The Naperville North boys water polo team did what it was supposed to Friday night, beating York 18-9 in the first Neuqua Valley sectional semifinal.
But when you are the Huskies, the sectional’s top seed and the No. 2 team in the state according to one poll, you have big goals that involve a trip to Stevenson High School and next week’s state finals. And you want and need to improve with each game because your opponents want the same things as well.
“Today, we worked on varying offenses so defenses can’t adapt,” said Eric Curia, who led the team with 9 goals. “We communicate well. I couldn’t play on a better team.”
The Huskies face Hinsdale Central at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the sectional final. The third-seeded Red Devils beat Naperville Central 10-9 in the second semifinal Friday night to advance.
In Saturday’s girls Neuqua Valley sectional final, Naperville North will meet Naperville Central at 11 a.m.
Naperville North’s boys have beaten Hinsdale Central twice already this season, but assistant coach Ryan Stanley said trying to beat a team multiple times in a season is a challenge for any squad.
“It’s the hardest thing to do. Teams adjust to you and Hinsdale Central is a good team,” he said.
Curia scored 21 seconds into the game and scored five more times in the quarter. Luke Landiak scored his first of 2 goals and Nolan Roberts hit for the first of his 4 goals with under 30 seconds left in the period.
The Huskies took an 8-0 lead into the second quarter and didn’t let up. Curia scored three more times, Roberts twice and Drake McClure once to help Naperville North lead 14-2 at intermission.
Roberts said the Huskies’ experience is especially showing on offense.
“Last year, we were all young and afraid to shoot. We’ve become a team of snipers this season,” he said.
Defense has also been crucial to the Huskies’ success with a good portion of their goals Friday coming as a result of counterattacks.
“Every time they were about to shoot, we would go down and attack. I think half our goals were from counterattacks,” Curia said.
The Dukes, ranked 19th in the state and a sectional fifth seed, showed some life on offense in the final two quarters, outscoring the Huskies 7-5 with the help of 6 goals from Patrick McKenna.
Rounding out the scoring in the second half for Naperville North were Blakedaniel Chapman and David Holzer.
“Overall, this group has bonded together. They automatically do what they need to do when they get in the water like recognizing defenses and that’s huge. There is senior leadership. There is junior leadership,” Stanley said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.