Boys Soccer: Grant Stoneman leads Wheaton Academy into Class 2A state semis
Updated: October 31, 2012 9:46PM
It was the longest wait of Grant Stoneman’s life.
The Wheaton Academy junior had to sit and stand on the sidelines last year after he transferred to the private school from Burlington Central after his freshman year. His one year playing high school soccer gave him the taste, helping power the Rockets to a fourth-place finish in the Class 2A finals two years ago.
Now, he is back with a vengeance.
“He has tremendous work ethic, he’s a natural leader, he plays hard and he has great one touch abilities,” Wheaton Academy coach Jeff Brooke said. “He’s one of the best players in the state.”
Stoneman has put together impressive personal statistics, scoring 28 goals and contributing 18 assists in leading the Warriors (21-6) to their first state appearance since 2005. He scored the game-winner in the team’s 1-0 Class 2A Supersectional win over Lake View Tuesday at Solorio.
“It feels great to be able to go back there,” he said. “I’ve been there once already, and I’ve been looking forward to getting back.” Stoneman has keyed the Warriors’ hot streak. They enter the state semifinals against Peoria Notre Dame having won 15 of their last 16 games.
Stoneman has a great on-field chemistry with senior forward Gareth Flynn, who notched 17 goals and 16 assists. “We just made a connection out there, and really have the strong sense of where the other one is at all times,” he said.
Wheaton Academy faces a formidable opponent in perennial power Notre Dame. The Irish (20-2-2) have won three state titles in the last nine years.
They won the Class 2A state title two years ago and finished third last year. Drew Whalen has 34 goals and 23 assists to lead the Irish.
In the other semifinal, St. Viator (20-3-3) meets Urbana. The Lions have dropped down a class from last year. They played a mostly 3A schedule and feature a balanced, attacking offense led by two double-figure scorers, senior midfielder Jackson Owens and junior center Nick Winter, both of whom have 10 goals. Spencer Moore is the team’s facilitator with 17 assists.
Legendary coach Mike Taylor has more than 500 career victories and he directed the Lions to state championships in 2003 and 2009. He is also assured of the rare feat of capturing a state trophy in girls and boys’ soccer the same calendar year. His girls’ team finished third in Class 2A last spring.
Urbana (20-2) features two prolific scorers in Miguel Fierro (21 goals) and Jonathan Lukusa (20 goals).