Naperville Central makes it three straight trips to state
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Apparently, Naperville Central's Devon Amoo-Mensah is so good that he scores goals even when he doesn't.
The senior all-stater appeared to head in the game-winning goal at the 63rd minute of Tuesday's Class 3A Romeoville supersectional at Lewis University. The thing is, he didn't need to. Still, he was right there to ensure Jay Tegge's corner kick curved in.
It proved to be all that the Redhawks needed in a 2-0 victory over Morton to advance to this weekend's state finals.
"To be honest I didn't even touch it," Amoo-Mensah said with a laugh. "It just went in. They gave me credit, and I'll take it, but that was all Jay."
Tegge had narrowly put the Redhawks ahead 30 seconds earlier but Morton goalkeeper Ian Chacon made a fantastic one-hand punch on Tegge's 22-yard attempt. Danger wasn't averted during the ensuing corner kick though as Tegge used his smarts and a perfect touch to beat Chacon.
"The corner before the goalie came out and overcommitted and dropped it," Tegge said. "So I thought, 'Why not try the same thing again, but with a little more whip on it?' I think a gust of wind came and blew it right in."
Aided by the wind, Tegge's corner kick kept curving and curving and curving until it snapped into the back of the net, just ahead of a hard-charging Amoo-Mensah.
"When you get to this point of the season, it takes a combination of some outstanding soccer and a little bit of luck," Redhawks coach Troy Adams said. "I think we had both down here today. I thought we played some great soccer and I think that goal wasn't a lucky goal, but we had a nice spin on the ball and managed to find the back of the net."
Lucky teams don't advance to the state finals though — great soccer programs do. Naperville Central is in that class. The Redhawks became the first Class 3A team to advance to three straight finals since Edwardsville (2008-10). Peoria Notre Dame was bidding for its sixth straight appearance in 2A, but was denied by Wheaton Academy 2-0 in DeKalb on Tuesday. The Redhawks will face Edwardsville in the Class 3A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.
"We just had our awards assembly for our program and one of the overlying themes I was talking about was legacies," Adams said. "This senior group and the juniors and our sophomore have continued our legacy of playing really outstanding soccer."
Naperville Central (17-2-2) seemingly put the game out of reach on Jordi Heeneman's rebound goal off a Sam Reskala shot in the 67th minute.
The Redhawks controlled possession all evening, outshooting Morton 16-6 and not yielding a single corner kick.
"A lot of times in soccer you dominate but don't get that goal," Tegge said. "We earned it and we were very lucky we got those two in."
Morton (25-3-0) beat Naperville Central 1-0 in the 2011 Class 3A title game. That certainly was in the back of the mind of Adams, the seniors, who were there as sophomores, as well as graduates from that team that are now spread around the country.
"I got a lot of texts from those guys," Adams said. "In fact, I got one from Mike Plant (2011). He said, Good luck, coach, and I said, Hey, we'll try to make up for last time. I told him I'll text him afterward."
Smiley emoticons have been sent.
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