Warren nets state championship
FRANKFORT — All the signs heading into Saturday night's Class 3A boys soccer state championship match pointed to Naperville Central claiming the title.
After the match, though, it was Warren's players who were pointing their index fingers high in the air, claiming, "We're No. 1!"
A photo session in the goal with the championship trophy capped the celebration for the Blue Devils, who netted their first state title thanks to a 2-1 overtime time victory over Naperville Central at Lincoln-Way North.
Nick Wegrzynowicz scored the game-winning goal. Tony Severini scored in regulation for the Blue Devils.
Warren (21-5-3) joins Barrington as the only Lake County teams to win a state championship in boys soccer.
"It's not about being the first Northern team to win it," Warren coach Jason Ahonen said. "(Lake County) has been a soccer hotbed for the last 10 years. It was a matter of time, and we were fortunate to make it our day.
"It's amazing," Ahonen added. "I've grown up playing sports my entire life. By far, this was the finest moment in sports that I've been involved with. I never played (soccer). These kids are just amazing. They're passionate and coachable."
Warren, which lost a pair of games at state last year and finished fourth, came into this season with a number of returning players and wanted another shot at the state championship.
Severini put Warren on top in the 27th minute, finishing a touch pass from Timmy Pieper. Severini got between two Naperville Central defenders and toe-poked the ball past Redhawks keeper Mike Pavliga.
"It was off a counter," Severini said. "Timmy lofted it over and I got to it. I was just able to get it with my right foot. ... It was the biggest goal of my career."
Warren held the lead until Naperville Central's Jack Patrick scored the tying goal with 14 seconds left, forcing overtime.
"My assistant coach Doogle Clark brought the boys in and talked to them," Ahonen said. "His message was, 'The game isn't over. They're tired and we're tired.' We had to keep being offensive-minded, and that's what we had to do right away."
Wegrzynowicz scored in the 82nd minute. He took a pass from Daniel Szczepanek in the box, beat a defender and then slid a shot past Pavliga just inside the far post.
"Honestly, I was a bit lucky," Wegrzynowicz said. "You need a little bit of luck to win the state (championship)."
The Blue Devils. who blanked Sandburg 3-0 in Friday's semifinal, then had to play the remaining extra time. Wegrzynowicz's goal was not sudden death.
"After regulation, words couldn't describe how we felt," Szczepanek said. "It was so awful. But we knew that we didn't come all this way to lose. We just went back and gave it our all. In the end, we got the W."
Sandburg 1, Stevenson 0: Despite its loss in the third-place game, the Patriots made history by winning the fourth-place trophy.
Stevenson (18-6-1) was making its first trip to state.
"It's all about history and it being our first time here," Patriots coach Mark Schartner said.
Sandburg (19-6-3) got its goal from Zack Beil in the 59th minute. Stevenson's Michael Weinstein nearly tied it in the 79th minute, as his shot just missed the near post.
"Fourth-best out of 180 teams," Weinstein said. "You can only look back and smile at what we accomplished. We would have liked to have walked away with first, second or third, but it was an honor being here."
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