Wheaton North found out the hard way -- Naperville North is still a very good team.
A season after losing some of the best players in the state to graduation, the Huskies opened their DuPage Valley Conference schedule with a convincing 5-0 victory Tuesday in Naperville against the Falcons.
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"We knew what we had to do," said Huskies senior center back Neil Wiaranowski. "We had to come out in the first couple of minutes and prove who we are. We played Naperville North soccer. We connected a lot of passes and we just came out and got a lot of shots, a lot of goals, and it felt great."
"I think the first (couple of) minutes they did a nice job of pressuring us, and then Joey getting that goal, that long-range goal, for any team that's a shot to the stomach," added Huskies coach Jim Konrad. "And then we followed up with a goal again pretty quick after and that changed the tide of the game, obviously. We've had some success this year, so when the boys start scoring they kind of sense that blood in the water."
The Huskies put Wheaton North (1-4-2, 0-1) on its heels in the game's third minute, scoring on Joe Sullivan's 32-yard blast. Just five minutes later Madisen Gonzalez made it 2-0, winning a 50-50 ball in the penalty area and scoring from 5 yards out.
Geoff Horn's 18th-minute goal made it 3-0, and Zach Peterson put the Huskies up 4-0 just before halftime with a 17-yard blast.
Sullivan scored again in the 50th minute off a Marek Jurkiwicz assist.
"Just the pace," Falcons coach Bryce Cann said of the difference in the game. "When the first one goes in 2:30, 2:45 into the match. One of the things we've been talking about is you can't start a match at a low level. You've got to be ready to play right from the first whistle. That's something that we've struggled with lately.
"We just have to keep learning and adjust to it. You don't get minutes off in a DVC match, you don't get minutes off in the western suburbs. We have to keep playing and pick that up."
The Falcons should improve with maturity, but patience will be important.
"We've got a lot of young kids right now, so that's part of it, but the young kids we have are capable of playing," Cann said. "It's a matter of adjusting to the pace and all of that. But we're seven games in, and you have to apply those lessons. You can't be relearning the same thing over and over. That's part of the growing process with all of this. We'll be OK in the end, but these are tough lessons to learn."
"They're young, so they'll find their way eventually," Konrad added. "I'm glad we got them early."
Konrad was very happy with the way his team played.
"I thought we played very well," he said. "I'm happy with the way our back four has been organized defensively. I think Wiaranowski has done a great job of keeping us organized in the back. It's something we pride ourselves on here is defending as a team, and we did a good job of that tonight. I'm really happy with the fact we're sharing the ball this year. Even though we lost a lot of talent -- we had a lot of individual stars the last few years here -- I feel like our goals are really nice goals to see. Especially that fifth one, where we had five or six passes and then (Sullivan) finished it."
"It's a great confidence-booster for us," Wiaranowski added of the Huskies' third shutout of the season. "Now we know how we can play and how we should be playing against every team. Now we've got to keep this going through our practices, keep working hard, keep focusing so we can keep this going against other teams too."