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Preview story: Streamwood's trip to South Elgin promises Upstate 8 fireworks

By Jared Birchfield, 10/11/23, 12:45PM CDT


While the enmity between South Elgin and Streamwood is not as intense as other Upstate Eight Conference rivalries, the match between the two schools always is important to South Elgin coach Jerzy Skowron.

The teams will close out their league- and regular-seasons at 6;30 p.m. Wednesday in South Elgin.

The match pits Storm coach Skowron, a Streamwood alumnus, against his mentor Matt Polovin.

The Senior Night contest will also pit South Elgin’s Ashton Kerrigan against the Sabres’ A.J. Sabanovic, two of the highest scorers in the Upstate Eight Conference. Kerrigan has put up 16 goals and eight assists, while Sabanovic has collected 16 and 10.

“I don’t know if there’s necessarily a rivalry between the two schools. But for me, it’s my alma mater,” Skowron said. ”I was an assistant there for three years for Matt before I got to South Elgin. I work in Streamwood, and I grew up in Streamwood. So, it’s always special for me.”

Polovin agreed the contention with South Elgin is not at the same level as Streamwood (12-4-4) and arch foe, Bartlett.

“I don’t think there’s a big rivalry yet, just some really good games against each other,” the Streamwood coach said. “It’s a big conference game. It’s another U-46 (Elgin School District) school. So, we’re always up and ready to play them.”.

The last round of league matches Wednesday. Match will set the final conference standings. 

Click here to see the Upstate Eight Conference standings

Streamwood and South Elgin are tied for third with identical league records of 4-1-3. A decision will give one team sole possession of third place, or with a little help from another conference foe, a move up.

“I think the boys know what this game means for me personally. For them, if we win this game and if West Chicago ends up beating Larkin, we get second in conference,” the South Elgin coach said. “I’ve been working on the history of boys soccer at South Elgin, I don’t think we’ve ever finished that high before, so it’s a little extra special.”

Currently, Elgin and Larkin lead the league with 5-1-2 records.

South Elgin (8-6-4) wants to extend its five-match unbeaten run.

“Riding the streak that we’re on right now, these boys aren’t ready to take the foot off the gas pedal, especially right before playoffs start,” Skowron said.

Streamwood, ranked 20th in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, has dropped only one contest in its last seven matches.

Sabanovic’s teammates will step up to ease the expected defensive pressure on the junior,

“He’s so big and imposing out there. He’s always moving, and he’s always getting double-teamed every single game. They know who he is. We really try to give him as much support as possible,” Polovin said. “Our midfielders get a lot more involved when the balls are played to him. He uses our wings very well, and they have a lot of speed. When he gets the ball, makes runs in and finds any open gaps. It definitely helps. He’s able to create some chances for himself or teammates.”

Skowron is confident South Elgin’s backline can limit Sabanovic’s attacks.

“We have confidence in (defenders) Xavier (Marquez) and especially Jonah (Stueck), who’s just been an absolute monster in the back for us,” said the Storm coach. “And whether we choose to have someone man-mark (Sabanovic) or do it by committee, he’s going to be a handful for us, but I’m confident the guys that we have can handle it.”

Skowron knows if Streamwood contains Kerrigan and Ryan Nguyen (eight goals), someone else will pick up the slack,

“We’ve got other horses in the stable that are willing to do the work. After Ashton and Ryan, the next closest guy has four. We’ve had a couple of guys with two and three goals,” said the Storm coach. ”We’ve got a lot of guys that are able to contribute. If they’re going to key on Ryan and dAshton, I bid them good luck.”

Polovin is confident his backline will hold even if top defender Alex Alcala is unavailable.

“Alex is by far one of the best backs around,” he said. “Unfortunately, he got a mild concussion a few games ago, but he might be back. But the backline knows how to adjust, step up and help out, especially when they know there’s a couple of opposing players that can play quick.”

Skowron knows South Elgin’s natural turf will be an advantage.

“(Polovin) absolutely hates playing on grass, so this game is going to hopefully tilt our way,” he said.