Swope keeps Naperville Central on right path
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the spelling of a player's name.
Most of the Naperville Central boys soccer players probably have never seen "Top Gun."
Still, that hasn't stopped coach Troy Adams from nickmaming his senior tri-captain Drake Swope, "Iceman."
Swope has moved to a defensive role since the postseason, and he's made the Redhawks an even more difficult out. His strong defensive effort helped Naperville Central to a 2-0 victory over Waubonsie Valley in Saturday's Class 3A Metea Valley sectional championship.
The Redhawks have outscored four teams in the state series 10-2.
"Everything he does is calm, so we've joked, and I'm not sure the kids even know 'Top Gun' references, but we've nicknamed him the 'Iceman' because he's so cool and collected," Adams said. "He does a great job of getting us organized. He played a lot through the midfield during year, but at this time we need someone in back who has been there before with good organization skills, good leadership skills and he's done a nice job for us."
Naperville Central (17-2-2) jumped on the Warriors early as Jordi Heeneman took a ball from Jay Tegge and found the net just 80 seconds in.
"I saw Jay look up early and started running," Heeneman said. "I just got a toe on it right outside of the box before (goalkeeper Jordan Ward) could get his hands on it. I just got it over him and just knew I had to get something extra on it to get in so I just headed it in."
Waubonsie Valley (10-8-2) had hoped for a stronger start, especially against a team that it also lost to 3-0 on Sept. 7.
"We got off the bus losing 1-0," Warriors coach Angelo DiBernardo said. "When you fall behind 1-0 that early it sets the tone; it's hard to recover and it's a huge mental psychological advantage on their part."
The Redhawks extended their lead to 2-0 with 27:39 remaining in the first half when junior Mitch McGuire found Ben Border.
The quick start was just what Adams was hoping to see in a game of this magnitude.
"Complete flip-flop from Tuesday where I thought we came out sluggish," he said. "Today I thought the first 10 minutes the pedal was on and those are little things that can make the difference for a team to advance or not advance."
The Redhawks had plenty of other chances to extend the lead but fell short of doing so. Ward made some key saves to keep the Warriors within striking distance.
"He made some good saves," DiBernardo said. "On the first goal, I thought maybe he could've come out and at least kicked the ball instead of waiting for it to get to him. But we didn't win or lose because of that. There were other reasons why they beat us 2-0."
Still, despite the loss, it was a monumental season for a program that hadn't advanced this far in many years.
"I think our players and our team did better than expected," DiBernardo said. "I don't think anyone would've thought we'd be here playing for a sectional championship."
Naperville Central will face Morton at 5 p.m. in Tuesday's Romeoville supersectional at Lewis University.
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