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Coach: Troy Adams
Assistant coach: Mike Ortiz
Joe Kallikaden So., GK
Mike Senese Sr., D
Jay Tegge* Sr., M
Devon Amoo-Mensah* Sr., M
Niko Jano Sr,. M
Sam Reskala Sr., F
Drake Swope* Sr., M
Jordi Heeneman Jr., F
Ben Border Sr., M
Mitch McGuire Jr., D
Sean Flading Jr., D
David Murphy Sr., F
Kenyata Coakley Sr., M
Justin Geisler Sr., D
Brad Holland Sr., M
Daniel Poole Jr., F
Noah Hey Jr., F
Jordi McCormack Jr., M
Derek Kerbs Jr., D
Nick Coon Jr., D
Ethan Mohr Jr., F
Jake Stadelman Sr., D
* denotes captain

Redhawks earn third straight semifinal appearance


By Matt Le Cren

Given all the hard work he had done throughout the match, Devon Amoo-Mensah deserved to score a goal in Tuesday’s Class 3A Lewis University Super-Sectional against Morton.

The official scorer credited him with one when it appeared that he headed home Jay Tegge’s swerving corner kick with 17:15 left in the second half.

In reality, the ball never touched Amoo-Mensah’s head, though the senior midfielder was right there if the perfectly-placed serve needed a nod.

“To be honest, I didn’t even touch it,” Amoo-Mensah said. “It just went in by itself. They gave me the credit and I’ll take it, but that was all Jay.”

The goal was the 10th of the season for Tegge and proved to be the game-winning score for Naperville Central, which dominated the action in winning 2-0 in Romeoville.

The Redhawks (18-2-2) thus advance to the state semifinals for the third consecutive year and will take on Edwardsville (19-2-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Hoffman Estates.

Central is just the 11th team in the 42-year history of the state finals to reach the semifinals three consecutive seasons and only the second large school to accomplish the feat this century.

“We just had our awards ceremony for our program and one of the overlying themes that I kept talking about is legacy,” Central coach Troy Adams said.

“This senior group, along with our juniors and our sophomore, have continued a legacy that we have here of really playing outstanding soccer. When you get to this point in the season it takes a combination of outstanding soccer and a little luck and I think we had both there today.”

The soccer was outstanding throughout and the luck certainly welcomed if not expected. Just seconds before he lined up his corner kick from the left side, Tegge had fired a 22-yard rocket which Morton goalie Ian Chacon somehow tipped over the crossbar with a tremendously athletic leap.

But Tegge, who along with Amoo-Mensah and Drake Swope serve as the Redhawks’ captains, wasn’t going to be denied on the ensuing corner. The senior sent a high but sharp serve toward the back post.

The ball sailed over Chacon’s head and caught the wind perfectly, settling in the side netting as Amoo-Mensah crashed into the net.

“The corner before the goalie came out and he overcommitted and dropped it, so I thought why not try the same thing again,” Tegge said. “I put a little more whip on it and I think a gust of wind blew it right in.”

Tegge’s goal broke the spell of a contest that was shaping up all too familiarly for Morton, which thrives on frustrating even the most potent offensives with swarming defense.

The Mustangs (26-3), who beat the Redhawks in overtime in the 2011 state championship game, managed to hold off Central for 63 minutes but then gave up two goals in less than three minutes.

Junior Jordi Heeneman scored on a header with 13:38 to go on a rebound after Sam Reskala’s shot was blocked by a defender.

“We were knocking it around,” Adams said. “We knew we had to be patient. We knew that they were a very strong defensive team.

“They got numbers behind the ball, they were very disciplined and they always would have somebody doubling on [the ball] whenever we had it. We knew we had to keep the ball moving quickly and we talk about doing our jobs and doing our roles and this group this year does that as well as any team I’ve seen.”

The Redhawks were able to stay patient because they gave Morton absolutely nothing. The Mustangs mustered three shots, only one of which was on frame.

That came with 4:55 left in the second half on a 22-yard shot by Edgar Garcia. The drive was ticketed for the upper left corner but Central goalie Joe Kallikaden made the stop to preserve the shutout.

Shutting out Morton was crucial, according to Amoo-Mensah.

“We watched them play and we knew if they scored first they were just going sit back and drop on us, so we knew we had to get that first goal and really keep the pressure on them,” Amoo-Mensah said. “Once we got that first goal, we could let off a little bit but that second goal really reassured us.”

Heeneman’s goal was his team-leading 13th of the season. The Redhawks have many quality players but, unlike last year, no star striker like Pat Flynn, who graduated after setting Central’s single-season and career scoring records.

Instead, five players have tallied between seven and 13 goals. That group includes Heeneman, Tegge, Amoo-Mensah, Reskala and another senior midfielder, Ben Border.

It is one of the main reasons the Redhawks are going back to state in a year when many doubted they would.

“We definitely had some questions,” Tegge said. “We knew we weren’t going to be able to have that one guy up top like Flynn but I think we’ve played to our strengths very well.

“We’re not the biggest team, either, but we haven’t been dominated in the air by teams either and I think giving our best effort we can every game is the key to our success.”

The effort of the midfielders sets the tone.

“If [we midfielders] start off the game 110 percent and we’re playing smart, if we’re communicating, the whole team will follow suit and it all works out really well,” Tegge said. “We’ve been very lucky. The majority of the guys on this team and the past two years, we’ve grown up with playing club soccer with and playing up a year with the same coaches and similar teams.

“[It is] not only the skill but the personal aspect. We mesh together really well and I think that has helped us tremendously.”

Now only one goal remains for this group, which shares the collective pain of losing the last two state title games in overtime, first to Morton and then to Warren last year. You can be sure the captains won’t let the Redhawks forget.

“All three captains, we’ve been [in the final] the last two years and we had lost so we know what that feels like,” Amoo-Mensah said. “I think that’s definitely drives us, pushes us through the first rounds of these playoffs and that’s definitely keeping us going.”

Central joins Bowen (1979-81), Granite City (1977-80, 1987-90), Quincy Notre Dame (1984-86), Collinsville (1991-93), St. Charles (1995-97), Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (1998-2000), Lincoln-Way (1999-2001), Peoria Notre Dame (2000-2004, 2008-2012), Waterloo Gibault (2005-2009) and Rochester (2006-2008) in making three consecutive state semifinals.

“It’s definitely a unique group in that way,” Adams said. “You don’t see it very often and the great thing is all 24 kids we have with us right now are buying into what we’re trying to accomplish. As long as we play as a ‘we’ group we’re good to go.”


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