Naperville North defeats friends at Naperville Central
The postgame handshake lines faded into something looking more like a huddle, with as many hugs as handshakes between Naperville North and Naperville Central girls soccer players.
The Huskies were consoling their cross-town friends and rivals.
"They recognize in this sectional that any win you get in the sectional playoffs is an accomplishment for sure," Huskies coach Brent Terada said. "And they're kids. Their friends from club soccer are across from them."
A 10th-minute Christa Szalach goal gave Naperville North a 1-0 victory Tuesday in a Class 3A Waubonsie Valley sectional semifinal in Aurora.
"Last year we lost to them off of a free kick," Szalach said. "It was terrible. (Naperville Central) is amazing. They always bring great competition to the table. It's a great feeling beating them."
The goal was a result of a nice buildup by the Huskies. With a stiff wind at their backs, they kept the ball on the ground, moving it around in a triangle just outside the Naperville Central penalty area until junior forward Hunter Drendel's back pass found Szalach about 25 yards from goal.
Szalach let loose a shot that curled just inside the right post.
"The shot was a great shot," Redhawks coach Ed Watson said. "We didn't do a great job of stepping out on her, but it was well struck."
"That was a great hit," Terada added. "No way around it. Hunter made a great decision there. Rather than force a bad turn or a rough turn, she did the unselfish thing, laid it off to our midfielders. She made the right run."
Naperville Central had several good chances to score, with freshman Abby Joyce hitting the right post in the 40th minute and junior Katherine Short hitting the crossbar in the 70th.
"They just kept bringing numbers," Terada said. "They were just getting in on us. There were definitely some tense moments there. We were forced to change formations a little bit to deal with the fact they were running right down the middle on us. So we brought in another central midfielder to kind of screen them. They continued to come at us, but they weren't able to come up the middle anymore, which allowed us to have time to recover defensively."
Senior goalkeeper Abby Green earned the shutout with help from defenders Adrienne Schertz, Abby Mangefrida, Jamie Meno and Kirsten Anderson.
"Our defense is pretty solid," Szalach said.
The Huskies' prize is to face undefeated Neuqua Valley, ranked No. 1 nationally, in a 6:30 p.m. Friday sectional final. The Wildcats defeated defending state champion Waubonsie Valley 5-1 Tuesday.