Naperville Central has visions of getting back to where it has been traditionally — a perennial participant in the state tournament.
“For a long time, it was a birthright for Naperville Central to make it to state,” Central player Connor Lamb said. “We definitely want to shut down anyone who is trying to get to our level, and we want to get back to where we were in the past.”
The first step in that journey is taking care of business at the Metea Valley Sectional quarterfinals, and the Redhawks did just that. They rolled to an 11-0 lead against the host Mustangs and never looked back, cruising to a 16-5 win.
Central will face York, which beat St. Charles North 10-9 in a double-overtime thriller Wednesday, in Friday’s semifinals.
“Just come out strong, come out fast, the old smash mouth football type of analogy,” Central coach Bill Salentine said. “We wanted to come out strong and take care of business and get some of our second-line guys in.”
Lamb scored four goals in the opening 11-0 run for Central (23-6). Teammates Joe Bigenwald and Kyle Jackson each scored three times in the run.
“Before the game we talked, we didn’t want to underestimate anyone, but we wanted to come out, score a bunch of goals and take the wind out of their sails,” Lamb said.
Metea (8-22) finally got on the board on a goal from one of the team’s four seniors, Michael Roake, late in the second quarter. Against Central’s second unit in the second half, the Mustangs scored four goals, two coming from one of the team’s nine sophomores, Keegan Reilly.
“We graduate four seniors, but the majority of our team is sophomores,” Metea coach Andrew Peterman said. “There is a lot of talent there. We just need them to gel as a team. We haven’t had that success the last few years. We want to keep building the program. They have a lot to offer. Things are starting to come together.”
Central has one more hurdle to clear before a potential showdown with its rival, and the state’s top-ranked team, Naperville North.
“North is the goal, but we have to take it one game at a time,” Lamb said. “I feel like in any tournament, you have to take it one game at a time. It was nice to get the first win.”