Boys lacrosse: Stevenson nips Palatine

Stevenson owned the fourth quarter Monday night at Palatine.

The Patriots' boys lacrosse team scored 4 times in the space of 3:42 in the final period to claim a 9-6 win and gain a boost of confidence heading into Saturday's IHSA state playoffs.

That's when, in a schedule quirk, the Pirates and Stevenson will play each other again in the opening game of the postseason.

"This was a big game for us, and we really prepared for it," said Patriots freshman Ryan Hynes, who scored twice. "To get a good one like this going in to the playoffs really gives us an advantage. We've just got to play as hard as we can Saturday. Palatine is a solid team and they've got a lot of good players. We've got to keep improving."

Stevenson was strong on attack in the contest, putting up 45 total shots, 33 on goal. Pirates goalkeeper Rand Paddack kept his team in the game with an extraordinary 24 saves.

"Rand is hands down one of the top five goalies in the state," said Palatine coach Christopher Gantz. "He's only a sophomore, and he deserves every accolade that he gets because he plays with heart every time he steps on the field."

Trailing at halftime, Palatine scored three times in the third period on 2 goals Nick Oswald and 1 from Peter Russchenberg to trail by only one heading into the deciding stanza.

Then the Patriots hit the Pirates with the 4-spot early in quarter four to put the game of out reach as Seth Collins scored twice, Hynes tallied one goal and Bryce Wujcik got the final goal for Stevenson.

"We talked (at the end of the third quarter) about tightening it up," said Stevenson's Nate Spina. "Keep it tight on offense, move the ball, and on defense start communicating."

Cole Okmin of the Patriots dented the net for 2 goals, Collins also scored 2, Wujcik had 2 as well while Owen Hancock also scored.

Peter Russchenberg and Brady Foote each put in a pair of goals for the Pirates.

"We really wanted to win this one," said Palatine senior Mateo Gjoni, who celebrated the Pirates' Senior Night. "But today was today, and Saturday is Saturday - come Saturday we'll look back on today and know what we have to do."

Joey Henrikson, Isaiah Lewis, Oswald, Anthony Plesnicar III, Sam Russchenberg, Russel Wagner and Cormac McGrath were the other Palatine senior honorees.

"This was a special night," said McGrath. "We've been out here playing on this field for four years, and this is the last time we'll play under these lights. Win or lose, on this field you know every time you come out here people love you and support you. It's a great feeling."

  Palatine's Brady Foote, left, is pressured by Stevenson's Julio Adjunta during Monday's boy's lacrosse game in Palatine. Paul Valade/
  Stevenson's John Greenbury (10) and Palatine's Anthony Plesnicar (11) eye the loose ball on the turf during Monday's boy's lacrosse game in Palatine. Paul Valade/
  Stevenson's Owen Hancock (8) and Cole Okmin (5) celebrate a first-quarter goal against Palatine during Monday's boy's lacrosse game in Palatine. Paul Valade/
  Stevenson's Will Collins (28) prepares a shot on goal during Monday's boy's lacrosse game in Palatine. Paul Valade/
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