The boys soccer players at Naperville Central have long memories.
"Last season we lost to them first round, we got upset," Redhawks senior Rokas Stadalninkas said. "They were like the 16th or 17th seed and we were the second seed again, and really it was kind of just like us wanting to get revenge for that. Especially for the seniors that got their season ended short last year because we were hoping to make a good run. So right off the bat, intensity high, we just tried to get one early."
Actually, the Redhawks scored twice in the first eight minutes to take control and cruised to a 3-0 victory against last year's tormentor, Plainfield Central, in a Class 3A Naperville North sectional semifinal.
The No. 2-seeded Redhawks advanced to the 5 p.m. Friday sectional final against the No. 1 Huskies. The teams have split two games this season.
Not that the chance to play cross-town rival Naperville North one more time isn't motivation enough, but beating Plainfield Central was special.
"For sure, especially taking it one game at a time. It's been our motto the whole entire postseason because last season we overlooked these guys, got beat 1-0 upset," Stadalninkas said.
The way Stadalninkas sees it, the Redhawks' and Huskies' defenses are pretty even. The difference could be in the attack. It gave the Redhawks confidence to score three times against Plainfield Central.
Zack Kokes scored the first goal in the fifth minute, controlling and then burying a Nate Zain throw-in.
In the eighth minute sophomore Nico Couropmitree scored off a Cameron Strang assist.
Ryan Coleman scored just after halftime when Plainfield Central couldn't clear the ball from its penalty area.
"This is kind of the time in the postseason when you really want to start scoring goals any way they come," Stadalninkas said.
The properly motivated Redhawks barely let the Wildcats move the ball across midfield. Junior goalkeeper Ethan Conners needed to make just 1 save, in the 69th minute, before exiting for Ron Marchionna.