NORMAL -- Naperville Central's year-long quest to avenge a bitter loss in last year's Class 3A championship game moved full steam ahead Tuesday evening when the Redhawks defeated Edwardsville 1-0 in the Normal Community supersectional.
"Losing last year is what motivated us to get back (in the finals), so that's been the driving force that's kept us focused," said Naperville Central senior Jay Tegge.
A line drive off Tegge's foot from long range was the driving force in moving the Redhawks a step closer to their goal on Tuesday night. With a 30 mph wind at his back midway through the first half, Tegge drilled a shot from 40 yards out past the Edwardsville goalkeeper for the only score in the hard-fought contest.
"I saw the goal open," said Tegge, who also scored from similar range at the opposite end of the same field in last year's supersectional. "I knew we had the wind at our back and (coach Troy Adams) told us to take a lot of shots. I just looked up, saw that I had it and hit it."
Adams believes the shot may have caught the Edwardsville goalkeeper unaware.
"There was a group of kids around the ball and he hit a well-struck ball," Adams said. "When it pops out of nowhere, the goalie just can't see it. It's a hard ball to pick up from a group."
The Redhawks (22-1) fulfilled Adams' wish of taking a lot of shots. After a slow start, Naperville Central began to apply relentless pressure in the second half, just missing on numerous opportunities in the final period. The Redhawks outshot Edwardsville 14-3 in the game.
Despite having an overwhelming advantage in scoring attempts, Naperville Central was held at bay throughout the contest by a gritty Edwardsville team which, to no avail, applied some offensive pressure in the final three minutes in an attempt to knot the score.
"Hats off to them," Adams said. "That's a team that just works and works and works. They remind me of (Naperville) North, and that's really a great compliment to give a team. They gave us everything we could handle today, and it's a good preparation for what we're going to see in the state tournament."
The Redhawks will play Stevenson in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort.
Senior forward Pat Flynn, who set Naperville Central's single-season scoring record with 29 goals this year, is relishing another chance at the title.
"We remember the feeling that we had last year and we know that we don't want it again," he said. "It was a great win today. Edwardsville's a great team, but we know we're not done yet. We're happy about the win, but we have to continue to push. We're not satisfied until we get the championship."