Bender Russo and the Naperville Central Redhawks own two state championships in the last three years, can they add a third? Lyons Township the final roadblock in the finals at Stevenson. Central also trying to go back to back and finish the year 34-1.
We open with the Redhawks already up 1-0 on a Sean Stablein (Stab-Lin) goal… but here, it’s Bender Russo from straight away to give NC a 2-0 lead with 3 to go in the first quarter.
Shade over a minute to go in the first and Cam Dougherty gets his turn with the rock… fends off the pressure to net a goal and he says bring. It. On! 3-0 Redhawks.
Moving to the second quarter and Central leads 3-1… Jonah Klein Collins sends the long pass to his brother Luke, who uses the soft touch to finish off the play. 4-1 at the half and the Redhawks pumping up the crowd going into intermission.
Coming out and how about a sprawling save from Jonah Klein Collins… 7 stops in the contest for the senior.
Brad Sanford missed the chunk of the season but he’s back for the playoff push… and how about scoring despite getting mauled. Two goals on the night for him. 6-1 Central after 3 and the faithful can sense another state trophy.
Heading to the fourth and the Redhawks looking to continue their strong defense… but that’ll be tough against Victor Perez and the Lions. Number 11 scores not once, but twice in the first minute and a half of the fourth, and just like that, it’s a 6-3 game. Lyons pumped up after a timeout taken by Central head coach Bill Salentine.
Remember I said Brad Sanford scored two goals in the game… well, here’s the second. Comes in a crucial time to stop the 2-0 run. 7-3 with 5 minutes to play.
After swapping goals, Jonah Klein Collins needs to come up with a pivotal stop… and he does! He bats down the long range shot and keeps the lead at 4.
Just over a minute to go and it’s desperation time for the Lions… and Liam Malas answers the call… makes it 8-5.
However… too little time for Lyons Township to mount a comeback… so for the third time in four years, Naperville Central is the IHSA State Champion! Cam Dougherty and crew are jacked and ready to celebrate back to back titles.
Check out Naperville Central great water polo season in our Boys Sports Highlights!