St. Charles E. storms back, but lightning gives win to Wheaton Academy

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St. Charles East was in the process of trying to erase an early three-goal deficit when the Saints and Wheaton Academy had to leave the field due to streaks of lightning in the distance.

After the requisite 30-minute delay spent inside, the two teams were warming up to resume play for the final 13:41 when the weather alarm sounded and officials declared the game complete as a 3-2 win for Wheaton.

The road victory for the No. 6-ranked Warriors (14-1) comes six outings after current No. 1 Morton ended their 9-0 start. For No. 2 St. Charles East (12-2-1), it’s the second disheartening one-goal loss at home — six games after a 1-0 loss to Batavia.

“We played really well and then weathered the storm so to speak,” Wheaton Academy coach Jeff Brooks said. “East has a ton of talent and they were bringing the attack in the second half. Both teams would rather have played the whole game, but everyone’s safety is involved.”

While St. Charles East coach Paul Jennison echoed that safety is paramount, it was a difficult night having momentum stopped just after Wheaton Academy standout Ty Seager was sent off via a second yellow card. That meant the Warriors would have had to finish the game short-handed.

“It was a tale of two halves and I’m very proud of how we were dominating the second half, but you can’t give a team like Wheaton Academy a 3-0 lead,” Jennison said. “Wheaton was the best team for the first 20 minutes, after that we took control. The tough lesson is to play until you hear a whistle. They’re clearly the best team we’ve played.”

The Saints’ bench was convinced the Warriors’ initial goal was a result of a ball not being ruled out of bounds. The give-and-go off that breakaway led to Seager setting up teammate Reid Culbertson just 3:33 into the game for a nine-yarder from the left side.

“We’ve played together for three years now, so it’s more a matter of chemistry,” Culbertson said of his fourth goal for the year.

The Saints’ bench roared more disapproval when the Warriors were awarded a penalty kick at 12:27, but the attempt sailed high. However, just over five minutes elapsed when Lucas Hoepner’s clear sprung Seager for another breakaway. The Warriors’ scoring leader got enough off a touch toward the far-right post, and it caromed off and in.

There was 12:35 left before halftime when Jacob Kapitaniuk had a textbook cross for Seager to knock home to up his season total to 23.

“The long ball was the key to the first one and seeing their keeper coming out I just chipped it for the far post,” Seager said. “The second one was an excellent cross and I just had to connect with the ball. It’s a huge win for us, especially against one of the top teams in the state.”

St. Charles East narrowed the gap 10:01 prior to the halftime horn when Jordan Moore set up Jared Brown for a laser shot from the right side. With 18:27 remaining, the Saints pulled to within a goal on another Moore assist on a Tyler Robbins’ 12-yard left-footed rocket.

“Their goalie had jjust blocked one and Jordan got it to me and right before the try I saw enough space in the corner and went for it,” Robbins said after netting his sixth goal.

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