St. Charles East senior forward TC Hull wasn't just the Saints' top scorer last season, he was a highly popular member of a close-knit Saints team.
That made the news that Hull re-tore his right ACL on Sunday, just days before he was hoping to make his season debut, an emotional jolt to the whole team.
A Twitter hash tag #WinForTC was making the rounds after Tuesday's Larkin win, and East coach Paul Jennison said the team will have Hull in the forefront of its thoughts as the unbeaten Saints pursue a 3A state title in the coming weeks.
Hull tore his ACL in April but worked doggedly to return to the field in time for the late stages of his senior season. His father, Clint, said Hull hoped to take the field tonight on East's senior night against Wheaton Warrenville South.
"The guys are heartbroken for him," Jennison said. "There's one kid I think who would ever put that much into coming back to high school in a time when sometimes high school sports get overlooked. He and his family have been massive advocates of what we do and the kid didn't even get the opportunity to get back out on the field. A simple wrong step like that is heartbreaking for the kid. We're going to be playing everything for him."
Hull, a Southern Illinois-Edwardsville recruit, faces his second ACL surgery – and the corresponding rehabilitation – in a span of about six months.
Count on the Saints doing their best to lift Hull's spirits.
"He's still a massive part of this team," Jennison said. "He always has been and he always will be."
'Role' with the punches
Kaneland senior Anthony Parillo's goal scoring is down this season, with good reason, said Knights coach Scott Parillo.
The Kaneland coach and Parillo's father said Anthony has been asked to play a defensive-minded midfield role this season based on the team's makeup.
"We needed somebody back there who could really hold their own defensively, and he's really good at that," Parillo said. "He's got very good leaping ability or, as the kids would say, he's got good hops. I think [Tuesday against Morris] he won every single 50-50 ball he went up for."
The coach said his son doesn't seem to mind the emphasis on defensive responsibility, and he's still able to pile up his share of assists when joining the attack.
As a whole, Parillo thinks the Knights are beginning to regroup from what he considered a mid-season lull. Kaneland beat Morris on Tuesday, 3-2.
"We finally started seeing it a couple practices ago," Parillo said. "Things kind of started clicking again. I think we're on the right track. Hopefully it will stay that way, but it is high school soccer. You don't always get the consistency that you want."
The IHSA postseason seeds released last week show that top-seeded St. Charles East could face St. Charles North in the 3A St. Charles East Regional semifinal on Oct. 23.
The Saints and host North Stars meet Saturday as East attempts to nail down the Upstate Eight Conference River championship. For the teams to meet again at regionals, North would have to beat Hoffman Estates in an opening-round match on Oct. 18.
Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg will meet in the other St. Charles East Regional semifinal.
IN THE GROOVE
What they did: Senior Daniel DiLeonardi scored goals in both of St. Charles East's wins Saturday at the Gateway City Classic, while sophomore Evan DiLeonardi had two of the Saints' four second-half goals Tuesday as East rallied past Larkin, 4-2, to remain undefeated.
Angel Escontrias, Kaneland, Fr.
What he did: Escontrias, the Knights' lone freshman, scored two of the team's three goals Tuesday in a 3-2 Northern Illinois Big 12 East win against Morris. "He's not the fastest kid but he knows where to be," Kaneland coach Scott Parillo said. "He knows how to put himself in the right spots."
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Wheaton Academy is in strong shape to win the Suburban Christian Conference.
The Warriors nipped fellow conference unbeaten Marian Central, 2-1, on Tuesday, and should be in the clear to take the conference title provided they can take care of Marmion on Wednesday.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Who will be king of the Upstate Eight Conference.
The UEC River champion (likely St. Charles East) and Valley champ (likely Metea Valley) are scheduled to square off next Wednesday in an unofficial conference championship showdown.
COACH SLY SAYS
What a win for the Fighting Saints on Tuesday night against Larkin.
Just when you were starting to wonder a little about East's scoring punch (two recent 0-0 draws against Streamwood, a scoreless first half against Larkin), the Saints unload on the Royals for four goals in the second half, in the nick of time to keep East atop the UEC River.
We'll see if the Saints can use the momentum from the Larkin game, and last weekend's successful trip to the STL, to return to buzz-saw mode in time for the postseason.