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updated: 11/3/2017 11:14 PM

Boys soccer: Naperville North charges past St. Charles North

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  • Naperville North's Jack Barry, third from left, scored a first-half goal and celebrates with teammates against St. Charles North in the boys state soccer semifinals at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.

      Naperville North's Jack Barry, third from left, scored a first-half goal and celebrates with teammates against St. Charles North in the boys state soccer semifinals at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

When your opponent has won 17 straight games and posted 13 shutouts during such a winning streak, you cannot afford to give up an early goal.

And you most definitely do not want to fall behind by two goals, especially when your opponent has yielded two or more goals just once all season.

St. Charles North certainly didn't get off to the kind of start that it wanted against Naperville North during Friday's IHSA Class 3A semifinal game in Hoffman Estates.

By the time the North Stars appeared to have settled in, they were down a couple goals. They never recovered, losing 2-0.

The Huskies (26-1-1), who established a school record with their 20th shutout, advanced to Saturday's state final against Libertyville (20-0-2) where they will attempt to win their second straight championship and third overall. The North Stars will play Bradley-Bourbonnais for third place beforehand.

"(The shutouts) speak volumes about our back line and our proud tradition at Naperville North," Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. "The boys have done a really good job of scrambling and fighting for each other.

"(St. Charles North) has some very good guys up top and at times they broke us down and got behind us, but the rest of the guys followed their marks and tracked their runners down and were where they needed to be to bail them out."

A ferocious start by the Huskies, who haven't lost in October or November since 2015, seemed to surprise the North Stars.

"They kind of smacked us in the mouth with their intensity and we just didn't seem prepared to deal with it at first," North Stars coach Eric Willson said. "That being said, I could not be more proud of my guys for how we played in the second half, how hard we fought in the second half.

"I thought we were a bit of a different team in that second half, but we just couldn't find a way to create the right kind of opportunity to try to claw our way back in the game."

The North Stars (16-3-4) caught a break when goalkeeper Piercarlo Ricossa stopped Ty Konrad's penalty kick about 10 minutes into play.

Such a big play couldn't kick them into gear, though. Patrick Koenig blasted in a free kick from just outside the penalty area to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead with 26:46 left in the opening half.

"Me and Ethan (Harvey) were on the ball and the goalie was off the line," Koenig said. "We were going to shoot it early and then the ref got in the way of that. So I just kind of stepped up and figured I had something and just had a good hit on it and put it in the back of the net."

The Huskies extended their lead about two minutes later when the North Stars failed to clear the ball from the penalty area. Among a crowd, Jack Barry seized control of the loose ball and scored.

"We knew they'd come out really hard and one of our focuses was to come out and be on the forefront at the beginning," Barry said. "Pat had a great hit on that shot and I was fortunate to finish the second. We had a ton of chances at the beginning and tried to stay focused and put it down their throats and get a lead and keep it."

Which they did for the 26th time in 28 games.

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