Sun-Times All-Area boys soccer team
Updated: November 2, 2011 6:19PM
Choosing the best in any sport invites a certain controversy. Deserving players are inevitably left off, especially in a high skill level sport where only 11 are named to the first team.
In a stellar year underlining the high quality of team and individual play, the possibilities proved endless. The process is naturally subjective, but the first-team selections had hard numbers and impressive team records to justify their inclusion.
The list is headed by Crete-Monee senior forward Carlos Posada, the Sun-Times Player of the Year who ended his remarkable career as the state’s all-time leader in goals scored. Coming off a 63-goal campaign last year, Posada outperformed his own lofty standards by scoring 68 goals.
Naperville North failed in its bid to return to the state finals, losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in the sectional finals to rival Naperville Central. In the final year of coach Jim Konrad, the Huskies won two major tournaments, the Best of the West and the downstate Morton, as part of a 20-game winning streak.
The Huskies landed three players on the first team: senior keeper Kevin Anderson, senior midfielder Kyle Lindberg and senior defender Lee Grander. Playing one of the state’s toughest schedules, Anderson posted a stunning 14 shutouts. Lindberg was the team’s leading scorer with 18 goals.
Mather star Qudus Lawal, the lone Public League selection, leads the Rangers into a Class 2A state semifinal against defending state champion Peoria Notre Dame Friday afternoon. Lawal was arguably the most electrifying player in the area. A native of Lagos, Nigeria who played his first full season, he scored 35 goals.
He punctuated his play with a remarkable personal feat of recording five different games with a hat trick. He has also scored 11 goals in five tournament games.
“In our system, the player with the ball is the most dangerous on the field, and that’s how I like to play,” Lawal said.
The list is also keyed by two repeat selections, Crystal Lake South senior forward Charlie Oliver and Lyons senior midfielder Elliot Borge, called by Hinsdale Central coach Michael Wiggins “the best player in the state.”
An NIU-recruit, Oliver registered 27 goals and nine assists. He ended his career as the second-leading scorer in the program’s history.
Oliver was incredibly versatile. Coach Brian Allen installed him on the backline for seven games in order to shore up the team’s defense. In those games, the team surrendered only four goals.
Oak Park-River Forest senior forward Stephen Golz set a single-season school record with 29 goals for the Class 3A sectional finalists. He added nine assists as he led the Huskies to a 20-4-1 mark.
After spending his junior year on the club circuit, Cary-Grove senior midfielder Drew Conner made a splashy return by scoring 14 goals. The Wisconsin-recruit added 15 assists in leading the Trojans to a 17-3 mark.
Deerfield’s Joey Calistri showcased his potent offensive skills in totaling 27 goals for the Class 2A sectional finalists.
Senior defender Sam Kaplan was a vital all-purpose weapon and leading reason Libertyville, defending Class 3A runner-up, were ranked in the top-3 the whole year. Kaplan scored eight goals and added four assists in helping the Wildcats capture the Pepsi Showdown over Lyons. Defensively, he has few peers. Coach Andy Bitta called him the “best tackler I’ve ever had. I don’t think any forward has gotten the best of him.”