NET GAINS

Tom Batters
Jacob Abou-Hanna

Note: This is the first installment of Net Gains, a weekly column devoted to the Dunlap, Peoria Notre Dame and Richwoods boys soccer teams. Ideas or comments can be sent to tbatters@timestoday.com.

Dunlap midfielder Jacob Abou-Hanna, known for his ability to score goals, is often forced to make a quick pass when the opposing coach stacks two or three defenders on him.

“When a team keys in on me, I can’t afford to hold the ball for very long,” Abou-Hanna said. “I have to get rid of it. Luckily, I have some great players around me, like Derek Mills and some of the forwards.”

Dunlap coach Allan Hansen said a lot of coaches double-teamed Abou-Hanna last year, and he expects the same to happen this year.

Abou-Hanna acknowledged that, too, but he wanted to make this point very clear:

“I’m not some superstar, or anything like that,” he said. “This is a team sport. I’m just one of the players on the field. Everybody does something during a game to help us win. It’s not just one guy.”

Hansen said Abou-Hanna deals with what the defense gives him, but he is talented enough to score at any time.

“He sees the field so well, and he’ll take some risks,” Hansen said. “He’s looking to score a goal at all times, but, if the opportunity is not there, he’ll make something happen by passing the ball.”

Abou-Hanna, a 4.0 student, is getting interest from several colleges, but he has not decided which one he will attend, or if he will even play soccer at all. He said he would like to major in either pre-med or pre-law.

“He’s a smart kid,” Hansen said. “A lot of college coaches have shown interest. I’m sure he’ll make a good decision.”

ND RANKED NO. 5

Peoria Notre Dame is currently ranked No. 5 in Illinois (No. 1 amongst Class 2A schools) in the ESPN RISE pre-season poll. Early season opponents St. Louis Chaminade and Christian Brothers are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in Missouri. Mid-season opponent Reitz Memorial is ranked No. 1 in Indiana.

ND starts the season Friday at home with a state championship game rematch against Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin at 7 p.m.

In September, ND will host some of the region’s top programs as St. Louis Chaminade, St. Louis Christian Brothers, Geneva, and Algonquin Jacobs come to Peoria for a series of games. ND will play Christian Brothers at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at home, and Chaminade at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at Bradley’s Shea Stadium.

For more information, see pndsoccer.com.

RICHWOODS OPENER

Richwoods opens its season at 4:30 p.m.Aug. 26 against East Peoria at Eastside Centre.

Richwoods beat East Peoria, 7-1, last year. Matt Abraham had four goals. Dave Benavidez, Omar Elhouar and Joey Broms also scored for the Knights. Elhouar and Broms are back this year. Abraham and Benavidez, the team’s two top scorers, graduated.

The Knights play at Granite City Saturday before opening Mid-State 6 Conference play at Woodruff Sept. 1.