7-6 (3) for first place.

“I thought I played really well,” Grabill said. “I knew I was going to have three real tough matches. I was really pleased with myself to get through them and come out on top.”

The only thing that prevented the Red Devils from a clean sweep was New Trier’s Scott Bickel and Thomas Hanley. The duo beat Hinsdale Central’s Jim Bruning and Michael Czlonka 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 for the title at No. 2 doubles.

High School Game of the Week - April 29 2014

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Leyden rallies for wild win over Willowbrook

By Rob Valentin

SOFTBALL — Friday’s West Suburban Gold match between Leyden and Willowbrook won’t be used in any textbooks explaining superb defense.

Both teams combined to commit 11 errors in the game but the Eagles brought plenty of hitting to The Stadium at the Ballpark, smashing 17 hits en route to a 12-7 victory in Rosemont.

“This win really means a lot to us because we want to keep going further within the conference,” said Leyden second baseman Samantha Caputo. “We didn’t go too far last year and I really think we can go far this year.”

Leyden overcame a slow start when the Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning. The Eagles got two back in the bottom of the frame and two more in the third to take a 5-4 advantage.

The big break for Leyden came in the fourth inning. Twelve players batted in the fourth and Leyden put up a six-spot on the board. Caputo had a big two-run double in the inning and finished 2-for-3 with three RBI and two run scored.

“I’ve kind of been in a slump lately so it was nice to come out of that slump and really hit hard and up the middle, “ Caputo said.

Willowbrook was able to get a rally going in the seventh inning when they were down 12-4. They put up three runs in the seventh but Eagles’ pitcher Kendall Duwall got the final runner to groundout with two runners on base. Duwall may have given up seven runs but the errors extended the two innings where Willowbrook did most of its damage.

Duwall also had a big day at the plate, with a single, double and a triple. She drove in two runs and scored twice but she was just glad the team did well.

“Today was huge,” Duwall said. “Our offense was really on point. Recently we haven’t been hitting that well. But today we really just came up and started hitting. We weren’t just hitting singles, we were hitting doubles and triples so everyone came in and that’s why we had so many runs.

Sam Schmidt led Willowbrook with a two run double in the seventh that started the Warriors' final rally.

“We tried to stay calm and relaxed,” Schmidt said. “We got a little nervous there and started making more errors. I think we all got a little excited that we started to come back a little bit.”

With the win, Leyden improved to 11-6 overall and 2-1 in conference. Meanwhile, Willowbrook fell to 7-5 overall and 1-1 in conference.

High School Game of the Week - April 23rd 2014

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Tarwid, Lake Forest look sharp at Deerfield quad

By Rob Valentin

BOYS TENNIS — Lake Forest’s Peter Tarwid put together a pretty impressive run in the state tournament last year, finishing sixth overall after losing to Stevenson’s Jeremy Bush in the consolation finals.

The 6-foot-2 Tarwid, who will play tennis at Brown University in the fall, is off to a good start this season with a 3-0 record. He picked up wins over Bush’s younger brother, Ben Bush (6-4, 6-1) and Deerfield’s Noah Rosenblat (6-1, 6-4) at the Deerfield quad on Saturday.

“I thought today was a pretty good day,” Tarwid said. “I was serving well and swinging through the balls. I’ve been working really hard, especially after I committed. I’m putting more hours in and I think I’m ready to take on the challenge.”

Tarwid has seen a lot of progress in his game from last year and he has high hopes for this season.

“I think the biggest improvement is my net game and also my ability to win more free points on my serve,” Tarwid said. “That brings up my whole game so I feel pretty confident.”

Lake Forest (5-0) won the quad with a 7-0 rout of Fremd, a 6-1 win over Deerfield and a 4-3 victory over Stevenson. Lake Forest and Stevenson (3-3) tied for second in state last year while Deerfield (7-3) was fifth.

The quad featured two other players with plenty of state experience. Stevenson’s Colin Harvey and Andrew Komarov were third place in doubles at state last year and they went 2-0 on Saturday. Their big win came in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Lake Forest’s Scott Christian and Connor O’Kelly.

“We were really psyched for the Lake Forest match,” Komarov said. “We knew exactly where they were on our schedule and they’re a conference rival. We knew they were hungry to play us so Colin and I came out really ready to go. I thought we played some of our best tennis.”

Deerfield finished in second place at the quad thanks to a 5-2 win over Stevenson in the final match of the day. Rosenblat picked up his marquee win of the season by defeating Harvey 6-4, 1-6, 10-4.

“Coming into the match I wasn’t expecting to play him because I knew he was playing 1 [doubles] this year,” Rosenblat said. “But I got a great opportunity and I know he’s already committed to Michigan State University for tennis so I really had nothing to lose. I played like that and ended up on top.”