Boys Soccer: Naperville North upsets Naperville Central
Updated: October 2, 2012 10:14PM
Naperville North senior forward Connor Sharples is an often overlooked player on a team that hasn’t even been the best soccer squad in Naperville this fall.
Sharples blasted home the game-winning goal with 5:24 remaining in overtime to give the Huskies a 2-1 upset victory over host Naperville Central Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium, knocking the Redhawks from the ranks of the unbeaten and tying up the DuPage Valley Conference race with two matches left.
“Connor is the dark horse of our team, is what we like to say,” Naperville North midfielder Joe Sullivan said. “Nobody really understands that he’s got a lot of talent and I think that plays to his advantage because, as you see, he comes up huge with a strike against our crosstown rival.
“He sneaks up on kids. That’s what’s great about Connor.”
Sharples was about 40 yards from the Naperville Central goal when he received the ball from teammate Madisen Gonzalez and headed upfield into space. He launched a 32-yard rocket that went off the fingertips of Redhawks goalie Mike Pavliga and just inside the left post.
“I didn’t think I had that much space,” Sharples said. “I was actually worried that the [defender] was getting close, so I just stepped to the ball real hard and just nailed it. I hit it pretty hard and didn’t know what happened. Opened my eyes…and it was surreal.”
The victory moved the Huskies (11-3, 4-1) into a first-place tie in the DVC standings with Naperville Central (14-1, 4-1), which beat the Huskies in the sectional finals last year. Both sides have two games remaining and the Huskies are trying to win at least a share of their fifth straight league championship.
“We pride ourselves on trying to win the DVC every year,” Sullivan said. “We’ve won it the last four and this puts us in a good position, that if we win tomorrow [at West Chicago] we’ll at least have a share of the title. That’s huge for our team and we’re just going to build on that for the rest of the year and the playoffs.”
Sullivan gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead with 27:22 left in the first half when he took a pass from Sharples and ripped a 15-yard left-footed shot past Pavliga. But the Redhawks answered at the 6:54 mark when Jay Tegge drilled a 25-yard shot through traffic and past a screened Naperville North goalie Jack Seifert. Tegge got the ball after Pat Flynn’s 24-yard free kick was blocked.
The Redhawks actually dominated much of the action after that and outshot the visitors 21-8, but Seifert made eight saves and the Huskies’ back line led by Neil Wiaranowski and Geoff Horn held them off. Flynn, Naperville Central’s all-time leading scorer, had Central’s only scoring chance in the overtime, heading a cross from Sam Reskala over the crossbar three minutes before Sharples scored.
“This game was a testament to see how good we could be and we knew we had it in us,” Sharples said. “We came out and here and showed ourselves mostly that we can compete. It’s kind of nice to give Central, our crosstown rivals, their first blemish in their record, at their home feel. So it feels really good.”