De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer.
Until this year, that is.
“I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve been disappointed. We’ve been treated unfairly and put in buzzsaws of regionals in the past. Teams I’ve thought might be able to do it, we’ve gotten really close and lost in the last few minutes. We’ve just never been able to climb to the top.
“With this group, I know we can push it even further.”
The Meteors cruised to a 4-0 win over eighth-seeded Bremen in the Class 2A De La Salle Regional championship game. Freshman Kennedi Carpenter, junior Joanna Mullen and senior Jazzlyne Orozco scored for the Meteors (19-3), who were also the beneficiary of an own goal from the Braves (5-12-2).
De La Salle moves on to the Kankakee Sectional and will take on fifth-seeded Oak Forest (8-9-4) in a sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Last Saturday was a day worth celebrating as the Meteors made history.
“It’s incredible, really, because we worked so hard all season and for our hard work to pay off, it really means a lot to us,” Orozco said.
Orozco said it was hard to believe De La Salle had never won a regional before.
“To be honest, when I first heard that, it was quite surprising,” she said. “By the time I came into the program, things started to change and we started to win.”
Carpenter put the Meteors in front just over four minutes into the game, putting in a rebound after fellow freshman Julissa Zuniga ripped a shot off the crossbar.
“It was a good bounce,” Carpenter said. “Julissa hit it off the crossbar and I was just there to tap it in.”
The Meteors continued to attack and spent nearly the entire first half in their offensive end, but still led just 1-0 until Mullen struck 67 seconds before halftime to give her team a big lift.
After the ball was knocked around several times in a scramble on the Meteors’ offensive end, Mullen picked up the loose ball and fired a quick shot from 20 yards into the net to make it 2-0.
“I was doing it for the team,” Mullen said. “So many people want to score the goal and think of it like, ‘I want to get the glory.’ But I wanted to make the goal for my teammates. We work so hard. That goal was really powerful for everyone on the team.”
Orozco added a second-half goal off an assist from Azucena Diaz and the own goal made it 4-0.
Mullen, Mia Loza and Vicky Luna led the De La Salle defense in front of goalkeeper Emily Samuels, holding Bremen without a shot on goal.
The Meteors won without two of their top players, leading scorer Mia Ortega and Imani Coleman. The two sophomores were out with injuries and are questionable for the sectional.
“Mia Ortega always scores and Amani is a freaking baller who will get every single ball,” Mullen said. “So, without those people who really impact our play, we had to really step up.”
RedHawks roll In another Class 2A regional championship hosted by De La Salle, second-seeded Marist rolled to an 8-1 win over seventh-seeded Marian Catholic.
It’s the first regional title since 2018 for the RedHawks (14-9-1), who will take on third-seeded St. Laurence in a Kankakee Sectional semifinal at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s our first regional title in three years, so it’s nice to bring one back and get a chance to play in a sectional again,” Marist coach Chris Roe said.
Junior midfielder Gina Czochara scored twice in the first 13 minutes to get the RedHawks rolling early.
Czochara completed her hat trick late in the first half and added a fourth goal in the second half. In the process, she tied the school record — set last season by CeCe Light — with 27 goals on the year.
“Gina tied the record so that was a big deal for her, and now she can not worry about that record and know if she scores one more, she will break it,” Roe said.
Paula Gutierrez scored twice for Marist, while Rylee Conway and Nikki Young added a goal apiece. Maddie Meehan had three assists.
Sandburg survives Upset-minded Homewood-Flossmoor took Sandburg to overtime for the second time this season, but the Eagles prevailed 3-1 in the Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional championship game.
Freshmen Maeve Durkin and Gabby Dittmer and senior Karli Ferguson scored for Sandburg (13-8), which advanced to take on third-seeded Lincoln-Way East in a Class 3A Sandburg Sectional semifinal set for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series.
But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and San Diego.
Pugh returned May 22 and is back in goal-scoring mode. She scored a pair in a 4-2 road victory over Orlando.
She came into the game in the second half and within eight minutes had an assist, and later added the two goals.
Pugh’s first goal came at the 63-minute mark on an assist from rookie Ava Cook. At the 85-minute mark, Pugh scored on a rebound from her missed penalty kick.
“Once we knew she was going to play, we knew it would be for 45 minutes either in the first or second half,” Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said. “We went with the second half. We’re a different team when Mal is on the field. For everyone in the stadium, the game is more exciting when Mal is on the field.
“When she gets the ball, you don’t know what’s going to happen and there is this anticipation when she gets the ball. We become a more dangerous team. She had an impact on the game but she was a little rusty.”
At the 10-minute mark, Sarah Griffith opened the scoring when she notched her first NWSL goal with an assist from Vanessa DiBernardo. Both are Naperville natives.
Midfielder Danny Colaprico notched her 10,000th minute as a Red Star.
The only other players to hit that number with Chicago are DeBernardo and Arin Wright.
The Red Stars are back home at 7 p.m. Saturday with a battle against Portland (1-1-2). The Thorns lost to Houston 2-0 on May 21.
Fire II lose
The Chicago Fire II dropped a 3-0 road game to the New York City Football Club II I an MLSNEXT Pro game on Saturday. There were six yellow cards issued in the first 42 minutes of the game.
Chicago (1-4-3, 7 points) visits Toronto (3-5-0, 9 points) Friday.
The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season.
But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood.
To get to the title game, the Eagles won a wild 9-8 decision over Homewood-Flossmoor via a walkoff hit by Jeremy Johnson, causing a huge celebration.
Sandburg dropped a 6-3 decision in the title game to Lockport and headed into regionals with a 14-15 mark.
Outfielder Jake Liskiewick was given an award after the game for “playing the game the right way.” Liskiewck, a senior, said he will cherish the plaque.
“This is more than a tournament,” he said. “It’s all about Stevie’s way. I’ve played with the Orland Park Sparks and I’ve heard stories about his life. This means a lot to me.”
Bajenski, who played at Mount Carmel, died in 2009 after complications from heart surgery. This is the 10th running of the tournament named in his honor, and the Do It Stevie’s Way Foundation is a scholarship fund for senior students who best exhibit “Stevie’s way,” according to the foundation.
Several sectionals were postponed because of rain throughout the area on May 21.
Some were played, however, and Stagg won the Oak Lawn Sectional by three points over Sandburg. It is the fifth sectional title in the Chergers’ history.
Stagg singles players Lukas Cepronas and Zeb Alikhan qualified for state, which opens Thursday at various sites in the suburbs. The Chargers’ doubles team of Declan Lally-Ian Wolan also advanced.
Sandburg’s Ryan Bottino and the doubles teams of Shreyas Shah-Ethan Carlson and Danny Gallagher-Nico Delis qualified.
Marist’s Brayden Bartecki won the singles title to quality for state.
Lyons took second place at its own regional. Sophomore Jack McLane finished fourth and qualified for state. The Lions’ doubles teams of Tiernan Kelly-Patrick Adams and Will Carroll-Mason Mazzone finished second and third, respectively, to punch their tckets to state.
Stagg’s boys tennis team on May 21 won the fifth sectional title in program history. Photo courtesy of Stagg High School
The Saint Xavier softball team’s season came to an end May 16 with a 3-2 loss to SouthEastern University of Florida in the NAIA Opening Round Tournament in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
The Cougars (39-8) needed to win both games against the Fire in the double-elimination tournament, and won the first one, 12-6. But they were eliminated in the second game on a walkoff hit.
Senior outfielder Lyda Robinson of Seneca went 4-for-5 in game one and set the SXU single-season record for runs scored with 61.
How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay?
Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022.
And that was only good enough for second place.
In a battle that went down to the wire, Hinsdale Central’s 7:42.15 performance barely beat the Eagles.
According to Athletic.net, the Eagles time is tied with Fremont (Nebraska) for the third-best time in the country entering this week. Hinsdale Central’s time was second in the nation.
Ridge (New Jersey) was the nation’s leader at 7:41.59.
Success in the 3200 is nothing new for the Eagles as they head into the weekend’s IHSA state meet in Charleston with the No. 2 seed and ready for a rematch with the Red Devils. Sandburg has medaled in the event nine straight years and won it three times during that span, including the 2016 season in which they set the state record with a 7:36.36.
The Eagles had one sectional champion this year at Lockport, as junior Lance Somerfield had a 23-1.5 long jump.
Also at Lockport, Shepard’s Roy Williams won the shot put with a throw of 53-10.75.
Morton Sectional In other 3A action, Marist and Lyons tied for the Morton Sectional championship with 104 points each.
Marist sophomore Lucas Parr won the 100 with an 11.12, junior Danny Olsen won the 400 with a 50.28 and sophomore Kamil Kokot won the 110 high hurdles with a 15.33.
The RedHawks’ 400 relay team of Parr, Tyler O’Brochta, Michael Coy and Ak’Tavion Agee won with a 43.48. The 800 relay team of Parr, O’Brochta, Coy and Agee also won with a 1:30.80 and the 3200 relay team of Andrew Kerlin, Jake Phillips, Brendan Geary and Olsen won with an 8:02.27.
Lyons used depth to earn its co-championship as the team has just one sectional champ in junior triple jumper Will Disessa, who had a leap of 41-10.25.
Richards junior Owen Forberg continued to be on fire this season in the 1600, as he won with a 4:18.95. Senior Mustafa Washington won the shot put with a 50-7.
Morton senior Alex Bacci claimed a sectional crown in the 3200 with a 9:26.79 and senior teammate Daniel Chavez was right behind him at 9:28.05.
Riverside-Brookfield sophomore William Smithing won the 300 hurdles with a :41.48.
Brother Rice senior Henry Boyer claimed the top spot in the discus with a throw of 137-5.25. Senior teammate Joe Heilmann won the pole vault, clearing 11-6.25.
Oak Lawn’s Robert Wagner won the high jump with a 6-4.75 and the long jump with a leap of 21-1.25.
St. Rita Sectional At the Class 2A St. Rita Sectional, the host Mustangs finished second to South Shore.
St. Rita senior E.J. Nwagwu won the 200 with a 22.31 and the 400 with a 50.41. The Mustangs’ 1600 relay team of Wayne Conley II, Kaleb Brown, Nwagwu and Nikolas Norton won with a 42.40. Triple-jumper Camden Martin earned a title with a leap of 38-1.75.
De La Salle finished first and second in the 1600 with senior Chase Pitre winning with a 4:57.83 and freshman Gabriel Schonknecht right behind him at 4:58.45. Schonknecht won the 3200 with a 10:42.95. Caleb Terrell won the high jump with a 5-9.75,
Mount Carmel’s Jaden Bossie won the 110 hurdles with a :14.79 and 300 hurdles with a 42.25. Maurice McLaren won the discus with a 107-0.25.
Evergreen Park junior Nathan Fernandez won the 800 as the Kankakee Sectional with a 2:05.93 while junior teammate Isiah Mosley won the shot with a 45-6.5 and senior Elijah Matthews claimed the triple jump with a 41-4.75.
Fenwick Sectional At the Class 2A Fenwick Sectional, St. Laurence senior Adrian Williams won the 200 in 21.98.The 400 relay team of Matt Ochoa, Williams, Harley Rizz and DeShawn Parker won with a 43.32 and the 800 relay team of Ochoa, Parker, Allan Parker and Williams also claimed a championship. DeShawn Parker won the triple jump with a leap of 43-11.25.
In Class 1A, Chicago Christian won the Seneca Sectional with 85 points for the program’s first sectional championship.
Knights’ sophomore Noah Luke was a 3200 with a time of 10:59.52. The 400 relay team of Steffon May, Jeremiah Oliver, Jon Tobey and Luke Jelderks won with a 44.03. Freshman Caden Boersma won the triple jump with a 41-0.25.
Numerous area athletes competed at the HSA state finals, but only a few advanced to the second-day of competition.
In Class 3A, Lyons junior Catherine Sommerfield finished seventh in the 3200 with a time of 10:35.21 and 12th in the 1600 with a 4:58.80. The 3200 relay team of Scarlett Lestina, Anna Bylsma, Kristina Findley and Shannon Cranny took eighth with a 9:32.05.
In the shot put, Shepard junior Kayden Porter finished 12th with a 38-1.5. In the discus, Reavis junior Mercedes Herrera took 12th with a 112-2. In the triple jump, Shepard junior Chloe Dunigan took 12th with a 36-4.5.
Friends and associates of Skip Sullivan said that he was always a ray of sunshine even on the dreariest of days.
The sky was actually overcast over the Oak Lawn Community High School varsity baseball field on Tuesday afternoon. But those who knew Sullivan said he would not mind.
And hundreds of people — including friends, past associates, students, ballplayers, teachers and administrators — turned out on “Skip Sullivan Day” to pay respects and honor the late teacher and coach.
Eugene “Skip” Sullivan, who was also known as “Sully,” died Nov. 25 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 70 years old.
A massive crowd showed up to honor Sullivan before the varsity game against Reavis. The varsity field was renamed Skip Sullivan Field and a street near his home will also bear his name.
The turnout was so huge for Sullivan that shuttle service was provided from the high school to the field.
Janet Meyers, a technology coach who previously served as the head girls basketball coach at Oak Lawn High, said that Sullivan was a great person and a unique individual.
“He was kind and he always saw the good in everyone,” said Meyers, who previously organized the annual Sully Shuffle 5K run and walk to provide funding and awareness about Parkinson’s disease. “He had the amazing ability to reach everyone. He was funny and witty. He was a great coach because he could get the most out of everyone. All the coaches respected him. He said it’s not always about winning, but playing with integrity. He could always see the bright things in life.”
Before the game, Meyers was passing out T-shirts that had Skip Sullivan Field written on them. The lettering on the shirts were surrounded by a marquee image that resembled Wrigley Field. That was fitting since Sullivan was an avid Cubs fan.
Spectators who attended the dedication and the game were also asked to write down their thoughts about Sullivan.
Marcus Wargin, assistant principal at Oak Lawn High, also has fond memories of Sullivan.
“As a young coach, I got to coach football with him,” Wargin said. “Just working with him as a mentor was great. I did all the learning and he did the coaching. It was an honor to know him as a coach and a teacher.”
Friends and associates of the late Skip Sullivan sign a book recalling some memories they have of him before the dedication ceremony Tuesday.
Sullivan grew up and lived his entire life in Oak Lawn. He attended Oak Lawn Community High School from 1965 through 1969, where he starred in baseball, basketball and football. He earned all-conference honors in baseball and basketball his junior and senior years.
He then attended Iowa State University on a football scholarship and played both football and baseball there.
Sullivan then began his teaching and coaching career at Oak Lawn High School in 1973. He retired as a social studies teacher in 2006 and continued coaching at the high school through 2014. He was the head varsity baseball coach from 1995 through 2008. He also served as an assistant boys basketball and football coach. He was also an assistant girls basketball coach.
In 1993 and 1994, Sullivan earned the Fred Parks Coach of the Year Award at Oak Lawn High School. Another award he received was being named the Pitch and Hit Club High School Coach of the Year in 1996.
In 2009, Sullivan was inducted into the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame.
Mayor Terry Vorderer proclaimed that May 17 would be “Skip Sullivan Day” at the May 10 village board meeting. The Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 Board also passed a resolution acknowledging Sullivan’s lifelong commitment to the high school during a Feb. 16 meeting.
Janet Meyers (right), the technology coach and former girls basketball coach at Oak Lawn Community High School, displays a T-shirt that reads Sullivan Field before the dedication ceremony to honor the late Skip Sullivan. She is accompanied by her sister, Erin Dempsey.
Vorderer mentioned this before the game and presented a copy of the proclamation and the Skip Sullivan Way street sign to the Sullivan family.
Dr. Michael Riordan, superintendent of Oak Lawn Community High School District 229, said during the dedication ceremony that “we were all better for knowing Skip. (He) made an indelible mark on our school.”
On hand for the dedication ceremony was his wife, Patti Sullivan; son, Mike Sullivan; daughter, Dana Annel; and his grandchildren. Relatives, friends, former ballplayers and colleagues were also at the dedication.
Brian Clifton, the former head freshman baseball coach at OLCHS, said that Sullivan had a vision when he started to coach the varsity team and expressed his thoughts to assistant coach George Dempsey. He wanted his team to not only win games but most importantly to play with integrity and humility.
Mike Sullivan threw out the first pitch to Dempsey. The grandchildren also threw out first balls to members of the current Oak Lawn varsity team.
Annel perhaps best summed up her father’s positive spirit and love of baseball.
“His players were his kids,” Annel said. “When I was a kid, when he drove down Southwest Highway by the park, he would point and say, ‘there’s heaven.’”
Mike Sullivan, son of Skip Sullivan, throws out the first pitch to George Dempsey during the dedication ceremony that included renaming the Oak Lawn Community High School varsity baseball field in honor of his father.
Donn Pall admits things were low-key when he played baseball at Evergreen Park High School.
Expectations were not high. Having fun was more important.
“There were no big games and we didn’t have a special team,” Pall said. “It was just fun to play with a bunch of my friends growing up and playing on a high school team together.
“We were never a great team. We were a mediocre team. We didn’t have anyone on the team who was all-conference. That tells you what kind of a team we had — just a bunch of local guys just trying to have a good time and playing ball.”
Pall graduated in 1980, and no one at the time thought he would not only excel in college ball but that he would also play 10 years in the Major League, including parts of six seasons with the White Sox and one with the Cubs.
Pall, nicknamed “The Pope,” was honored Monday by having his number 20 retired at the Mustangs’ baseball field before Evergreen Park took on Shepard in a South Suburban Conference Red game.
He may be one of the few players to have his number retired who forgot what number he wore.
“I had to look up my number,” he said. “I didn’t even know what number I had. I looked at old pictures and I was like ‘Oh! No. 20.’ ’’
Former Evergreen Park player Donn Pall went on to have a surprising major league career and had his number retired on Monday at the school. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Pall made 328 major league appearances, had a lifetime 3.63 ERA and capped his career winning a World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins.
He didn’t have a Hall-of-Fame career, but it was an outstanding display of perseverance, considering he was not recruited out of high school and was rejected by Illinois as a walk-on candidate as a freshman.
He gave baseball one more shot and, that time, Illinois found a roster spot for him. He had a breakout season in 1985, going 13-1 with a 1.98 ERA, and scouts took a look at him.
He was drafted by the White Sox in the 23rd round — the 579th pick overall — and played professionally for 14 seasons.
“I’ll speak to kids and tell my story,” he said. “Nobody ever looked at me and said, ‘That guy is going to be a major leaguer. That guy is a phenomenal player.’ I was an All-Star a lot of times, but no one said, ‘That guy is going places.’
“Nobody recruited me for college. I tried out as a walk-on and got cut. I tell people that you just never know. If someone tells you that you are not good enough and if you want it, work hard and go for it. Keep at it because you just never know.”
Pall, 60, lives in Bloomingdale, works as a financial planner and is an ambassador for the White Sox.
It was the second time a former Mustang had a number retired his month. Jim Adduci had his retired May 5. Evergreen Park High School officials had hoped for a dual ceremony, but the scheduling didn’t work out.
Shepard baseball coach Frank DiFoggio won his 400th career game earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Shepard High School
This baseball season has seen some milestones for area coaches.
Shepard coach Frank DiFoggio earlier this month racked up career victory No. 400.
“To my guys who have played for me and/or coached with me, I would like to thank every single one of you,” DiFoggio wrote on Twitter. “I appreciate the efforts you have given me throughout the years…everything about the Shepard baseball program is because of you.”
Sandburg coach Jim Morsovillo joined the 200-win club on May 2. Morsovillo took over the program in 2012, replacing Doug Sutor, who won 574 games, according to IHSA records.
Jim Morsovillo poses with his son, Matt, after Jim’s 200th career victory. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School