A pair of garbage goals was the extent of Naperville Central’s offense on Saturday.
But they smelled like roses to the Redhawks, who dominated much of the action in beating West Aurora 2-0 to win the Class 3A Naperville Central Regional championship at Memorial Stadium.
“We played well,” Naperville Central coach Troy Adams said. “We scored two goals and we’re playing again on Tuesday and ultimately that’s what you want at this time of the year.
“Does it matter that we didn’t put away every chance that we had? No, because at the end of the game we had more goals than they did.”
For all the great chances the Redhawks created, it was a pair of West Aurora mistakes that made the difference.
Daniel Poole took advantage of a turnover inside the six-yard box to score an easy goal with 34:49 left in the first half and fellow senior Nick Coon was credited with his second goal of the year when his cross from the left end line was booted into the goal by a defender at the 32:08 mark of the second half.
The own goal was a devastating blow for the Blackhawks (11-9-1), who were attempting to win just their second regional title.
Up until that point, West Aurora’s defense was hanging in against the top-seeded Redhawks (13-1-6), who held an 8-0 edge in shots in the first half.
“I’ll take the goal,” Coon said. “I’ve been injured this year so I haven’t really been able to showcase or be with the team on the field. But it was nice to get the second goal because I kind of feel like how I did at the beginning of the season.”
Coon’s role has changed since the beginning of the season, when he played more of a defensive role.
“Nick was injured a lot during the year and he’s been playing a role that we need,” Adams said. “This is only his third game in an attacking role.
“I think that meant a lot for him to be able to complete a goal. He feels like he’s been kind of snake-bitten.”
The usually high-scoring Redhawks were snake-bitten for the most part, barely missing connections in front and seeing West Aurora goalkeeper Robert Marquez make six saves.
“We had a lot of chances this whole game,” Coon said. “I can’t believe we didn’t score on a lot of those chances. It was kind of nice to get that second goal. It gave us a little bit of a cushion and it kind of led us towards the victory.”
The victory advanced the Redhawks to a much-anticipated match-up with crosstown rival Naperville North in Tuesday’s Bolingbrook Sectional semifinals. Fourth-seeded Naperville North handed Naperville Central its only loss this fall.
“All season we’ve been waiting for that game,” Coon said. “I think that was our worst game of the season. They scored in the first 30 seconds and I can’t wait until we play them again. We’re all really excited.”
But the Redhawks know they will need to finish better in order to beat the Huskies.
“Obviously we want to finish a little better than we did today and that we close out a game a little stronger,” Adams said. “Those last five minutes were a little more tense than I would like them to be. Maybe some [goals] got saved for Tuesday.”
There will be no tomorrow, though, for West Aurora.
“If there’s anything that’s bad about today it’s that you’re seeing a lot of seniors ending their high school career,” West Aurora coach Joe Sustersic said. “This is a good group of seniors that we had this year.
“The effort was there … but you create your own luck and credit should go to Naperville Central for what they did.”