It's been that type of season for the Naperville North boys water polo team. The Huskies, the top seed of the Metea Valley sectional, dispatched fourth-seeded Neuqua Valley 15-8 on Friday to set up an 11 a.m. Saturday sectional final against second-seeded Naperville Central.
Naperville North, the state's top-ranked team, moved to 30-1 with the victory. But despite all the success it has achieved, the Huskies remained focused on their remaining objectives.
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"We're taking it one game at a time. The loss to Lyons gave us a reality check," said senior Garrett Nash. Naperville North lost to Lyons on April 29, 8-7.
The Huskies have faced Naperville Central three times already this season. The Redhawks (24-6), ranked fourth in the state, dispatched York 15-4 in the second boys semifinal on Friday.
As it has been all season, Naperville North's offense was spread among several players. Nolan Roberts led the way with 4 goals. Drake McClure, Luke Landiak, Joe Tomashek. B.D. Chapman and Nash each scored twice and Ryan Towers added a goal.
The Huskies were on the scoreboard 24 seconds into a game on a goal from McClure on a pass from Gianmarco Duin, one of 5 assists from him for the victors.
Landiak scored just less than two minutes later to make it 2-0 and with 3:48 left in the quarter, Tomashek got a shot off in a crowd to make it 3-0. And up to that point, the game was all Naperville North.
Neuqua Valley's Simon Shatinsky got within a couple of feet of the net, forcing Naperville North goalie Jack Roche to make a point-blank grab.
Shatinsky struck later, with just 43 seconds left in the quarter on a similar play. The Huskies led 6-1 at the end of it.
Naperville North struck six times during the second quarter, but the Wildcats (18-14) kept pace with 4 goals. Shatinsky scored his second goal, Austin Mollway also hit net and Scott DuPuy scored two of his three goals for the game in the final 1:36 of the period. The Huskies led 12-5 at halftime.
Coach Martin Bell said it's the time of the year that a team has to be sharply focused, especially after jumping out to a quick lead and dominating the game early like Naperville North did.
"Anytime for the rest of the season, you have to be concerned about a letdown or you'll lose and you're done. The team is cognizant of that," Bell said.
Neuqua fielded a team that will have a good portion of it returning in 2015. Coach Adam Hoffer said that regardless of Friday's outcome, he wanted the Wildcats to keep progressing as a squad.
"We wanted this game badly, but we have a great core of guys returning and we'll continue to push it in the off-season," Hoffer said.
A backhanded shot from Roberts on a pass from Landiak, gave Naperville North a 14-6 lead with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter. Joey Dalesandro scored twice for Neuqua in the final two quarters.
The girls sectional final at noon Saturday also will feature Naperville North and Naperville Central.
The Redhawks defeated Neuqua Valley 11-5. The Huskies won 11-4 against St. Charles North.