Naperville Central falls in boys soccer supersectional
The underdog got left in the fog.
Naperville Central wasn't supposed to go on a magical postseason run this year, but the Redhawks stunned Plainfield North for a regional title and then Naperville North for a sectional title to advance and play Morton in Tuesday's Class 3A Lewis supersectional.
Unfortunately, this "Cinderella Story," finally came to an end during extremely foggy conditions in Romeoville against a fantastic Morton team, which prevailed 3-0. The Mustangs also beat Naperville Central earlier this season 5-0.
"We talked before the game about the things we needed to do to win," Redhawks coach Troy Adams said. "We talked about getting eight behind the ball and outworking them and making sure that we're patient when we defend, and we talked about finishing opportunities and believing in ourselves."
Morton (26-2) took advantage of a free kick about 11 minutes into the first half when Baltazar Duran scored an unassisted goal.
It would proved to be all that the Mustangs would need, although the Redhawks created some nice chances, primarily in the first half, but couldn't finish.
"We did what we had to do but we just got very unlucky with the chances we didn't make and it cost us in the end," Redhawks senior goalkeeper Joe Kallikadan said. "Coming in, we knew we had a lot of work to be done, which we did. We worked on it and eventually it showed. We got as far as we could, but sadly it ended here."
Naperville Central (12-11) wasn't content simply playing in the supersectional.
Sure, the Redhawks didn't dominate all season like they did as the state runner-up in 2011 and 2012, as well as when they took third in 2013. Regardless, they always believed they had the talent to accomplish what they did these past couple weeks, despite losing 7 of 8 at one time and being 5-9 at the end of September.
"We talked repeatedly about how it's not how you start, but it's how you finish," Adams said. "We had the pieces in place and the joke I always used was that it took a little longer than normal to kind of get the puzzle pieces in the right spot."
The Redhawks had a shot carom off the crossbar five minutes into the second half, and that was as close they'd come to netting the equalizer.
Morton added a pair of goals within a three-minute timeframe with 13:45 and 10:35 remaining in the game respectively to seal the victory.
"I told them after the game that I couldn't be more proud of them," Adams said. "I don't think we lost, but I think we got unlucky at times."
While this will sting for a while, especially for the 14 seniors, it'll soon dissipate and the players will mostly remember their terrific post-season run.
"It was a special season," Redhawks senior Chris Schwaiger said. "I thought the last couple of years we had more talent, but this year we had more of a bond and team chemistry. I think that really showed throughout the year. We played more as a unit and were committed to winning."