Szczepanek does it all for WarrenLake Forest Tuesday 09.20.11. Warren's Nick Wegrzynowicz (left) (17) battles Lake Forest's Karl Morcott (right) (16) during their soccer game on Tuesday in Lake Forest. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 21, 2011 6:36PM
It’s tough to put a position label on Warren junior Daniel Szczepanek on the soccer pitch.
At times, he can be found on the wing trying to support a teammate on the attack, or dribbling past defenders with his numerous ball-handling skills.
Other instances, he will be making a well-timed run in the opposition’s penalty box before depositing the ball in the net.
And don’t be surprised to see Szczepanek dropping deep to help out on defense if the situation calls for it during a Blue Devils game.
“It’s doesn’t matter what it takes, Daniel will do what we need to help us win, because he wants this team to succeed so badly,” said Warren coach Jason Ahonen.
Szczepanek has already scored 11 goals and dished out eight assists for Warren this season, as the Blue Devils have jumped out to an 11-2-1 overall record and a perfect 3-0 mark in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division after Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over rival Lake Forest.
“My first season as a freshman on varsity, I sort of sat back in midfield and helped out more on defense,” said Szczepanek. “Last year, I had a bit more freedom to move around, and this season, I really can try to find openings where I can contribute at different spots on the field.
“It’s a great position to be in.”
Ahonen isn’t surprised Szczepanek is making a big impact on the Blue Devils as a junior.
“I’ve known Daniel since he’s been in fourth grade and I was one of his teachers,” he said. “I could see back then he had a lot of soccer talent and that he would be a great player in the future.”
The future is now for Szczepanek, as besides his standout play for Warren this season, he is a member of the highly-regarded club program Eclipse Select, a Midwest regional all-star and has been chosen to compete in an NCAA college showcase in Alabama in a few months.
“Daniel doesn’t have many flaws in his game — he’s highly skillful, a great leader and an ‘A’ student, so I’m sure he’s going to have a list of offers from colleges before his senior season,” said Ahonen.
Szczepanek doesn’t want to worry about his college plans now, as he is concentrating his efforts on making Warren’s 2011 season a huge success.
“We’ve already played a lot of good teams and we have more on our schedule, so that’s going to get us ready once the state tournament starts,” he said. “We have a goal of getting to state and winning it, so that’s our main focus right now.”
With a talented back line of Marquette University-bound Patrick Schulz, Alexis Lopez, Billy Eddy, Timmy Pieper and four-year starter in goal Brady Walsh, the Blue Devils aren’t just loaded offensively.
“It all starts with our backs,” said Szczepanek. “They are the ones that make things happen, get the ball to us and start our offense. They deserve a lot of the credit.”
Szczepanek’s help offensively includes junior Tony Severini (seven goals, three assists), senior Alex Brunell (six goals, four assists) and junior Aunor Solis (five goals, six assists).
“It’s a good mix of experienced seniors and some talented underclassmen,” said Ahonen, whose team’s only two losses this season are to defending state champion Rockford Boylan and perennial state power St. Charles North in the Barrington Invitational.
“We still have room for improvement, but this is a good group of guys who are working hard to become a better team. They are fun to coach.”