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Preview story: Battle of unbeatens Glenbrook North and New Trier to set tone for CSL South race

By Mike Garofola, 09/10/23, 11:15PM CDT


New Trier will host Glenbrook North in a top-of-the table contest that will help decide the direction of the Central Suburban League South Division title chase.

Both clubs have not wasted any time and built a dazzling combined 15-0-2 record in advance their Top 10 match at 7 p.m. Monday match in Northfield.

"It's a big, early season test for both of us, and one that we are looking forward to," said Glenbrook North three-year varsity veteran Sam Lappin. "Last year we were playing catch-up in our conference because of two early season losses to Evanston then Maine South. So that makes this game that much more important for us." 

The senior is part of a sharp and sturdy backline stationed in front of keeper Gil Meyers, whom manager Paul Vignocchi said has been one of his most consistent players thus far.

Lappin played the six a year ago for the Spartans, but was moved into the center of the backline to form a solid partnership alongside Ben Melnick, Jordan Elliott and Chase Petersen.

"Ben is so strong in the air, and kind of our vocal captain in the back. He's been great all season,” said Lappin, who has also been a two-year starter at guard for the Spartans basketball team. “Chase and Jordan have been just as amazing as our outside backs.

"(Jordan) is a natural lefty and is fantastic with and on the ball. Chase is a guy that every coach and team knows, because he is the ultimate weapon for us with his long throws that continue to amaze all of us."

The seventh-ranked Spartans (8-0-1) have scored at least twice in every game but one, which should give them enough confidence to trouble the no. 5 Trevians, who themselves have been a stingy bunch along the backline.

"Last year we would rely on just one player to be the guy we would count on for scoring," said Lappin. “This year, our off-the-ball and combination play have been so much better, which says a lot about Ian Lee (10 goals), Steven Rhee in the middle, and our sophomore Jackson Lee (seven goals) who has fit in so well up-top for us.

"With Alex Ferencz playing the six so well for us and with a bench that can come in and provide great play both in our attack and in defending, we've been able to get out to our strong start to get us ready for New Trier, who is always very good with the ball and playing direct with long balls."

"We expect New Trier to be a very tough opponent for us Monday night," said Vignocchi, who led Glenbrook North to the championship of the 35th-annual Barrington Classic on Sept. 2. "They have players all over the field who are dangerous, and their entire team plays hard for their manager Matt Ravenscraft.

"They are always difficult to break down and can counterattack as well as any team in the state."

The two sides drew 1-1 a year ago. Later the Trevians claimed a 2-1 victory in their Class 3A regional final.
Kevin Farina has been a key figure in New Trier's 7-0-1 start. His switch to the backline after playing up-top two years ago as a sophomore helped establish the Trevians defense, thanks in part to the masterful positioning, proactive approach to defending and leadership qualities that have earned him a captain’s armband along with teammates Liam Myers and Ian Vichnick.

"One of the big reasons for our early season success is, of course, our coaching staff, who are organized and run great training sessions. They help our younger guys jell quickly in our system," said Farina, a three-year varsity veteran.

"We lost eight from last year's team that lost in the supersectionals, three of whom were starters, but we've all adjusted well with so many new players on our roster. It has made for some really good chemistry."

Myers is stationed on the outside right of Farina, with Harrison Hahner on the left in the Trevians 3-4-3 formation which has Oliver Fernandez and Gabriel Yoder playing a double six.

"Oliver is one of our returning players from a year ago, and he's doing a great job along with Yoder, who is new to our team and playing real well," said Farina.

While Farina and his teammates are aware of the lethal, long throws from the aforementioned Petersen of Glenbrook North, the senior believes his club has its own special talent in senior Aidan O'Neill.

"Aidan is such a good player," said Farina of the Trevians leading goal-scorer with 12. "He's dangerous, creative and can score for us in a lot of different ways.”

The Trevians lifted the trophy in their own Northside College Showcase on Sept. 2. They outscored their three opponents in pool play 11-2, before sending off Round Lake 3-0 in the final.

"We had a great challenge with (no. 25) Hinsdale Central here on Saturday that ended in a 2-2 draw," Ravenscraft said. “We learned some things from that game that will get us ready for Glenbrook North tonight.”

"(This) will be our toughest challenge of the year thus far," admitted Farina. "We know them well as a team that is real technical in the midfield, has some dangerous players up-top, and, of course, we'll need not to concede too many throws from in deep."