Warriors fall to Redhawks in sectional title match
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By Curt Herron
Few coaches better understand just how difficult it is to play for a sectional championship than does Angelo DiBernardo.
After all, the veteran Waubonsie Valley mentor and his squad were staples in sectional play all throughout the 1990s.
In fact, the Warriors competed in seven sectional championship matches during an eight-year time frame from 1994-2001.
And that success came in what is arguably the toughest sectional in the state in most years, for the Naperville area.
So after not seeing his teams get to a title match since 2005, DiBernardo was obviously pleased to get there again.
But another thing that he also understands is that you can't dig yourself into a quick hole when you are in such a match.
And unfortunately for the Warriors, that's just what happened when they met up with Naperville Central on Saturday night.
The Redhawks, who lost heartbreakers in the last two state finals, obviously are very motivated to get back to state.
So it came as no real surprise when they quickly shot out of the gates in the Class 3A Metea Valley Sectional finals.
Central got a goal from Jordi Heeneman in the second minute and then another one from Ben Border in the 12th minute.
A quick 2-0 deficit is always a critical concern, but especially when it happens against a quality side in a big match.
And coach Troy Adams' team certainly is that after going 13-1-1 down the stretch to again advance to the final week.
To Waubonsie's credit, things never got any worse, although the Redhawks did their best to try to make that happen.
Keeper Jordan Ward came up with numerous big stops to prevent Central from adding to its early two-goal advantage.
However, the Redhawks defense also limited Warriors chances and the final was the same as it was a dozen minutes in.
As a result, 17-2-2 Central meets Morton in Tuesday's Lewis University Super-Sectional while the Warriors finish 10-8-2.
"Well, we got off the bus losing 1-0 and I cannot answer that question for the players," DiBernardo said. "When you fall behind 1-0 that early in the game, the other team sets the tone.
"It's very hard to recover since it's a huge psychological advantage on their part. I thought that we fought and compete, if you will, after we were down 2-0.
"And if you let that happen against as good of a team as they are, you're asking for trouble. Even though we played hard, they were better than us, no doubt."
The Warriors coach pointed to a few performances that he was impressed with during the otherwise frustrating evening.
"Jordan kept us in the game many times, especially in the second half, when he made two or three outstanding saves," DiBernardo said.
"And I thought that William Motluck played a heck of a game, from beginning to end. He was very consistent and was ready to play once he left the bus."
The Warriors graduate 11 seniors from this team, which was hoping to win the first sectional title for the program since 2001.
That group includes five three-year performers, Casey Bucz, John Chapman, Noah Griffith, Michael Miller and Benjamin Zoet.
DiBernardo was pleased that his squad finished out their season strong by putting together a 3-0 run in the postseason.
After edging West Aurora, Waubonsie beat Batavia in the regional finals and Naperville North in the sectional semifinals.
But he was disappointed that it took them awhile to play at that level after struggling around the .500 mark during the year.
"It's a tough sectional and once you get into it, anyone of the four could be a contender for the state championship," DiBernardo said. "But I don't know if we're at that level with this team this year.
"Obviously Central was better today and that's why they're going to the super-sectional. And if we go by what happened tonight, then we're not ready to make that leap."
The Warriors entered October with a 3-5-2 mark before closing out the regular season by winning four of their last six.
"I think that our players did better than expected, especially during the last month of the season," DiBernard0 said. "We host our tournament to get ready for this type of competition.
"Once we got into our tournament and then throughout the regional and the sectional, I don't know that anybody would have thought that Waubonsie would be playing for the sectional championship.
"I just wish that they'd realized what they could have accomplished earlier in the season. I think that we waited too long to turn things around a bit."