Naperville North's thick skin got a little thicker Tuesday night.
Trailing most of the game after giving up a first-half penalty kick, the Huskies scored late to tie East Aurora, then won the Class 3A Naperville North sectional semifinal 2-1 six minutes into overtime.
"Just be patient. Just keep your heads. This is one of the things you can't practice the emotions of anybody, but especially kids. It's tough to control in a game like this. But they're a tough group. We've got a tough group of boys. They've been through the ringer emotionally last year," Huskies coach Jim Konrad said, noting all his players went through to get downstate last year, with many of those players back this year. "They have something of a thicker skin than most probably teams do. They feel like they can battle back."
The top-ranked Huskies (21-0-1) will find out tonight who they will play in Saturday's sectional final. The second semifinal was suspended in the first half due to lightning with Naperville Central leading Batavia 1-0.
East Aurora took the lead in the 23rd minute when Juan Bustamante was taken down in the penalty area. David Reynoso converted the penalty kick.
"It's tough," Huskies defender Lee Grander said. "Every game we know that they're going to play their best game because we are No. 1, so we just gotta come out and match their intensity and play our best game."
Naperville North pressed for the equalizer, dominating possession in the second half and outshooting the Tomcats 18-0 in the second 40 minutes, but the Tomcats defense held firm.
The Huskies finally tied the score in the 69th minute on Grander's flick-on header of a long Evan Trychta free kick.
"It's great. I was in the right place at the right time, helping our our goalie (Kevin Anderson)," Grander said. "(The goal) was definitely a relief. I had so many opportunities I didn't want to let the team down. That goal just topped it off. That was awesome."
Grander earned the goal. He hit the crossbar in the 61st minute and made a chest save of an East Aurora shot in the seventh minute.
"For sure he deserved that goal," teammate Joe Sullivan added.
The game-winner came in the 86th minute on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Trychta again earned the assist, feeding a wide-open Sullivan for the shot. Sullivan made sure he didn't miss.
"It was all Evan," Sullivan said of his 14th goal of the season. "It set up nice because Kyle (Lindberg) played a pretty nice back heel. We've been trying to get that kind of goal, the fancy kind, all year, so it's nice that it finally worked out tonight. Connor (Sharples) played a great ball to Evan and Evan just found me."