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Boys soccer preview: Scouting the top Region teams and players in 2020

Boys soccer preview: Scouting the top Region teams and players in 2020

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Emilio Zambrano, Lake Central

Lake Central's Emilio Zambrano, right, drills a penalty kick to score the first goal for the Indians during last year's 3A regional semifinal at Penn High School in Mishawaka. Zambrano looks to lead Lake Central to a return trip to the state finals.

Times assistant sports editor Aaron Ferguson takes a look at the Region's top boys soccer teams and players ahead of the 2020 season.

Top 10 teams

1. Chesterton: The Trojans are ranked sixth in Class 3A in the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association (ISCA) preseason poll. They exited the playoffs in a 2-0 regional semifinal loss to Northridge but return talent at all levels with goal-scoring forward Zack Bowser, midfielder Nick Biel and goalkeeper Charlie Eaton.

2. Lake Central: The Indians were state runner-up in Class 3A last season and are ranked 11th in the ISCA poll. Versatile senior midfielder/defender Emilio Zambrano returns to lead a junior-heavy team. First-year coach Shane M. Cloutier takes over for now-Indiana Northwest coach Jereme Rainwater.

UPDATE: Rainwater named men's soccer coach at IU Northwest

3. Crown Point: Ranked 14th in the opening ICSA poll, the Bulldogs lost to Chesterton in a sectional semifinal after finishing runner-up to them in the Duneland Athletic Conference season. Seniors Hayden Eaton and Kristian Simakoski look to lead Crown Point through a tough sectional.

4. Munster: The Mustangs swept the Northwest Crossroads Conference but lost its opening postseason game to Morton. Gianluca Scalzo, Max Marich and Ethan Orange are part of a strong senior class that will lead Munster.

5. Valparaiso: The Vikings are led by first-year coach Mike Enghofer, who replaces longtime coach Danny Jeftich. Jason Eisly and Ryan Thein scored four goals apiece for Valpo, which tied for third in the DAC at 4-3. Eric Dreher scored three goals and assisted another in a season-opening 5-1 win over LaPorte.

Enghofer tabbed as new Valparaiso boys soccer coach

6. Highland: The Trojans lost to Lake Central in the sectional semifinals last season. Returning is one of the Region's top scorers in Dane Richardson, who had 13 goals in his junior season. Highland finished second (4-1) to Munster in the Northwest Crossroads Conference last season. Defender Michael Perry returns to lead the back line.

7. Bishop Noll: The Warriors lost to Morton in double overtime in the sectional semifinals. Noll will challenge Griffith atop the Greater South Shore Conference. Noll has senior leadership at all levels, including Jake Wichlinski, who entered the season with 82 career goals; midfielder Bruno Zamora; defender Noah Reid; and goalkeeper Fernando Ramos. Wichlinski assisted Zamora's game-winning goal in the 2018 Class 2A state championship.

8. Griffith: All-area selections Jivino Ramos and Omar Mehisen return as Ron Knestrict is back at the helm. Ramos, a senior forward, scored 22 goals for a 12-win, sectional winner. Mehisen looks to lead the defense.

9. Illiana Christian: For the first time since moving from Lansing to Dyer, the Vikings are eligible for the IHSAA postseason. Illiana Christian was 15-2-1 last fall but lost nine starters, including David Gomez, who scored 39 goals. There are still high expectations for the independent program ranked 19th in the opening ISCA Class A poll. Freshman Chase Poortinga scored three goals in a season-opening win over Morgan Township.

Illiana Christian becomes eligible for IHSAA postseason, receives approval to join GSSC in 2021-22

10. Boone Grove: The Wolves swept through the Porter County Conference last season en route to a 12-win season. Seniors scored 45 of 62 goals last season, including Angel Castellanos' 24 goals. Sophomore Lucas Vadas scored five goals and assisted four others last season. 

Top 15 players

Nick Biel, Chesterton, Sr., MF; Zack Bowser, Chesterton, Sr., F; Eric Dreher, Valparaiso, Jr., MF; Charlie Eaton, Chesterton, Sr., GK; Hayden Eaton, Crown Point, Sr., MF; Quentin Enyeart, Lake Central, Jr., D; Joel Gomez, Kankakee Valley, Jr., F; Max Marich, Munster, Sr., MF; Jivino Ramos, Griffith, Sr., F; Dane Richardson, Highland, Sr., F; Gianluca Scalzo, Munster, Jr., D; Kristian Simakoski, Crown Point, Sr., F; Jake Wichlinski, Bishop Noll, Sr., F; Emilio Zambrano, Lake Central, Sr., F; Bruno Zamora, Bishop Noll, Sr., MF.

Gallery: 50 famous Region athletes


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