Pat Flynn’s efforts enough for Naperville CentralCameron Callipari (top) of Batavia and Greg Burdett of Naperville Central go up for a header Wednesday at Naperville North. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 26, 2011 9:14PM
Batavia was eight minutes away from advancing to its first sectional final since 1995 until Pat Flynn came to the rescue for Naperville Central.
Flynn scored two goals in the final 7:43, the last coming with 57 seconds left in regulation, as the Redhawks pulled out a 3-2 victory Wednesday night in a Class 3A Naperville North Sectional semifinal that had been suspended by lightning the night before.
Third-seeded Naperville Central (16-4) will take on top-ranked Naperville North (21-0-1) in Saturday’s 5 p.m. sectional title game. The Huskies beat the Redhawks 2-0 Oct. 4 on the same field.
“The first half we didn’t play good,” Flynn said. “We weren’t strong and we didn’t have much energy and the second half we turned it around. We started playing with some heart.
“We started realizing this could be our last 40 minutes of soccer for the season. It was just a matter of time before the ball got in the back of the net and we were lucky enough that it happened two times in the last eight minutes.”
With his team trailing 2-1, Flynn tied the game with 7:43 left when his 27-yard free kick went over the head and through the hands of Batavia goalie Ben Steskal, who had been solid up to that point with six saves.
The game-winner, Flynn’s 14th goal of the year, started with Blake Beehler’s long flip throw from the left side. His high-arcing toss found the head of teammate Jack Patrick, who nodded it to Flynn just beyond the right post. Flynn tucked a six-yard rocket from a severe angle inside the left post.
“Beehler has been making good flip throws and making plays dangerous for us all season,” Flynn said. “It was a good win and flick by Jack Patrick. I was on the back six, so I hit it back across the middle and if it didn’t go in I was hoping it would deflect off someone and just end up in the back of the net. If I hit it hard enough right in the middle something good has got to happen.”
The old-fashioned muscle play worked better than Flynn’s bicycle kick that hit the post in the first half, the irony of which was not lost on Naperville Central coach Troy Adams.
“I had just yelled at him I think on one over [on the left side],” Adams said. “I said, ‘Pat, get on the six and the ball will find you there.’ Luckily, I guess kids can focus for more than two minutes at a time, because he was able to remember and do it on the other side. Sometimes you wonder about that.
“You can ask any of the players how many times I have said, ‘If you sit on the back six you’re guaranteed a half-dozen goals a game.’ But it’s the same thing. They all want that brilliant goal. Hey Pat, you scored on that one. Your bicycle kick didn’t score. Which one do you want?”
No. 2 seed Batavia (15-6-3) thought it had all it wanted after taking a 2-1 halftime lead. Patrick had scored off a pass from Flynn to give the Redhawks the early edge just nine seconds before lightning halted play Tuesday at the 15:42 mark of the opening half.
But the Bulldogs came out on fire when play resumed, tying the game just 1:19 in when Nick Barstatis knocked in a corner kick from Eduardo Cuautle. Cuautle then scored seven minutes later, bending an 18-yard shot off the inside of the left post.
“That’s the way [the Bulldogs] have jumped on teams all year, so we were ready to run out there and I like the way they responded the first half,” Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco said. “I wish it would have been different the second half, but we never really got that same flow that we had the first 15 minutes.
“I think they just stepped it up and energized themselves and we didn’t match the intensity to a certain degree and the sense of urgency that we needed to have. Give them credit. They finished those opportunities.”