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News: IHSA moves to new state tournament schedule

By Mike Garofola, 08/08/23, 9:00AM CDT


Another fabulous season of spring soccer came to a dramatic close in early June when the Class AA and 3A girls state tournaments played out June 3 on the campus of North Central College in Naperville.

When Glenwood (AA) and O'Fallon raised their respective state championship trophies, it created a clean sweep of the three, class titles for programs outside of the Chicago area.

University (Normal) became a state champion for the first time when it took the Class A crown one week earlier, also in Naperville. 

Later in June, the IHSA decided to give its state tournament schedule a facelift. It will now combine the three Final Fours for each gender. The change begins with the upcoming school year: the boys titles will be decided Nov. 2-4 at Hoffman Estates High School; the girls will battle for their crowns May 30-June 1 at North Central.

Class A will kick off the tournament weekends with its semifinals on Thursday. The Friday card will feature the Class A third place match at 11 a.m. followed by the Class AA and 3A semifinals.

Saturday will open with third place games in AA (10 a.m.) and 3A (11:45 a.m.). Those matches will be followed by three-consecutive state championship tilts beginning with Class A at 2:30 p.m.

"We are all very excited about this change and our new format. It will provide a showcase for all three classes for the first time on the big stage," said Beth Sauser, who directs soccer, water polo and girls basketball for the IHSA.

"We've discussed off and on about making this change, and it was actually proposed for the girls only during the spring season. The board came together and suggested it for both the fall and spring, so Hoffman Estates High School - which has done an outstanding job as host of the boys state finals -- will continue doing so, as will North Central College."

"I really like this new format," said Jim Konrad, the president of the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association and highly regarded manager of the Naperville North boys program. “The Saturday schedule will give so many fans of the sport the chance to see all three classes, and the style of play each brings, at the same venue. It gives Class A teams their place in the spotlight.

"It's always an exciting time of the year, and there will be so much more with this new schedule in the fall. We, obviously, hope to be a part of it if we can."

Naperville North won three-consecutive state champions from 2016-18. Last season, the Huskies fell to eventual state champion Naperville Central in a sectional final.

Matt Ravenscraft's club at New Trier came within a whisker to playing on the last weekend of the 2022 fall season. The Trevians suffered a heartbreaking, supersectional overtime loss to Stevenson.

"I had heard that it was a success in basketball (which began the new format last winter). I think it's a tremendous idea to move all three classes to the same weekend for soccer,” said Ravenscraft. It's just a positive move in my opinion, and a great way to raise the profile of all three classes and the state series as well.

"The atmosphere will be great, and we'll hope to get that far this fall to be a part of it."

"There will be a lot of excitement surrounding this new look at the state tournament next year," said John Anderson, who has been one of the IHSA’s top officials for 28 years and has served as the state’s chief clinician since 2015. He also oversees the officials who are assigned to the state soccer tournaments.

"I saw a lot of quality at the Class A boys state tournament last fall at East Peoria. It's great that Class A soccer will now be a part of the championship weekend."

Anderson added that the consolidation of the tournament will give him a larger pool of officials to choose from to fill the prestigious state finals assignments.