Neuqua Valley wins tournament
One by one, the faceoff wins piled up for Neuqua Valley senior Eddie McDonald on Saturday afternoon against Wheaton Warrenville South.
Thus, it probably wasn't a coincidence that the goals did, too, for the Wildcats in the title game of the North South Shootout boys lacrosse tournament at Wheaton North.
Neuqua Valley won 12-3 to go 4-0-1 in the tournament, which collected several of the top programs in the Chicago area, including the co-host Falcons and Tigers, St. Charles North, Palatine, Valley Lacrosse and Naperville Central.
McDonald was a perfect 17-0 in faceoffs against Wheaton Warrenville South. He also went 12-2 in a 12-3 semifinal win against Wheaton North earlier in the afternoon.
Think about that -- 29-2 in 80 minutes of play over two games. What does it take to make that happen?
"It's probably just using a variety of skills," McDonald said. "Being able to put the ball wherever I want it and using both sides of my wings and myself switching it up, so (the defense is) struggling to counter."
Senior attackman Ben Foy, who scored 4 goals and had 3 assists against the Tigers, marveled at McDonald's effort.
"That's huge," Foy said. "With Eddie, he's always grinding at the faceoff X, and it really helps our offense because it keeps the ball out of their offense's hands, and really lets us make it take it, get in the swing of things and get the momentum going."
The Wildcats actually tied the Tigers 4-4 Saturday morning in pool play and got down to them 1-0 in the title game thanks to senior midfielder Zach Powell's goal with 18:16 to go in the first half.
But then McDonald took over and so did Foy and his offensive mates.
After a goal by sophomore Dan Curtis at 14:19, with the assist from Foy, Foy tallied twice in the next 2:11, and then again shortly before half to give the Wildcats a 5-2 advantage at halftime.
It was all Neuqua Valley in the second half, as six players scored, including Foy once and junior attackman Connor Giacomelli twice. Powell scored another goal with 18:18 left in the game.
"We have a lot of young players, three freshmen starters, and we took a lot of big steps during the weekend," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Mike Blouin said. "We saw some glaring weaknesses and things we're strong in, and things we need to work on as the regular season continues."
From senior midfielder Ricky Hoover's perspective, though, there's plenty of work to do.
"We've got a lot of things to work on, like groundballs, transition play and just talking on defense and offense," Hoover said. "We put things together at some points, but sometimes we kind of fell apart, to be honest."
The Tigers went 3-1-1 in the tournament but got outshot 19-5 in the title match.
In the first semifinal Saturday, the Tigers slipped past St. Charles North 5-4 behind a pair of first-half goals from Hoover and junior attackman Josh Taylor. Powell tallied the game winner late in the match. Sophomore Nick Schrepferman, a transfer from Wheaton Academy, scored twice for St.. Charles North (2-1-1).
"I think the team is really coming together," Schrepferman said. "We need to work the ball around and look for open shots."
In the second semifinal, Neuqua Valley breezed past Wheaton North behind 3 goals from senior midfielder Sam Schink, and 2 apiece from his brother, Ben, and senior attackman Cade Champion.
Despite the loss junior attackman Matt Gemkow said tings are looking up for the Falcons (1-1-2), who were missing coach Chris Weed due to the flu.
"Our team is building up pretty well so far, after two weeks of practice," said Gemkow, who had 2 goals. "The tournament showed how we can improve, and some things to work on for the future, and I'm looking forward to that."