North tips Neuqua 1-0 in sectional shockerHunter Drendel (left) of Naperville North heads the ball into the net for the game's only goal as Gianna Dal Pozzo of Neuqua Valley tries to stop her from behind. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 27, 2011 11:32PM
Naperville North apparently didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to be a mere speed bump on Neuqua Valley’s road to a state title.
Neuqua, the No. 1-ranked team in the state since the preseason, netted 105 goals during the season. However they couldn’t find the back of the net when it mattered the most and the Wildcats were stunned by North 1-0 in the Waubonsie Valley Sectional final Friday.
The Huskies (16-5-1) scored the game-winning goal in wild fashion with 8:10 remaining in the opening half off a corner kick.
Cory Climo put in a perfect free kick just inside the six-yard box that Hunter Drendel headed toward the back post. The ball beat the Neuqua goalkeeper but looked like it was cleared on the goal line by the Wildcat defender guarding the post. Just after the clearance the assistant referee raised his flag and a five-second conference between him and the referee ensued. It was decided that the ball crossed the line fully just before the defender got to the ball, making it a goal for the Huskies.
“I thought they were calling someone for pushing. I never thought they were talking about a goal. We all knew that they (the referees) could be talking about anything on the play and we are happy that it got called a goal,” Drendel said. “On paper we were nothing and by beating them (Neuqua) it says a lot. We were underestimated a lot this year but we won this by having more heart.”
It turned out to be a long second half for the Huskies as they were outshot 13-4 in the final period yet, no Wildcat could crack the senior-filled defense line of North.
“They constantly put us under pressure and we were able to stay organized and keep our composure. Our backline and senior leadership really kept us focused,” North coach Brent Terada said. “I’m not saying we are the better team. I’m saying maybe today we are the better team. We play them 10 times they probably beat us eight. We were good enough today and that is all that really matters.”
Neuqua (24-1) had their best flurry of chances with just over 18 minutes remaining as Allie McBride’s shot from 14 yards away hit the post. Alexa Wilde corralled the rebound from six yards away and tried to tip it in but North goalie Abby Greene made a diving save.
Just before Greene was about to punt the ball into play, she was called for holding the ball too long resulting in a free kick from 16 yards away. Off a short pass by Zoey Goralski, Megan Oyster blasted a shot that hit the cross bar and was then promptly cleared by the Huskie defense.
“You can’t play 40 minutes of soccer and expect to win. We were very flat in the first half and really picked it up in the second half,” Wildcats coach Joe Moreau said. “Obviously we had a lot of quality chances but in the second half we just couldn’t finish. That’s how the game is sometimes. It is a little cruel. Hats off to North; they played very well and they are a sound defensive team.”
The victory was the Huskies’ third straight 1-0 decision of the playoffs and they will now take on York in the Lisle Supersectional game at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Benedictine University field.