Wheaton North tops WW South, clinches Wheaton Cup
Leo De La Torre and Will Wanzenberg recorded a pair of firsts and Wheaton North was second-to-none Thursday night.
De La Torre scored his first varsity game-winning goal off a Wanzenberg assist to lift the host Falcons to a 1-0 DuKane Conference victory over cross-town rival Wheaton Warrenville South at Rexilius Field.
The win gave Wheaton North (8-5-1, 3-0) possession of the Wheaton Cup for the first time in Rob Stassen's four-year tenure as coach.
"This is a special team," Wanzenberg said. "I can honestly say there is a lot of depth, there is very little gaps in skill from player to player.
"Everybody is on the same level. We are hungry to win games, we are hungry to make our mark in this new conference."
The Falcons are doing it with a roster that is the deepest Stassen has fielded. De La Torre and Wanzenberg epitomize that as both come off the bench.
The two seniors wasted no time making an impact when they entered nearly midway through the first half.
Wanzenberg, an outside midfielder, sprinted up the wing and took the ball all the way to the end line before crossing to De La Torre for a tap-in goal.
It's very special coming in (as a) first-time varsity (player) as a senior," DeLaTorre said. "It feels great to be able to do something good for the team, something that means something."
De La Torre did not play last year but returned to the program and made the varsity cut. He has scored four goals for the Falcons, who have one more win than they did last season.
"He's a changed kid," Stassen said. "He's only going to take 15 or 20 minutes a game, if that, and what you're going to get out of him in those 15 minutes is just 100 miles an hour.
"He's always in the right spot. All of his goals have been that one-touch, tap-in."
For that De La Torre can thank Wanzenberg, a kindred spirit who also felt he had a lot to prove against WW South. He was appearing in his first cross-town game and has battled assorted leg injuries that have cost him several games, including the past two.
"I was trying my best to get healthy in time for this game," Wanzenberg said. "I actually missed the Wheaton Cup last year due to injury, too, so this is my first time playing in it and really glad I could get the assist to win the game."
The Tigers (2-6-1, 0-2-1) played tough defensively, but the Falcons scored on a play they executed to perfection.
"Leo and I got some good chemistry going, so I beat two guys down the line and just knew where he'd be," Wanzenberg said. "It's what we always practice every day.
"I knew where he'd be, so I played it to his feet and he tapped it in."
Tigers goalkeeper Joe Adamek, who had a solid game and made a brilliant reflex stop on Lael Mondragon with eight minutes remaining, was upbeat despite the loss.
"Our defense played great this game," Adamek said. "It was a great team effort and hopefully we can keep it going.
"(The Falcons) are a really good team, so to be able to compete with them like this feels great."