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Game story: Radeke rescues Naperville North from Romeoville

By Chris Walker, 10/26/23, 7:15PM CDT


Huskies rally for 3 late goals to knock off Spartans in sectional semifinal

PLAINFIELD -- Like syrup on pancakes, Romeoville was all over Naperville North junior Noah Radeke during Wednesday’s Class 3A Plainfield North Sectional semifinal.
While the Spartans were able to stick to the super-talented junior forward and keep the Huskies scoreless for the first 58 minutes, Radeke broke free with a vicious header to tie the game before delivering a pair of assists for the game-winning and insurance goals that kept Naperville North’s postseason alive.
“They were all over him,” Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. “They had a guy (Josh Silvar) on him all game, so it was hard to get free. As the game went on, we shifted some things. Noah kept fighting. He got loose a couple times and good things happened.”
Good things like Radeke’s powerful header off of a Josh Pedersen corner kick with 22:34 left in the game to draw the Huskies even with the Spartans at 1-1.
“I haven’t scored a header since one of the first games of the season but have been winning the balls all year,” Radeke said. “I saw the ball played into Sam (Hess) right before that.”

After the ensuing corner, Pedersen’s serve allowed Radeke to turn the tide.

“(The ball) went to the same place, went right to that same spot,” he said. 
As you’d expect, the top-seeded Huskies (20-1-3) haven’t had to play from behind often this season, especially when they’re unbeaten in 23-straight games. But Romeoville made Naperville North chase midway through the opening half after the precise delivery and execution by Manny Casillas on a 25-yard free kick.
The goal was nothing new for Casillas.
“He had one very similar against Neuqua Valley,” Romeoville head coach Nick Cirrincione said. “We had a game where he scored a free kick, and then he was off for a little while and couldn’t make a good connection on the ball. That was the same spot, same location and gave us a chance.”
It was so far, so good for the Spartans (17-6-3).
“Our goal coming in here was that we’d be fine as long as (Jaxon) Stokes and Radeke didn’t score or assist,” Cirrincione said. “We held them off for 58 minutes, and then they got going. We knew they would be dangerous. We tried to match it, but they got the better of us the last 20 (minutes).”
On the flip side, the fourth-seeded Spartans were in control in the early going, agitating the Huskies, ranked no. 2 in the final regular-season Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, before Casillas delivered the first blow.
“I’m just glad it worked out for us,” Konrad said. “In the first half they had us on the ropes for sure. The first 30 minutes they did a great job of pressuring the ball and were flying all over the field. (It was) a great free kick. You couldn’t have walked up there and put it with your hand any better.

“I’m proud of the boys. We just stay the course. We shifted things a little bit, and the boys made a little bit better decisions with the ball. Luckily, we fought our way through. It was a great game.”
And an unforgettable one for sophomore Tony Flores who scored his first game-winner. Radeke eluded pressure to send the ball into the box to Flores with 14:44 remaining and the game tied.
“I knew Noah had two defenders on him, and I was just in the right time, in the right place,” he said. “He just played me the ball, and I scored. It was an amazing feeling. I was wide open.”
Though "wide open," as he saw it, Flores still needed to execute and beat Romeoville’s senior goalkeeper Alex Duda, who had already made some crucial plays to keep the game tied up until that moment.
“The ball was slippery,” Flores said. “I was going to hit it on my left but really didn’t have enough time. So I just hit with my right foot. It was a really good feeling, game-winner.”
While Flores (six goals) hasn’t put up the digits of Radeke (20 goals, 18 assists) or Stokes (27 goals, eight assists), he’s been an integral part of the team’s success. 
“He’s played a ton this year. You can see we kept him in the game down the stretch, because he’s so good in the air too,” Konrad said. “He did a great job of winning balls and battling. He hits a heavy ball. 

"Tony is a kid that plays hard. All year we’ve moved him around. He’s played up-top and the middle some. Today he played in both places. Obviously he’s a technical kid, so when the ball falls to his feet he’s done a pretty good job of picking the corner and finding it.”
Radeke certainly appreciates having another talent on his side.
“He came on to this team as a young guy, and we knew he could be something special,” he said. “He’s shown that this season. Obviously he is providing a lot of goals and stuff, and assists, and just been dominating in the middle this season.”
Radeke spanked a shot attempt off the crossbar in the 67th minute that narrowly missed providing insurance. Next he unselfishly tapped a pass to Stokes with 6:50 remaining to all but seal the victory for the Huskies.
Before that, Romeoville was on the attack for the equalizer. Gavin Carrasco was able to send in a shot, but Huskies goalkeeper Jack Bouska was in position to deny it. Just 54 seconds later, Radeke and Stokes found the net unoccupied, and Radeke graciously gifted the ball to his teammate to finish off the Spartans.
It certainly was quite the day for Radeke, who was named the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match.
“It’s a world-class goal for the first one,” Konrad said. “And then he fights and finds Tony (Flores), so Tony scored. Then unselfishly, he probably could’ve scored the third one, instead he dishes to Stokes.”
After the Huskies were stuck behind 1-0 for 38 minutes, they stuck with it to score three times in the final 23 minutes. While Silvar was man-marking Radeke, Casillas was doing the same with Stokes. Isaiah Pina was also keeping a constant eye on the two prolific scorers. It was quite the task for all parties involved, and not just physically. There were emotional and social factors as well -- Casillas and Silvar are club teammates with Stokes and Radeke. 
“I realized that both me and Jaxon were being double-teamed and then a line behind us,” Radeke said. “So, I realized I should’ve stepped higher so I’d be on the backline. That just freed up space for everyone else.”
After the black rubber pellets have settled, everyone might be left looking up at Naperville North after the first weekend of November if you ask Cirrincione. He was impressed with this year’s edition of the Huskies well before he had the unenviable task of coaching against them.
“Naperville North has the best firepower in the state,” he said. “I saw them against Marmion (in a 3-1 nonconference win Sept. 9. They have two to five kids that can go at you. They were very dangerous. 

"I think we can hang with anyone on any given day, but you have to score. We had some chances to score a second one toward the end of the first half on long throws. Maybe a nick in the right direction (would’ve changed things), but we just couldn’t find that second one.”
It’s been a heck of a run for the Spartans who may be stinging now but have been the one stinging teams over the past three seasons, including taking second in the state last year. They’ve won three-straight regionals.
“This is a good group that had big goals of going far, so it was tough to lose,” Cirrincione said. “I told them sophomore year that they were going to compete at a high level these next two years. (They went 64-13-7) over that three-year stretch.”
And they’ll be recognized as long as the school stands.
“I told the guys if you win conference or regional, your picture, every single one of you, will be up on the wall,” he said. “That’s for life. You can walk around and see that picture.”
Next up for Naperville North is their old nemesis, and the team that beat the Spartans 1-0 last November to win the state title -- Naperville Central (11-5-7). The no. 23-ranked Redhawks knocked off the Huskies last year in the sectional final 3-2 on Joey LoDuca’s go-ahead goal. The year before that and the Huskies won by the same 3-2 score on a Jacob Ryu header.
Finish up your plate of pancakes, waffles or whatever you enjoy for breakfast and check out the next installment in the Naperville North versus Naperville Central rivalry on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
The teams tied 1-1 on Sept. 19 and went on to share the DuPage Valley Conference crown. The Huskies overwhelmed the Redhawks 5-0 in the Best of the West tournament Sept. 2.

The victorious Naperville side won’t be able to stick to any spooky Halloween plans. That team will advance to contest the East Aurora Supersectional on Oct. 31 at 4:30 p.m. to who earns the right a berth in the Final Four that weekend.

Either Collinsville or Moline will fill the role of supersectional contender. They meet in the Normal West Sectional final at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Starting lineups

GK: Alex Duda
FP: Manny Casillas
FP: Josh Silvar
FP: Juan Jimenez
FP: Julian Arreguin
FP: Kameron Mcshaw
FP: Ruben Mesta
FP: Isaiah Pina
FP: Lio Renteria
FP: Danny Espinoza
FP: Gavin Carrasco
Naperville North
GK: Jack Bouska 
D: Colin McMahon
D: Niko Ladas
D: Connor Hanrahan
MF: Sam Hess
MF: Hindo Allie
MF: Juan Carlos Hernandez
F: Noah Radeke
F: Josh Pedersen
F: Jaxon Stokes
F: Tony Flores
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Noah Radeke, jr., F, Naperville North

Scoring summary
First half
R: Manny Casillas (free kick), 19’
Second half
NN: Noah Radeke (Josh Pedersen), 57’
NN: Tony Flores (Radeke), 65’
NN: Jaxon Stokes (Radeke), 73’