Chesterton's Billy Biehl tries to outrun Valparaiso's Nate Dawson to the goal in the first half Wednesday evening at Chesterton High School.| Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 17, 2014 2:06AM
5 Teams to Watch
1. Crown Point
Two state titles in three seasons is pretty eye-catching. The Bulldogs graduated six starters — including Bay Kurtz, Carmelo Morales and Spase Dorsuleski — but don’t write them off just yet, with players such as senior defender Erik Eksten, junior goalkeeper Connor Keaveney, sophomore midfielder Brad Kurtz and junior defender Michael Tanchevski.
The Trojans return eight of 11 starters from a team that went 16-3-1, won its first sectional since 2010, scored a school-record 77 goals and allowed just 14 (with 11 shutouts).
The Vikings graduated 13 seniors, including eight starters, but they always find a way to flourish — in the area and statewide. Senior defender Jarod Bradley should be among their leaders.
The Mustangs just keep rolling. Last season, they extended their state record to 12 consecutive sectional titles, and have won 13 in the last 14 seasons.
The Trojans broke through to share the NCC title with Andrean and Munster, behind 25 goals and six assists from then-junior Max Young. Lake Central denied them their first sectional since 1999.
5 People to Watch
1. Chesterton’s Billy Biehl
Now healthy, the forward/midfielder seems poised for a huge senior season. He had 13 goals and five assists last season despite missing seven games with multiple facial fractures — and gutsily returned wearing a mask.
2. Andrean coach
After six seasons as 59ers girls coach, he succeeds Pete Reist, who retired after 24 at the helm. The alum has been blending the new (they also return just one starter from their regional champion) with tradition.
The senior — one of 15 on the Pirates — should be one of the state’s best goalkeepers. He’s a three-year starter and team MVP.
4. Valparaiso’s Nate Dawson
After excelling as a defender last season, the versatile junior should be ready to take the next step to carry the mantle as the Vikings’ primary impact player.
5. LaPorte’s Jon Aaron
The junior forward had 19 goals and five assists last season for the Slicers, now coached by five-year assistant Pat McCoy, the father of senior center midfielder Josh and former standout Zach.
5 Things to Watch
1. Just how good
can Chesterton be?
Senior midfielder Jared O’Dell has improved so much that coach James Sensibaugh said he could be the Trojans’ best player — on a team that includes Billy Biehl, as well as junior forward Trent Weller (16 goals, 9 assists).
2. The next wave
at Lake Central?
After starting as many as five freshmen, don’t expect a repeat of the five wins from last season — when the Indians still won their 11th straight sectional. They’re back in a big way this season, and going forward.
3. Which smaller teams might emerge?
NWISC and PCC champion Boone Grove — which returns senior forwards Austin Aguilera (18 goals, 8 assists) and Nick Azevedo (15, 20) — and Wheeler each has won three straight sectionals.
4. What about some other non-DAC/NCC teams?
East Chicago Central, which returns players such as senior midfielder Erick Cuevas, junior forward Francisco Torres and junior midfielder Erik Beltran from a team that lost 2-1 to Munster in a sectional final; Clark, with sophomore Jorge Garcia (23 goals, 2 assists) back in the fold late after he had planned to play for the Chicago Fire Academy; Bishop Noll, with returnees including junior forward Gabriel Anguiano (14 goals, 3 assists) and senior goalkeeper Jonathan Lozano; and two-time GLAC champion Hammond could be among those in the mix.
5. New direction
Will Fortenberry, a 2007 grad who was an assistant with the Indians for six seasons, takes over. His roster includes senior twins Ben (center back) and Aaron (midfielder) Schaefer, and Josh Gonzalez, who led the team in goals as a freshman.
Crown Point (21-0-1) beat Avon 3-1 in overtime for its second Class 2A title in three seasons. Andrean won its first regional since 1996. Munster, Lake Central, Chesterton, Wheeler and Boone Grove also won sectionals.