Boys lacrosse: Neuqua Valley handles South Elgin for sectional crown
Neuqua Valley faced a big challenge Friday in the Geneva sectional title game -- how to stop high-scoring South Elgin.
Going into the contest, the Storm averaged 16 goals per game. They had been held to single digits only once, in their only regular season loss.
Aggressive play from the opening faceoff and effective ball control by Neuqua Valley stifled South Elgin's offense and earned the Wildcats a 14-3 win and the sectional crown.
Neuqua Valley (16-3) advances to Tuesday's Hoffman Estates Supersectional where it will battle Barrington for a state berth.
"South Elgin is a great offensive team. They have a lot of high powered guys and they excel in transition, so the game plan was to shut down their transition," said Neuqua Valley coach Josh Maluta. "It started with our faceoffs. Eddied McDonald won almost all of the possessions for us which was crucial and then we used the strategy of getting longer possessions to wear out their defenders."
"Honestly it's breath taking. A crushing defeat like this one after the season we had and the games that we played and the type of scores that we have seen, it's just something we are not use to," South Elgin assistant coach Austin King said.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter.
"They are not like any team we have seen before. They came out very aggressive -- something we aren't use to," said South Elgin's Pat Noworol. "They are a good team, hands down. We just couldn't do anything to stop them."
South Elgin, a co-op team with players from South Elgin, Elgin and Larkin, finally got on the board in the second period on goals by Lucas Baer and Jack Baer.
Neuqua Valley held an 8-2 advantage at halftime.
"We were a little lackadaisical on defense at the start -- not watching where we are supposed to be watching and just got caught," King said. "A slow start and they just kept rolling with it."
Play in the third quarter typified Neuqua Valley's strategy. The Wildcats controlled the game for the first seven and a half minutes of the period. Neuqua Valley won the opening faceoff and went up 9-2 at the 10:46 mark of the period on Caiden Perry's fourth goal of the game.
The Wildcats retained control of the ball after the score and extended its lead halfway through the period on a goal by Dan Curtis, his fourth of evening. Neuqua Valley won the ensuing faceoff and after working another three minutes off the clock, stuck again on a shot by Matt Quinn.
South Elgin (18-2) finally got control of the ball but could not convert. Two shots on goal were stopped and a third one went wide left. With 1:30 left in the quarter, Curtis tallied his fifth goal putting Neuqua Valley up 12-2 to start the fourth quarter.
"We really kept the ball out their hands which is their strength and that really helped us excel and put more goals in the net," Maluta said. "We also have a deeper bench than them and I think it showed with the humidity out here. We were able to keep guys fresher and they got tired as the game went on."
"This entire week we have been game planning, looking at their strengths and how we could exploit them," said Curtis. "We got out early and stayed hot."
Neuqua Valley added two more goals in the fourth quarter on strikes by Ben Foy and Quinn. Cade Newton scored for South Elgin.