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Game story: North leaves no Naperville doubt vs. Central

By Matt LeCren, 09/03/23, 2:45PM CDT


Huskies extend Best of the West mastery with rare rout of Redhawks

NAPERVILLE – Naperville North has its nine-peat.

The Huskies continued their dominance at the Best of the West Tournament by cruising past host Naperville Central 5-0 in the championship game Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

Junior Noah Radeke recorded his first career hat-trick, and Niko Ladas and Jaxon Stokes also found the back of the net for the Huskies (4-1-0), who continued their record tournament run.

“The boys played great,” Naperville North coach Jim Konrad said. “Obviously, the ball bounced our way a few times, and they had three or four chances where they could have scored.

“Next time we play them I’m sure it’s going to be a super-tight game. Things went our way tonight.”

A Huskies’ victory was not unexpected, but the margin of victory was. North’s games with Central usually go down to the wire, and Naperville Central coach Troy Adams thinks it was the first time a crosstown battle was decided by five goals since around 2006.

While the Redhawks (3-2-1) did get the ball in North’s penalty area plenty of times and were outshot only 11-8, the result was fair, and disappointing, to Adams.

“As I told (my players), let’s not sugarcoat it -- we absolutely got hammered,” Adams said. “Naperville North played hard; they played physical; they got after it.

“You hate to use the phrase ‘They wanted it more than we did,’ but they did. It looked like it.”

That was apparent early as the Huskies converted three times in a four-shot sequence of the first half.

“They had a lot of guys that were playing a lot harder than our guys were, and I told them that was the disappointing thing,” Adams said. “I hate losing. but I can live with it if we get after it. We didn’t get after it.”

Naperville North has gotten after teams a lot lately. They’ve now scored 16 goals in their last three games, with 10 of them coming Saturday in back-to-back Best of the West five-goal outbursts against Benet and their hometown rival.

Stokes recorded his first hat-trick and four-goal game against Benet. With Naperville Central’s Ryan Gervase doing an admirable job of marking the junior, it was Radeke’s turn to go off and notch his team’s second hat-trick of the day.

“As we’ve gotten used to each other, and we have a lot of underclassmen, we’ve been progressively getting better with each game,” Radeke said. “Obviously, we scored five goals against Benet and five against Central, and our defense has done an excellent job as well.”

Radeke now has seven goals in five games this season, and Stokes has six. That’s more than many squads have as a team, but Radeke isn’t shocked with the production.

“Honestly, I kind of had it in mind,” Radeke said. “I know how good of a player Jaxon is, and our connection is smart as well.”

The brightest link the Huskies made against Naperville Central, and there were many, came on the opening goal when Ladas met a corner kick from Colin McMahon and headed it past Naperville Central goalkeeper Connor Waite.

McMahon’s serve came from the right side as Ladas ran toward him. Ladas somehow nodded the ball back across the crease on the fly and inside the left post at the 31:26 mark.

“It was a beautiful header,” Konrad said. “He timed it perfect, and that’s tough to stop.”

True, but Adams said Ladas should not have had the chance in the first place.

“We talked about discipline, then we leave a guy wide open on the first goal,” Adams said. “Do your job, and we didn’t do that today.”

But Naperville North did. Hess helped to control the midfield, while Radeke, Stokes and Hindo Allie created all sorts of havoc in the final third.

Radeke tallied the next three goals. The first came on a rocket from 17 yards after Stokes had driven into the left side of the box and tapped it back to Radeke just 2:19 after Ladas scored.

His second came on another big rip from the top of the box that went under the crossbar for a 3-0 lead with 11:08 left in the first half. That ended any remaining suspense the match had.

“I think Noah does a great job of getting the ball in the air from the center backs and controlling it and driving it through to the wingers and then getting the ball back to finish,” Hess said. “I think offensively we took our chances, and we took advantage of those chances.

“I think defensively we can definitely work on a lot of things. I think if we get our act together on defense, we’ll be a pretty hard team to beat.”

It’s tough to beat any team when it is scoring five goals a game. Radeke completed his hat-trick when he intercepted a misplayed ball and scored on a breakaway with 25:04 to go in the second half. Stokes completed the scoring eight minutes later.

“Obviously, Noah was a load tonight,” Konrad said. “Jaxon took over this morning, and Noah had a great game tonight.

“I’m thrilled with the win, but there’s still a lot that we weren’t good at tonight.”

His team shared that sentiment.

“I think (the tournament title) is a good step,” Hess said. “It was one of our goals this year, but I think there’s a lot to work on.

“To move forward to possibly win state, I think we have a lot to work on.”

And they aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

“It shows us that we can succeed, and we’re a good team. We can hopefully make it far at state,” Radeke said. “We’ve got to stay humble and just keep getting better.”

Naperville Central knows it has to get better.

“It’s a loss, and it hurts. And it should hurt,” Adams said. “But it’s only a real loss if we don’t learn from it.

“If we come back and try to play the same game again with the same intensity, then it’s a loss. We did not deserve to win, and they did.”



Starting lineups


Naperville North

GK: Jack Bouska

D: Connor Hanrahan

D: Ryne Gaccione

D: Colin McMahon

D: Andrew Hebron

M: Niko Ladas

M: Sam Hess

M: Hindo Allie

M: Noah Radeke

F: Josh Pederson

F: Jaxon Stokes


Naperville Central

GK: Cooper Waite

D: Patrick Berryman

D: Ryan Lafferty

D: Jackson Tritt

D: Ryan Gervase

D: Michael Cavalleri

M: Carter Adams

M: Patrick Bohan

M: Elliott Krause

M: Clay Scherf

F: Eli Jarrell


Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Noah Radeke, jr., M, Naperville North.



Scoring summary


First half
Naperville North: Niko Ladas (Colin McMahon), 9’
Naperville North: Noah Radeke (Jaxon Stokes), 11’
Naperville North: Radeke (unassisted), 31’

Second half
Naperville North: Radeke (unassisted), 55’
Naperville North: Stokes (unassisted), 66’