Simon Shatinsky had this date circled on his calendar – and it showed.
The Neuqua Valley junior scored seven goals and the Wildcats, twice upset by York last year including sectionals, avenged that hurt with an emphatic 14-6 win on Monday in Naperville.
“They upset us twice and that was always on our mind this whole week,” Shatinsky said. “Everybody was frustrated about those losses. We weren’t going to let up. This one’s been on my calendar for months.”
Shatinsky’s goal-scoring capabilities were on full display in a five-goal third quarter.
He started the quarter’s scoring with a breakaway goal for a 6-2 Neuqua lead. York scored twice to creep closer, but Joey Delesandro found Shatinsky in close for a goal to stem the tide.
Shatinsky then found the back of the net three times over the last 86 seconds of the quarter. He skipped in a shot off the water, and rifled a goal in the right corner of the net for a 10-4 lead going into the final quarter. It was part of an 8-0 Wildcats run that all but ended it.
“That’s the best game he’s had in a while,” Neuqua coach Adam Hoffer said. “Not that he’s played bad, but he obviously had a fire in his belly today and really showed it. He was unstoppable on both sides of the ball.”
Shatinsky’s shot-making was indeed rivaled by a Neuqua (10-10) defense that made the going tough for York at the other end.
Matt Rodriguez scored for the Dukes (9-12) three minutes into the game, but it was their only lead. Neuqua’s defenders did well in identifying York’s top shooters and were physical with them throughout.
“We were running one of our signature drops, trying to find the weaker shooter and then drop on their stronger shooters almost as a double team,” Shatinsky said. “That really helped us having weaker shooters from the outside shooting. We weren’t going to allow them to get good shots.”
“They outhustled us, and they had a strong press,” York coach Brian Drumm said. “We were unable to advance our offense to where we wanted to go. We had to work for the whole half of the field. They were getting in the lanes very well and were very physical.”
Delesandro scored two goals for Neuqua. He got behind the York defense and flipped a feathery shot over the Dukes goalie to give Neuqua the lead for good, 2-1 with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
Lucas Becker also scored two goals for the Wildcats. Rodriguez and Joe Kesslering both scored two goals for York.
“I think the best thing about tonight was our team defense. Our team defense was clicking and that led to us playing smarter offense,” Hoffer said. “This was a game we weren’t going to lose.”