For the first time in three years Wednesday, the Naperville North boys lacrosse team hoisted the golden trophy, the reward for winning the Naperville Lacrosse Cup Classic.
The Huskies dispatched cross-town rival Naperville Central 13-4 behind 5 goals from senior attackman Sean Sullivan. But if you think it was an easy win, consider that scores can often be deceiving.
The Redhawks were without junior attackman Jake Stegman, out with a leg injury, and still they were down just 4-1 at the half.
And on top of that, Naperville North had a bevy of scoring opportunities in the first nine minutes of the game and could convert only once, a Sullivan tally in front the net with an assist from senior attackman Scott Allgood.
"For us we hit a bunch of pipes to start off the game. I think we had two open nets," Naperville North coach Kevin Benages said. "You could tell the intensity and the energy was super high, and so we kept telling the guys, 'Keep shooting, keep shooting, the shots are going to fall. Just calm down, relax and take a deep breath.'"
The Huskies heeded Benages' missive to shoot early and often, to the tune of a 37-15 advantage, including 25-7 in the first half. But the misses were almost as exciting as the goals themselves. The most impressive was a point-blank shot from freshman Jacob Lubrant that bounced loudly off the right pipe at three minutes of the first quarter, drawing a prolonged "ohhh" from the crowd.
The shroud finally lifted for good for both teams in the third quarter. A pair of goals by Lubrant coming out of halftime, including a behind-the-back job at 9:51 gave the Huskies a 6-1 lead.
Naperville Central cut that deficit to 7-3 on the heels of goals from junior Max Feudo and sophomore Cameron Moore. Feudo's was a thing of beauty, snagging a pass off a long-run turnover and depositing into the center of the net.
"This is always one of our biggest focal points of the year," Feudo said, "where we try to come together for this game. It's a hard loss, but we did our best to fight back."
The Huskies scored 4 of the next 5 goals, including a well-crafted tally from Sullivan from about 5 yards out dead center at 5:53, after taking a pass from behind the net from senior midfielder Noah Pabarja. An 11-4 lead made the fourth quarter basically academic, which allowed Naperville North to hoist the trophy.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Allgood said. "We lost to them three years in a row now, and being able to pick that cup up and kiss it is an incredible feeling."
In addition to goals from Feudo and Moore, Naperville Central got scores from senior Michael Wang and junior Zachary Rimbos. Senior goalie Samuel Lipschutz also recorded 10 saves.
"Turnovers just didn't give us the opportunities we wanted," Redhawks coach Jay Havenaar said. "A couple of things we couldn't do turned into goals for them. We weren't able to get the groundballs off the faceoffs, and control the game with groundballs, faceoffs and transitions."