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.
|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|