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Preview story: Batavia needs win vs. Wheaton Warrenville South to stay in DuKane race

By Dave Owen, 04/20/23, 11:15AM CDT


Ho hum -- another DuKane Conference matchup, another high-stakes competition in one of the state’s strongest leagues.

Host Batavia (5-2-1, 2-1-0) hopes to stay hot against a Wheaton Warrenville South (2-4-1, 0-2-0) squad that has competed well against an elite early schedule. The teams meet at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Batavia enters the game vs. 2022 regional winners on a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1).

"We've been building some good chemistry and getting assistance from the entire roster in a congested April," said coach Mark Gianfrancesco, whose team won all three games over a five-day stretch last week.

Wheaton Warrenville South has been challenged by a tough schedule. The Tigers stayed close in a narrow 1-0 loss Tuesday to St. Charles East (12-0-0, 3-0-0), which is ranked fourth in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25. The Tigers other league loss was a 3-1 defeat to currently 14th-ranked St. Charles North on April 6.

The nonconference slate has been no breeze either, with losses to ranked foes Hinsdale Central, defending state champion Metea Valley and 2022 third place finisher Lincoln-Way Central.

"We'll need to play in the same manner as we did against St. Charles East if we're to have success," Callipari said, "because Batavia will be organized and highly motivated and prepared to capitalize on mistakes.

"We have to take our chances, which have been hard to come by as of late against teams of quality (like) Metea (Valley) and St. Charles East. We're hoping that a few players out with injury can come back and help solidify a productive attack and shore up the backline.

"(Ashlyn) Adams, (Lauren) Barnett and (Kate) Hartnett need to threaten in the offensive third while (Carolyn) Harvey, (Ava) Walsh and (Ella) Byrnes will create and work offensively in transition.”

Batavia has netted 24 goals in eight games, with four contests of four goals each (including a 4-0 shutout of Glenbard North on Tuesday) and one with five.

Sarah Koziol led the attack vs. Glenbard North with a goal and an assist, as four different Lady Bulldogs netted goals.

Laila Figueras sparked the previous game, scoring two goals in a 3-0 win over Lake Park.

Batavia's league loss came from a 2-1 decision to recently ranked Wheaton North on April 6. The Lady Bulldogs will not be fooled by Wheaton Warrenville South’s record. It knows Thursday brings a big challenge.

"Wheaton South is always going to be competitive, physical and well-organized," Gianfrancesco said. "Any team like that is always a concern.

"The keys to the game I guess for us, like any game, is to match the intensity of the opponent, win individual duels and finish our chances."

Batavia's excellence on set pieces, with multiple corner kicks this season curling directly into the net, is a particular concern on the other side.

"We need to stay away from dead ball environments, not allowing them to execute with set pieces," Callipari said. "It should be a good game."

Beyond the players, a battle of wits between two veteran coaches also is on the docket.

"Guy has been doing the coaching thing a long time," Gianfrancesco said. "He is able to get his teams to play hard and fair while being able to adapt within the game to challenge opponents.

"Those things equate to a lot of success throughout his career (including two-straight regional titles). We always look forward to competing against his side."