Naperville Central's Jordi-squared
equation too much for Marmion Academy
McCormack, Heeneman lead
Redhawks to 4-0 Senior Night win
By Dave Surico
NAPERVILLE -- A pair of players named Jordi -- Heeneman and McCormack -- made sure that Naperville Central reigned in the rain, and that its Class of 2015 went out a winner in their final regular season home game, a 4-0 victory against Marmion Academy on Tuesday.
The duo are both seniors, share a common Spanish given name, have consecutive jersey numbers (Heeneman's No. 9 and McCormack's No. 10), and exhibit exceptional soccer skills.
They figured in all of the Redhawk scoring and made a miserable night more so for the visitors. It started when Heeneman connected on a 25-yard free kick after the game clock had just ticked into its eighth minute. The restart rocket flew from the left into the upper right corner of the net for a 1-0 Redhawks lead.
Heeneman, whose Dutch father named him after the son of his favorite soccer player Johan Cruyff, set the tone of the game with Naperville Central's first two goals.
"We knew this was our last home game as seniors and we wanted to come out as strong as possible and take it to them right away," said Chicagoland Soccer's Man of the Match.
The striker liked what he saw when he lined up left of the goal for the free kick.
"The goalie was kind of lined up strangely," Heeneman said. "The wall was at the near post, and the goalie was in the middle so he left the far post pretty open. So I saw that and took my chance."
McCormack -- who was named by his mother, a native of Barcelona -- started the second scoring play and had a part in the remaining trio of goals.
The lanky senior initiated the second goal with a midfield takeaway. He advanced the ball through the middle before slotting it perfectly to Heeneman on the left, who after several touches pushed it toward the far post and past Fletcher in the 27th minute.
The night was made even more special for McCormack after he missed the previous two games because of a broken toe.
"It was like my comeback game, and I was giving it my all," he said. "I really worked hard. Our coach really emphasizes work rate; he thinks that's the most important part of the game besides defense."
Naperville Central honored their coach on both fronts with an impressive 80-minute effort.
"They did a good job today of pushing up," said coach Troy Adams. "We talk about pressure on the ball in two seconds, making sure the other team doesn't have time to make adjustments. As I watched, especially in the second half there were some times where we got the ball back in good situations because we pressured it early, and it caused a mishit.
"This was a good game to have right before the state tournament. We talked at halftime that these are the type of games that you need to finish out. You've got to make sure to get that third goal to make sure they don't come back. So it was nice to see that."
Senior Daniel Poole made the score 3-0 on a header after a great 40-yard restart boot from McCormack in the 58th minute; and McCormack finished the scoring with a goal off a Chris Schwaiger assist.
Naperville Central (11-1-6) will now turn its post-Senior Night focus to its role as a regional host and the top seed of the ultra-tough Bolingbrook Sectional.
"It's been an amazing four years," Heeneman said of his high school career. "It's sad for this to be our last (regular season) home game, but I hope we win six-or-so games after that. ... As long as we keep our heads up in the playoffs we'll be fine."
McCormack saw positive signs for the postseason in the win.
"I thought we played a lot better as a team," he said. "We possessed and we were playing on the same page. We were able to put the team away so they couldn't get the comeback goal. I think if we continue to keep our work rate high and our defense stays strong, I don't think we can be beaten."
That comes off as a strong statement, especially since Naperville Central will need to advance out of Bolingbrook's "Sectional of Death." But confidence will need to be in strong supply for the team that moves to the Elite Eight.
"You can make an argument that the Lyons Sectional top four (Morton, Hinsdale Central, Lyons and Downers Grove South), are the best top four (sectional group) in the state, but you go to our 13th, 14th seed were the deepest sectional," Adams said of the group that includes St. Charles East, Naperville North and Benet Academy. "Bolingbrook was like 11-2-2 at seeding, and they were a 12 seed. That's the depth that our sectional has.
"I'll pick a number to draw a line somewhere, but I wouldn't be shocked if one of the top nine seeds advance out of it. I think it's that wide open."
Though it might not appear so from the score, the game was also exactly what Marmion Academy wanted.
After a second-place South Division run in its inaugural season in the Chicago Catholic League, the Cadets wanted to face an elite opponent.
"This was a big prep game for us," said coach Ricky Del Toro. I think this is going to prepare us speed-wise, strength, everything we're going to see next Tuesday. We've got a whole week to prepare. We're going to watch film, look at our positives, look at the things we need to work on, and I think we'll be ready for next Tuesday (against Naperville North).
"We see this type of competition and speed at the Barrington tournament and then it slows down with the league that we play in. This is why we really wanted to get these guys on our schedule this year. And we got them just to see that speed again, so we can be ready for the playoffs. It's the same level of competition that we're going to see from now on.
"We had a lot of positives, expecially in the first half. We had chances on goal. We get those chances again, we look to capitalize on them."
Goalkeeper Matt Fletcher agrees with his coach.
"They're the No. 1 team in our sectional, and we thought this would be a great prep game," he said. "The conditions really helped us out, opposite of what you would think. We have rain, (field) turf and a good opponent so we're getting used to everything to be ready for our game next Tuesday (5 p.m. at Naperville North)."
Fletcher was under siege, especially in the second half and won more battles than he lost. His best sequence came when he made a great diving save on McCormack's shot in the 60th minute and then recovered to stop the rebound attempt.
The Cadets best chances to score came in the first half.
Facing a 1-0 deficit, the visitors almost broke into the scoring column when a long throw-in found its way to Landon Meyer about eight yards out. The senior pivoted quickly, but couldn't get enough of his foot on the slick ball and his shot rolled harmlessly to Naperville Central keeper Adam Daas.
After a Naperville Central push that led to a Nick Coon shot that hit the crossbar in the 20th minute and a goal called back due to an offsides a minute later, Marmion responded with a strong effort from Joe Duffield.
After a corner kick, the defender's header for the equalizer missed just over the crossbar in the 23rd minute.
Another prime Cadet attempt came on a Trevor Jones shot from 20 yards out, but it too went over the crossbar.
Marmion Academy's offense struggled to link up with its forwards. And even when the Cadets did connect, the strikers tried to hold the ball with their backs to the defense and were quickly swarmed by Naperville Central. Marmion's play appeared to be too frenetic and didn't allow give them a chance to find a rhythm.
Naperville Central passed on its usual goalie platoon system so senior keeper Daas could play the entire game. He provided strong leadership in back and earned a clean sheet for his efforts.
The defense in front of him didn't go unnoticed from his coach.
"Derek Kerbs does an outstanding job getting us organized," Adams said. "We've rotated between playing three and playing four, and he's been the one steady factor. Riley Guttosch is another one in the back. He's been invaluable in putting the ball on his throw-in where we want it to go, creating a lot of scoring opportunities. They both have done a very, very good job."
*The Redhawks' injured senior Mitch McGuire was recognized as an honorary starter in the game for his contributions to the program.
"The second day of summer camp he tore his ACL and his meniscus," said Adams. "He started every game as a junior. This was a chance for him to take the field one more time. He's been at all of our stuff. He's been a big part of the team, and I wanted to try to get him on that field one last time before he goes off to college."
*The trend of veteran squads for Naperville Central continued this season. Fourteen of the 23 players on the team are seniors.
"It's a senior-heavy team. We've had between 10-14 the last four years," Adams said. "Some of it is the depth of the area. Some of it is these kids have waited for their time to play varsity.
"We have the privilege of having a lot of talented players in the area. That allows me to let them learn at an appropriate level instead of being overmatched at the varsity level."
*You could say the Redhawks have been fit to be tied this season. The win against Marmion Academy stretched Naperville Central's unbeaten streak to eight games, but only four games were wins. They have six draws this season, but some of that can be explained.
"A lot of our ties have come on Saturdays. The last couple years I've looked at Saturdays as a chance to get kids playing time," Adams said. "Everybody plays. ... And we haven't caught some of the breaks in Saturday games that you would like."
Three of the team's ties in their latest streak have come on Saturdays. Overall the team is 4-0-4 on Saturdays, and which includes its Best of the West title game win over Benet Academy .
GK: Matt Fletcher
D: Brian Miller
D: Sean Dickerson
D: Joe Duffield
D: Quinn Gratz
MF: Nick Grant
MF: Tim Wheeler
MF: Trevor Jones
MF: Landon Meyer
F: Sean Miller
F: Blake Turcich
GK: Adam Daas
D: Derek Kerbs
D: Sean Flading
D: Riley Guttosch
D: Mitch McGuire
MF: Nick Coon
MF: Noah Hey
MF: Jordi McCormack
F: Jordi Heeneman
F: Daniel Poole
F: Ethan Mohr
Man of the Match: Jordi Heeneman