It’s not often a high school soccer team returns 11 players from the season before. Fenwick head coach Robert Watson has that many back this time around but with an added bonus: of the 11 returning, 10 are seniors and six are previous starters.

“It’s a real experienced and strong group this season,” said Watson. “It’s a positive sign. Usually we return maybe three starters and have a heavy number of young guys on the team. We’re in a good situation with the group we have back.”

The six starters returning from last season’s campaign that resulted in an 11-9-2 overall record and a regional championship include three-year starter Tom Semba (sweeper), Joe Fahey (stopper), Albano Latifi (midfielder), Quinn Smith (midfielder), David Tracy (forward) and Jack Alberts, who started as a freshman last season. Alberts, who will move from defense to midfielder this season, has already caught the attention of several Division I college scouts.

“Jack is extremely intuitive when it comes to soccer and extremely fast,” said Watson about the sophomore, whose older brother Matt will also play a significant role on the team this season. “He’s adjusted to the tempo of the varsity game already.”

Jack Alberts played on the Lemont Raiders U15 club that recently competed at nationals in Kansas. “He’s sure to play a significant role in our attack this season,” added Watson.

But keeping to the team’s cohesiveness of last season, Watson isn’t expecting to have one player carrying the load.

“I anticipate us getting goals from three or four guys consistently like we did last season,” he said. “There’s too much talent and experience on this team to have one player leading the charge.”

Other seniors back and expected to make an impact from the get-go include Kevin LaBarge (defense), Dominic Calabrese (defender), Marshall Janezicious (forward) and goalkeeper John Planek, who Watson described as “phenomenal” during summer camp.

“We are expecting big things from Planek,” Watson said of his goalie who played a third of the season last year behind all-league and all-sectional selection Mike Jank.

Junior Murphy Brennan (midfielder) and sophomore Francisco Moreno (midfielder) are expected to find starting roles as the season progresses, according to Watson.

“We had a real good sophomore team last year and these guys are a product of that,” he said. “I’ll need to find room for them somewhere.”

With the recent addition of St. Joseph, seven teams now make up the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division this season. Watson said winning the division title remains a main goal for his team.

The Friars were scheduled to kick-off the season against Richards in the Windy City Ram Classic on Aug. 24 (after deadline). A victory would advance them to take on either St. Laurence or Argo on Thursday at Argo. The championship game of the tournament will be held at Toyota Park in Bridgeview on Sept. 4.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...