PLAINFIELD -– Like Naperville Central’s Blake Beehler, Felix Leyva and Joey LaDuca and Naperville North’s Colin Iverson and Jacob Ryu before him, Huskies junior Noah Radeke became the latest player in this territorial rivalry amongst high school soccer powerhouses to score the game-winning goal against the other to win a sectional title.
There’s no denying the dominance these two programs have in the area. This was the 13th-consecutive season where one of the pair has won a sectional. During this stretch, Naperville North holds the edge with eight titles. When the teams have gone head-to-head with a sectional title on the line, which they have now done six times since 2010, each team has three wins.
The decisive play started when Naperville North junior Jaxon Stokes was 40 yards from the Naperville Central goal with his back turned to it. The forward flicked a ball off his head about 15 yards and into the path Radeke took between seniors Patrick Bohan and Patrick Berryman 25 yards from the prized goal. Radeke dribbled ahead and fired from 16 yards, only to see goalkeeper Dylan Scott make the save seven yards in front of goal line.
But the ball bounced back into Radeke’s path, and he put the rebound just inside the near post with just 4:47 remaining for the only goal of the Plainfield North Sectional championship match.
Top-seeded Naperville North (21-1-3) held off the fifth-seeded Redhawks (10-6-7) over the final five minutes. That ended the season of the defending Class 3A state champions and moved the Huskies one step away from their first Final Four appearance since 2018.
Naperville North will meet Collinsville (15-6-1) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the East Aurora Supersectional.
According to Huskies coach Jim Konrad, the Huskies have never played the Kahoks, who will make a four-hour trek to get to Aurora. Collinsville took the Normal West Sectional, as a third seed in Sub-sectional A, with a 2-0 upset of top-seeded and previously undefeated Moline.
Naperville North and its goal-scorer persevered in the big win.
“I’m so proud of Noah,” Konrad said. “He had a hard game, because Bohan is just a load and gave him fits and fits. I told him it takes one time to get a break. Scott makes a fantastic save, and Noah finds the second ball and has the composure to tuck it in.”
With 21 goals and 18 assists in 25 games this season, Radeke seemingly always finds a way to get it done. On Saturday when his chances were limited, he remained patient, kept his composure, never lost his confidence and stayed alert. Those qualities allowed him to position himself in the best-possible way for the game-deciding moment.
“He caught Patrick (Bohan) on the wrong side one time, and all small things add up,” Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said. “Carter (Adams) had to come out (of the game). So, are we able to win it in the midfield, and it never gets to him (Radeke) in the first place? All those little things that turn (the game). At that point I thought the better of play was with us. It turns into they get a goal with it.”
One moment, one play. Often that’s what it comes down to when these two teams go head-to-head, especially when there’s much more on the line than the Best of the West tournament championship or the DuPage Valley Conference title. This is all about surviving.
“Our cover wasn’t necessarily in the right spot, and the great thing about being a forward is you only have got to be right once,” Adams said. “The backs were right at every other time of the game, and just a little off that time and a little off can mean a goal and ultimately not being able to continue playing.”
Konrad felt Naperville Central’s defense was extraordinary.
“(Against Bohan) it’s like playing against six guys. Berryman is amazing, too, and he had a great game,” Konrad said. “If (Bohan) would’ve pulled out a cape, I wouldn’t have been surprised.”
“Bohan is probably the best one-on-one defender in the state,” Troy Adams said. “And I don’t think Ryan Gervase is that far off how he plays. He did a pretty good job on Jaxon (Stokes) as well. Those are kids that are scoring 20-plus goals. While they’re dangerous and good, I thought we did a really good job of defending them. Like I said, forwards need to be right once.”
And even when they’re not right on target or when a goalkeeper denies them, there are times where the ball bounces their way and another opportunity presents itself in a flash. Radeke was certainly right there for it.
“(Bohan) is a great defender,” Radeke said. “He went hard all 80 minutes and in the last five minutes I finally slipped through and got a chance. I felt like I was motivated after losing last year and seeing all of my teammates go out hard. I wanted revenge and to just win for our program.
“Against Central it’s going to be a battle. We battled nonstop for 80 minutes. It showed the last time we played them. And it’s never the better team, it’s who works the hardest.”
Naperville Central appeared to have pulled ahead midway through the second half after senior Michael Cavalleri sent a shot toward a pack of five Huskies.
The ball bounded forward and upward off the back of Naperville North sophomore defender Sam Hess before landing in the path of Naperville Central’s Michael DeFalco, who sent it inside the far post from a few yards away in the 57thminute. Unfortunately for the Redhawks, DeFalco was ruled offside.
It was the second of two huge plays that Hess was involved in. First, he first came to the rescue of his keeper, Jack Bouska, in the 29thminute. Five yards off his line, Bouska elevated and punched at Berryman’s 47-yard free kick, but the ball deflected backward. It seemed destined for the back of the net, but Hess came flying in to make a diving kick save to keep the game scoreless.
“I like to always be there to do the things behind the scenes,” Hess said. “Without that, and without Noah and without just the team tracking back and playing defense, working hard and talking, none of this would’ve happened.”
While that sequence may not happen often, the Huskies practice it so they’re ready when it presents itself.
“We work on it in practice, always getting in behind just in case someone misses it,” Hess said. “We always think worst-case scenario, and that’s what I did. I saw the ball coming, and I just got it out.”
Having seen what Radeke has done time and time again this season, Hess wasn’t the least bit surprised to see him deliver when the Huskies needed him the most.
“He’s going to be on you all game. He’s very persistent,” Hess said. “At some point they are going to mess up or make one little mistake. Noah was just there at the time when they did it and poked it in even after the second shot hit the goalie first.”
Konrad made sure the play of two of his sophomores was recognized.
“The two guys that made the biggest difference today were Tony Flores and Andrew Hebron,” he said. “Those two guys really stepped up today. We were struggling physically against (Naperville Central), and those two guys came in and made a huge difference in terms of battling physically and getting the game back under control for us.
“You knew (Naperville Central) was going to get one on the restart or we were going to get one hopefully through Stokes or Radeke. We were lucky today it came through us.”
On the flip side, the Redhawks have to wonder what more they needed to do to take the win.
“Not much else you can ask your kids to do and not get a result,” Adams said. “In the first half I thought we absolutely played one of the best halves of the year. (But) if you don’t find a way to bury it in the back of the net you’re going to be in trouble at the end. That was really the difference. Both teams played hard, but I thought we played about as well as we could play. We just couldn’t find the back of the net.
‘’Up until (Radeke scored) we had probably twice as many chances as them,” Adams said. “But soccer is a cruel game.”
Adams coached his son Carter for the last time as a Redhawk. Last year, Konrad felt the same way as he coached his son Ryan for the final time in the sectional final loss to these same Redhawks.
“I’m glad this one is behind us,” Konrad said. “It’s always an emotional deal; Troy and I are friends. I know last year he was happy he won with his sons (Carter and Chase), and I was crushed I was done with Ryan. Now this year he’s done. Obviously, I wanted to win but my heart goes out to Troy. The last game coaching your kid, that’s a tough, tough thing.”
GK: Dylan Scott
D: Patrick Berryman
D: Michael Cavalleri
D: Patrick Berryman
D: Ryan Lafferty
MF: Michael DeFalco
MF: Carter Adams
MF: Eli Jarrell
MF: Patrick Bohan
MF: Clay Scherf
F: Luco Gallina
GK: Jack Bouska
D: Colin McMahon
D: Niko Ladas
D: Connor Hanrahan
MF: Juan Carlos Hernandez
MF: Sam Hess
MF: Hindo Allie
F: Noah Radeke
F: Josh Pedersen
F: Jaxon Stokes
F: Anthony Flores
Chicagoland Soccer Men of the Match: Noah Radeke, jr., F, Naperville North; Patrick Bohan, sr., D, Naperville Central
NN: Noah Radeke (unassisted), 75’