Naperville Central junior keeper Kent Emden certainly made up for lost time.
Two weeks ago, Emden was attending a National Tryout in California -- but while he was gone, the Redhawks still managed to sneak past nemesis Stevenson 7-6.
Now, with the state series commencing in Lincolnshire this week, Emden wasn't about to miss the Redhawks' quarterfinal date with the Pats on Thursday evening. On the line was a date in the semis against Conant at 10:15 a.m. Saturday.
"I know I'm always in good hands," said Emden of the trust he has in his teammates. "But it's great to get the win. We were so psyched all throughout the game. It was a total team effort, not just one guy."
Well, Emden had a lot to do with the outcome as the second-ranked Redhawks handed the third-ranked Pats a 12-7 defeat. It was their third victory this season over the defending champs.
Naperville Central (32-1) got the offense rolling early and often.
Utility players Bender Russo, Dominic May, Cam Dougherty, and Brad Sanford all scored goals and before you could blink it was 4-0 with 1:20 left in the opening period.
"We spread the ball around and everyone stepped up," said coach Bill Salentine.
"We focused on the man up situations and driving through the defender."
Meanwhile, Emden was blocking everything that came his way. He ended up with 6 saves in the opening quarter and 16 for the game.
"Our offense starts with Kent in goal," said Salentine.
Stevenson, which usually gets off to the fast starts, was forced to play catch-up all night.
The Pats got on the board when defender Filip Mihajlovic scored late in the first to make it 4-1.
But the Redhawks' defense and Emden kept Stevenson at bay pretty much the rest of the way.
Sanford added 2 more goals and utility Lucas Nervig got into the mix with a goal as well in the second. Stevenson attacker AJ Carollo scored on a long heave from keeper Charlie Day (6 saves) but the Pats trailed 7-2 at half.
Nervig, Dougherty and May then scored their second goals of the game, while utility Luke Klein-Collins also scored. And even Emden got into the action with a full-pool goal at the end of the third.
Kapecki scored his second of the game but the Redhawks were in control 12-3 heading to the fourth.
And you know the champs weren't going away quietly, scoring 3 unanswered goals in the fourth. Freshman utility Drew Wangard scored twice and Justin Ginsberg added a single goal for Stevenson.
"We came out as flat as we ever have," said Pats coach Sean Wimer, whose guys finished 29-5 overall. "It's unfortunate because of the stage we were on and I feel so bad for the seniors, but it is what it is. We just didn't execute and finish our plays. The little things hurt us."