Crosstown battle goes St. Charles North's way
Good things happen when St. Charles North's Nick McCullough scores goals and Mike Jasica wins faceoffs.
McCullough didn't score though in the first half in the annual, highly anticipated match against St. Charles East at East Side Sports Complex in St. Charles.
So, he made up for it in the second half, as did the North Stars' defense in a 15-5 victory.
St. Charles North rallied for a 6-5 lead at halftime and then turned a tight contest into a blowout, scoring 9 unanswered goals in the second half to win bragging rights as well as finish off a perfect 6-0 Upstate Eight Conference season.
McCullough scored all three of his goals in the second half to pace the winners.
"We just got that momentum going into the second half," he said. "Mike Jasica, our faceoff guy, started slow in the first half and then got it going and gave us the momentum."
St. Charles East (10-7) started out strong, limiting the North Stars' chances while taking a 2-1 lead after one quarter on Zack Behrens' go-ahead goal.
That set in a motion a wild second quarter, which saw both squads go back and forth, but neither pulling ahead by more than two goals. St. Charles North's Riley Martin, an NCAA Division II Seton Hill (Pa.) recruit, scored twice during the quarter, including with 1:35 left before halftime to give the North Stars a 6-4 lead. Still, they'd surrender a goal in the final minute and only carry a one-goal advantage into the second half.
It wouldn't matter though.
St. Charles North scored three times in the third quarter, but it was its defense in front of keeper Alex Datoli that made the biggest difference in taking a 9-5 lead into the final quarter as they kept the Saints from finding the back of the net and significantly reduced their opportunities to attempt to do so.
"We controlled the ball a lot better (in the second half)," St. Charles North coach Sean McCaffrey said. "That's the name of the game and we shut them out in the second half. Alec had a shutout earlier in the season so this doesn't surprise me. We started sliding earlier and getting to the ball earlier and rallied around our goalie."
St. Charles North (11-4) simply denied the Saints in the final quarter, which began slowly with the North Stars finally scoring on McCullough's second goal of the evening with 8:38 remaining. They'd go on to tally five more to pull away for good.
Both teams now await the playoff pairings, which will be announced this weekend.
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