Boys lacrosse: Warren nets first state semifinal berth
He wasn't thrilled after his first game as a freshman lacrosse keeper for Warren.
"I remember we lost my very first game 18-2, and I thought, 'This isn't the way I wanted this (career) to start,' " said Evan Leden, now a senior and arguably one of the best keepers in the state. "I'm glad I stuck around. This means everything. We've worked our butts off, and it's paying off. We have to stay grounded though."
With about 30 ticks left in regulation in Tuesday night's Lake Zurich supersectional, Glenbrook North trailed 5-4 and had the ball.
The Spartans got a good shot off, only Leden blocked it. That was momentarily before sophomore defender Tommy Matheson hustled over and secured it.
Leden and his teammates gave the Warren faithful plenty to cheer about, as they upended Glenbrook North 5-4. It was the farthest the program had ever gone, and the Blue Devils now play in the Final Four at Hinsdale Central. Warren (20-3) will face either Glenbard West or Lincoln Way Central at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"We predicted that it would come down to our defense vs. their offense," said Leden, who finished with 12 big saves on the night. "The shot (late in regulation) hit my arm and dropped. I didn't see it at first until Tommy had secured it about 6 inches from the goal line. What a relief. This was one of the biggest games of my and our lives, and we're just happy to move on."
After a scoreless first quarter, Warren exploded in the second frame.
Junior middie and attacker Charlie Herrick first fed a streaking freshman attacker Clayton Bewick on a beautiful pass at the 11-minute mark of the second and 1-0 lead.
Glenbrook North (13-9) showed signs of life as well, answering right back with the equalizer six seconds later.
But Warren came right back to take the lead for good on a goal by junior attacker Kevin McCarthy to make it 2-1 with 9:47 left in the half.
Junior Logan Haar then scored back-to-back goals, and Warren had a 4-1 advantage at halftime.
"We knew we had to jump on them early," Haar said. "We have a lot of faith in Evan (Leden) and our defense. But we know we still have more lacrosse to play and have to stay focused."
Glenbrook North, the third seed in the sectional, cut the deficit to 4-2 at the 8:34 mark of the third.
But Warren, which was the top seed in the sectional, made it a 3-goal game once again when junior middie Mason Wattleworth blasted one past the Spartan keeper at the 4:45 mark.
Glenbrook North made things interesting with two goals in the fourth to cut it to 5-4 with 4:14 left in the contest.
But then it was time for Leden and that stingy Warren defense to take center stage. Junior defender Luc Landry's steal with 2:50 left helped Warren get the ball and help run out the clock before Leden's big stop.
"Our defense was outstanding and we took the short sticks away from them," Blue Devils coach Greg Janczak said. "This is the biggest win in school history for us. We've been a top-10 team. Now we're top-4 and hopefully turning some heads."