HOFFMAN ESTATES -- Naperville North defeated Glenbrook North for third place in the Class 3A state tournament Saturday morning at Garber Stadium on the campus of Hoffman Estates High School.
Manager Jim Konrad’s side held the halftime lead after benefitting from an own-goal just before the half hour. After the break, the spigots opened.
The Huskies doubled their advantage when Jaxson Stokes delivered in the 43rd minute.
Glenbrook North (21-5-2) kept it close when Ian Lee pulled one back at 51 minutes. The teams followed with four goals in the final 29 minutes, and when the dust settled Naperville North had a commanding 5-2 victory.
"Obviously the mood was down after our (1-0) loss last night to Lyons," said Konrad. “We came here to win a state championship, but we reminded the boys our program has never come home with a third place trophy. To do that says a lot about the character of this team.”
The Huskies now own eight state trophies, which include top prizes from their back-to-back-to-back state titles they earned from 2016-18.
"It was tough to turn around and come back here for a game before noon after that disappointing loss last night, but to see the guys come out and played the way we know they can in the second half. It was a great way to end the our season," continued Konrad.
The victory gave Konrad, now in his 20th season in charge, 366 wins.
Glenbrook North took home its first state trophy in 18 years.
"The team was obviously disappointed after losing to New Trier last night," said Spartans manager, Paul Vignocchi. “We were out of here so late and had to get ourselves back focused and ready to go very quickly.
In his first season as manager, Vignocchi led the Spartans to a fourth place state finish, and has since amassed 274 career victories for his alma mater.
Vignocchi was named IHSSCA Manager of the Year following the 2016 fall season, and has been an assistant in the Spartans womens program alongside its manager, Tony Valsamis.
"Conceding that early goal put us on our heels in the first half, but I was very proud of the way we fought back to get close at 2-1,” Vignocchi said. “The effort said a lot about everyone on this team."
"(Yes) it was really tough coming out here today after that loss to New Trier," said senior, Yianny Caparos, whose father, Yianny Sr. played on the 1983 Spartans state championship team under-then manager Mike Ratkovich.
"Dad and I have a great relationship, and we've talked about the team he was on and (this) GBN team. For me, I think it's really cool to be a part of a team that made it to the last weekend and to have the chance of winning another state title for our program, just like my dad did."
Naperville got a boost when it benefitted from the own-goal.
"Our energy really picked up after that gave us the lead. From there, we began to play some good soccer. It was great to see everyone on our roster have a chance to play in this game," added Noah Radeke, who ended his junior year with 22 goals, and 20 assists.
His offensive partner in crime, Stokes, finished the season with 29 goals and 11 helpers.
"We played well last night against Lyons but not well enough,” began Stokes. “We missed a couple of great chances, and were really not strong enough in the air against a team that won so many balls.
"There are always high expectations for our program. We came here to win another state championship, but when that chance ended last night, it was important to come out today and end our season with a win."
Naperville North (23-2-2) could have made it 2-0 if not for a nice clearing effort off the line by Spartans sophomore Jackson Lee, whose retreating mission allowed him to parry away a Stokes close-range attempt.
Moments later, Spartans keeper Gil Meyers made a brave save on Stokes, who tricked his way past a trio of challengers.
Stokes earned the Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match honor for his play.
Both managers freely brought in reserves during the first half, something both had planned in advance in order to reward their entire roster for the hard work and dedication they put into the program.
One of those players, sophomore, Andrew Hebron came this-close to adding another to the Huskies scoreline when he nearly got on the end of a lovely ball sent to the back post by Sam Hess at 36 minutes.
Hess, and his backline mates Ryan Anderson, Dillon Clark and Ryan Gaccione were solid in front of starting keeper Grant Montanari and Jack Bouska, who came on after the intermission.
"We're really good defensively as a team. Our backline has made it really tough for our opponents to score," said Hindo Allie.
"Having Sam (Hess) back as one of our central defenders has made a big difference in our backline.”
Despite both sides having stingy defensive units, the second half took on the look of an all-out attacking affair with five balls put into the back of the net. There were a handful of others that could have very well ended there as well.
Radeke beat a pair of Spartans to set himself free before playing to Stokes, who had an open net all to himself at the back post in the 43rd minute.
Ian Lee helped the Spartans draw close after teammate Michael Miller forced Bouska to make a terrific late save on his wicked blast.
Miller, just a sophomore, had 11 goals on the season.
Radeke had a glorious chance in the 58th minute, but sent his close-range effort over the bar.
"(Radeke) could have had two more today if he didn't miss those two sitters," Konrad said with a wry smile.
The all-state junior would not miss his next chance, which came after the Spartans were unable to clear the area.
Radeke spun his way free of his mark before taking control of the ball and having keeper Meyers all to himself in the 69th minute.
Hindo Allie added yet another to the scoreline with his 35-yard one-timer that senior Zeus Friman, who had just entered the match, had no chance on.
Senior Joel Ruderman drove in his header two minutes from time to give Stokes another helper on the day.
Ian Hill reached the 30-goal mark and ended the scoring when he bent in a free kick off the near post from outside the box in the 78th minute.
"It feels great to be a part of this team and to have the chance to score my first goal this season," began Ruderman.
"The job of our reserves is to be the support group of our starters, and to be ready when called upon. For me, it's been a great experience being a part of Naperville North soccer.”
"It's been a great year, and one that all of us will remember," began Glenbrook North’s Sam Lappin, who proudly wore the captain’s armband with Caparos.
"Before the season, I really do not believe any of us expected to be here this weekend. But as the season went on and we began to come together and gain more confidence, I think we all knew it was possible to put together a long run in the playoffs."
The Spartans coach returned to the top job this fall.
"I was fortunate to walk into a terrific situation set up wonderfully by Paul Gibbs," began Vignocchi. "The Central Suburban League South really helped prepare us for the postseason. This season was no different with teams like New Trier and Evanston there."
"Sam and Yianny are great leaders, who have been locked in all season long. We've battled, and played with a lot of heart, especially in the last couple of weeks of the season. Some great second half efforts helped put us through."
Vignocchi will lose plenty of quality players, including Caparos, Lappin, the terrific midfielder duo of Ian Lee and Steven Rhee, but will return close to 25 goals combined from Jackson Lee and Miller.
Naperville North will have all but Allie back from its starting 11.
"This win is the springboard to next season,” said Konrad. “The expectations are always high, but I know if the guys put in the work during the offseason, and come back next fall ready to go, we'll have the chance to get back here, and go after a state title."
Glenbrook North (4-5-1)
G- Gil Meyers
D- Yianny Caparos
D- Sam Lappin
D- Chase Petersen
D- Ben Melnick
M- Brady Spiggos
M- Steven Rhee
M- Ian Lee
M- Kieran Layland
M- Jackson Lee
F- Michael Miller
Naperville North (4-4-2)
G- Grant Montanari
D- Ryan Gaccione
D- Sam Hess
D- Ryan Anderson
D- Dillon Clark
M- Ryan Palzer
M- Jackson Clarke
M- Hindo Allie
M- Joel Ruderman
F- Jason Stokes
F- Noah Radeke
Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Jaxon Stokes, jr., F, Naperville North
Officials: Doug Curtner (referee); Hannah Shehaiber (AR1); Miguel Chavez (AR2); Bryce Cann (4th)
Naperville North: own-goal, 23'
Naperville North: Stokes (Radeke), 43'
Glenbrook North: I. Lee (unassisted), 51'
Naperville North: Radeke (unassisted), 69'
Naperville North: Allie (Stokes), 77'
Naperville North: Ruderman (Stokes), 78'
Glenbrook North: I. Lee (FK), 78'