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Poll: Chicagoland Soccer Final 50

By Patrick Z. McGavin , 11/06/23, 6:00PM CST


 The thrilling, wild and thoroughly unpredictable boys state soccer series could be subtitled the Battle of Green Bay Road.

Winnetka stands proud as the nerve center of Illinois boys’ soccer with two state champions. North Shore Country Day won its first state championship in program history with a 2-0 Class A victory over University (Normal).

New Trier capped the night with a 3-1 victory over Lyons in the Class 3A state championship game.

The 50th anniversary of the first state championship game proved historic and deeply satisfying.

In 2008, New Trier won the first 3A state championship when the state moved from two classes to three.

Another historic first was established when all three state championships were conducted on the same day. All three classes battled at Hoffman Estates High School.

Until this year, Class A was typically finished a week earlier than the larger programs.

North Shore Country Day proved it belonged on any field. The Raiders controlled the ball, the tempo and the game.

“That’s the goal of any game, just to keep the ball and dominate,” Raiders’ forward Leif Steele said of his team's ability to control the ball against University (Normal).

By winning the Class AA state championship, Crystal Lake South created its own variation of a time loop. The Gators defeated the same program, Notre Dame (Peoria), from their first state championship in 2018.

That game was decided by a penalty kick shootout. Crystal Lake South went to the state championship the next year, losing to Benet.

On Saturday, the Gators seized the 2-0 lead, and withstood a late Irish rally in taking down the defending state champion.

Crystal Lake South is arguably the state's most successful program, regardless of class with two state championships and a runnerup finish in the last five full seasons.

There was no state championship series in 2020.

The number 50, like the special anniversary, has a magical aura and significance one more time. New Trier, Crystal Lake South and North Shore Country Day are all prominently featured in the Final 50, the exclusive state-wide end of the year poll conducted by Chicagoland Soccer.

The Final 50 is an amalgam of the website's polls. The Top 25 liststhe top programs in and around Chicago. The Illinois 10 highlights the best programs in the rest of the state, and the Class A and Class Super 7 polls bring visibility to additional smaller and mid-size programs.

The poll is a bookend to the First 50, our preseason outlook of the top teams in the state, regardless of geography or classification.

New Trier’s victory over Lyons punctuated a 16-game winning streak. 

“They were a deserved champion, and it was an honor to be on the field with them,” Lyons coach Paul Labbato said.

New Trier is ranked no. 1. Crystal Lake South sits at no. 9 as the top-ranked Class AA program.

North Shore Country Day is ranked 30th as the top-ranked Class A program.

The final rankings were definitely weighted in favor of the program’s state tournament play, though there were variables and outliers. Oak Park and River Forest was the top-ranked program much of the season.

Despite losing on penalty kicks against Notre Dame in a regional championship, the larger body of work was too impressive to ignore.

For just the third time in the history of the three-class format, Chicago-area teams swept the three class state championships.

The only other times that happened was in 2009 and 2019. All three programs this season are part of the Chicagoland Soccer subscriber network. Teams from the network are not given special treatment.

The results speak for themselves.

“The memories I made for this season, I will keep for the rest of my life,” New Trier midfielder Aidan O’Neill said.

The two championship Winnetka schools are literally a stone’s throw from each other. About 4,000 feet, 0.7 miles, separate the two campuses on Green Bay Road. In other words, a ten-minute stroll links the campuses of the two state championship teams.

On a glorious Saturday afternoon and evening in beautiful fall weather, the programs were tied together with championship twine.

Key: Rank-Final 50 rank; FRSR-final regular-season rank in Chicagoland Soccer polls; F50R-rank in First 50 preseason poll; HM-honorable mention in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25; NR-unranked in a poll.

Rank FRSR F50R Team Record Comment
1 3 17 New Trier 23-1-2 Trevians bring home 3rd championship of 2000s
2 22 10 Lyons 20-7-2 Lions have a magical Cinderella run
3 2 9 Naperville North 23-2-3 Huskies return 10 starters next season
4 1 8 Oak Park and River Forest 21-1-2 Great season ends with early, upset shootout loss
5 9 NR Glenbrook North 21-5-2 Only team to beat New Trier, takes 4th in 3A
6 4 48 Palatine 20-1-3 Undefeated up to sectional final
7 12 18 Stagg 18-4-1 Knocked out by Lyons in legendary supersectional
8 14 2 Elgin 16-4-3 Supersectional appearances last 2 seasons
9 6 (AA Super 7) NR Crystal Lake South 22-4-1 Arguably state's top program since 2018 with 2 state titles, runnerup finish
10 3 (Illinois 10) 6 Notre Dame (Peoria) 22-2-3 Irish repeat bid fails with bittersweet loss
11 7 NR Leyden 18-5-1 Eagles made great run at end of the season
12 8 32 Evanston 17-3-3 Wildkits add breathtaking new chapters to New Trier rivalry
13 5 13 Bloom 25-2-0 Sets new school record for victories in a season
14 NR 11 St. Charles East 19-8-0 Saints got hot at the right time
15 NR 39 Collinsville 14-7-1 Great run ends with competitive supersectional loss against Naperville North
16 13 5 York 16-5-0 State title, fourth, sectional finals last 3 seasons
17 15 3 Morton 16-6-2 Mustangs overcame injuries to reach sectional final
18 18 NR Taft 14-7-1 City champion gave New Trier its toughest test
19 20 30 Young 15-7-3 Back-to-back City Final Fours and '23 regional title
20 1 (Illinois 10) 40 Triad 22-2-1 Great season ends with 1-0 upset supersectional defeat
21 2 (Illinois 10) NR Springfield 22-3-0 Senators were a downstate power
22 23 1 Naperville Central 12-6-7 The toughest feat in sports is repeating
23 11 NR Brother Rice 19-4-2 CCL Blue co-champions had best season in 20 years
24 4 (Illinois 10) 43 Moline 16-1-3 Quad City power had season to remember
25 24 NR Notre Dame (Niles) 15-4-2 Stunned Oak Park and River Forest to win 1st 3A regional
26 HM 37 Round Lake 16-6-1 Panthers reached the sectional title game
27 NR 26 St. Laurence 15-8-2 Vikings went 6-1-0 with 27-7 goal differential in state tournament
28 6 NR Niles North 21-3-0 Vkings have built a formidible program
29 10 33 Stevenson 16-3-1 Patriots completed excellent two-year cycle
30 NR NR North Shore Country Day 17-5-1 Raiders put together historic run for Class A title
31 HM NR Oswego 17-6-3 Sectional qualifier had superb second half of season
32 HM 4 Romeoville 17-6-3 Spartans have had great two-year run
33 17 36 West Aurora 19-4-0 Captured the very difficult Southwest Prairie
34 19 46 Streamwood 15-5-4 Sabres beat Elgin, tied Oak Park and River Forest
35 NR NR Rochester 19-7-0 Stunned Triad and captured AA state trophy
36 21 20 Lane 12-4-1 Leyden showdown was the best regioonal semifinal in state series
37 NR NR Timothy 19-7-0 Stepped up a class and proved their mettle
38 25 16 Benet 14-4-3 Redwings had great finish
39 HM 7 Hinsdale Central 13-6-3 Regional champ tied NT, beat Lyons
40 HM NR LIncoln-Way Central 14-4-1 Took Stagg to shootout in sectional semifinal
41 16 24 Marmion 12-4-3 Abrupt end does not diminish strong campaign
42 1 (AA Super 7) 47 Champaign Central 19-4-2 Battled Rochester in memorable sectional title game
43 8 (Illinois 10) 38 Althoff 21-5-1 Crusaders confirmed elite status regardless of class
44 7 (AA Super 7) NR Dunlap 16-5-3 Played Notre Dame (Peoria) magnificently
45 7 (Illinois 10) NR University (Normal) 21-6-2 Talented club finished on step short of Class A pinnacle
46 5 (Illinois 10) NR Columbia 18-4-4 Eagles left Hoffman Estates with win, Class A 3rd place hardware
47 HM 25 Lockport 13-5-1 Won 9-straight games until regional title loss
48 5 (AA Super 7) 19 Solorio 18-4-1 Another solid year yielded sectional title game appearance
49 3 (AA Super 7) NR Wauconda 13-3-2 Only regular-season losses to Round Lake and Palatine
50 4 (AA Super 7) 14 Grayslake Central 12-5-0 Upset cuts short try at 3rd-staight AA Final Four