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updated: 9/12/2017 10:14 PM

Naperville Central's Strang doing work at both ends

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  • Naperville Central's Nico Couropmitree (2) congratulates teammate Cameron Strang (24) on his first half goal against Neuqua Valley during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.

      Naperville Central's Nico Couropmitree (2) congratulates teammate Cameron Strang (24) on his first half goal against Neuqua Valley during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central's Brad Palagi (1) and Neuqua Valley's Nate Kuper (16) battle for control of the ball during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.

      Naperville Central's Brad Palagi (1) and Neuqua Valley's Nate Kuper (16) battle for control of the ball during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Neuqua Valley's Jose Navarro (21) chase down Naperville Central's Ryan Coleman (7) during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.

      Neuqua Valley's Jose Navarro (21) chase down Naperville Central's Ryan Coleman (7) during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central's Nate Zain (20) and Neuqua Valley's Parker Domschke (20) battle for control of the ball during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.

      Naperville Central's Nate Zain (20) and Neuqua Valley's Parker Domschke (20) battle for control of the ball during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Neuqua Valley's Dylan Soto (1) comes up short on a diving block of a shot on goal by Naperville Central's Cameron Strang (24) during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.

      Neuqua Valley's Dylan Soto (1) comes up short on a diving block of a shot on goal by Naperville Central's Cameron Strang (24) during varsity boys soccer in Naperville on September 12, 2017.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
By Matt Le Cren
Daily Herald Correspondent

Cameron Strang's main job is preventing goals, but he's also adept at scoring them.

The Naperville Central junior defender did both Tuesday night, scoring his second of the season in the first half and helping the Redhawks post their third straight boys soccer shutout with a 2-0 defeat of visiting Neuqua Valley.

So which is more fun?

"For me it's probably scoring a goal," Strang said. "My job is to block all goals and stop as many shots as possible, so just getting in on the offense, that's something that I don't get to do very often."

Both of Strang's goals this season have come on headers. The first was off a corner kick, while the game-winner in this match came off a free kick.

Senior Zack Kokes sent a 36-yard free kick from the left wing into the middle of the box, where Strang leapt and sent a powerful header crashing into the Neuqua net with 17:20 to go in the first half.

"I just put all my focus on the ball and I kind of shrugged off the guys next to me," Strang said. "I put as much power and accuracy on the ball (as possible) to put it in the back of the net, so that was very exciting."

The Redhawks (7-3, 3-0 DuPage Valley Conference) are excited to have a two-way stalwart like Strang, who can use his height to advantage at both ends of the field.

"He's going up there winning all the headers," said Kokes, who added an insurance goal at the 35:30 mark of the second half. "Cam has been winning the ball in the air for us, so I just pick out the big guy in the box and let him do his thing."

Since the Redhawks don't have a big-time goal scorer, they are happy to get production from anywhere and anyone. They are scoring more on set pieces lately.

"We knew that (Strang was good in the air) last year, but we just couldn't find him," Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said. "Cam's good in the air and we've got a bunch of them that are good in the air, so teams can't completely focus on Cam."

Teams have had to focus on trying to get around Strang in the middle of Naperville Central's defense. Neuqua Valley (4-5, 0-2) wasn't able to do it, putting only 1 shot on goal.

Two other shots were blocked in front by Strang, including a point-blank rejection on Amish Gupta's shot that would have gone in with 1:15 left in the first half.

"I was just trying to get as much contact as I can on that ball, trying to hit it hard across the net," Gupta said. "Unfortunately they're big, tall and fast and they got there before I could finish it."

The Wildcats, who scored 9 goals in winning two games at a tournament at Wisconsin Dells over the weekend, were shut out for just the second time this season.

"We're moving the ball around pretty quickly," Gupta said. "However, one thing I think we need to do is finish more. We need to be more aggressive in taking shots and getting crosses in."

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