NSW Awards // Top Ten Plays of the Year // Season 12

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Who doesn’t love a dunk or buzzer beater goal? How about a chip from the sand to save the championship. All of those situations and more happened on our fields and courts this year. Kevin Jackman has the honor of bringing us the top ten plays of NSW presented by Aurelio’s of Naperville. 

The Countdown

#10 Naperville Central: Nina Raab

We begin our countdown of Top Ten Plays on the tennis courts and little game of cat and mouse. Naperville Central’s Nina Raab keeps chasing down shot after shot against Naperville North. That is, until she catches her mouse in the form of a lob that perfect tucks inside the back line.

 #9 Naperville Central: Sam Jackson

We check in with a sophomore sensation, Sam Jackson. Not only is the Redhawk already committed to Minnesota as a quarterback without ever starting a game under center; well… he can do things like this. A one handed snag after taking the lid off the defense.

#8 Benet Academy: Game Winning Goal

The stakes don’t get much higher as we check in at number eight. Overtime against Wauconda in the State Championship game, Benet Academy’s Abby Casmere puts her defenders through the spin cycle, before Jamiee Cibulka hangs the goalie out to dry. The goal is the game winner after Mary Kate Hansen tied the game with less than 90 ticks left in regulation… leaving Benet as the lone team remaining in 2A.

#7  Naperville North: Tom Welch

We’ve gotta crane our necks upward for number seven. Not only is Naperville North’s Tom Welch the state’s (and maybe the nation’s) best prep soccer goalie, he can leap out of a building. Myles Barry puts the feed right on him, and Welch, puts down the thunderous two hand slam. No wonder he’s playing hoops next year for Loyola Chicago.

 #6 Benet Academy: Lauren Beaudreau

While it’s admittedly tough to top the physical feat of completing an alley-oop… how about a cold blooded shot at number 6. Benet’s Lauren Beaudreau is up one stroke on the 18th hole on day two of the state meet. Essentially, if she doesn’t get up and down from the sand… it’s either onto playoff holes, or she loses. But nope. She sticks it within a few feet, drains the putt and becomes the state champ, capping an incredible high school career.

 #5 Benet Academy: Hattie Monson

We get our third and final Benet play in our top ten at number five. Hattie Monson is another Redwing with a prodigious prep career… and she finishes it off with style. This quick dig out of the back row is pure instinct AND it keeps the point alive long enough to see Benet win the set and top Naperville North for the sectional title en route to a third place finish at state.

#4 Neuqua Valley: Dan Curtis

In the Sectional Final between Neuqua Valley and South Elgin, the Wildcats getting a truly crazy goal for our number four play. Sam Schink finds Dan Curtis in front of the net… and he finishes off the play by going BEHIND THE HEAD! Unfazed by the shove in the back, Curtis dazzles with the sneaky move, leading to a Neuqua blow out.

Honorable Mentions

Naperville Central: Ben Cianchetti

Naperville Central’s Ben Cianchetti some how gains leverage and despite wrestling at 190 pounds, sweeps his opponent right off the mat and helps gravity do the rest. Predictably, he gets the pin a few moments later.

Neuqua Valley: Jane Riehs

Just a sophomore at Neuqua Valley, Jane Riehs crushed the competition both on the balance beam… and virtually everywhere else to claim the All-Around DVC title.

Metea Valley: Nicole Orloff

Metea Valley’s Nicole Orloff waits back on a soft liner, makes the heads up play to tag the runner coming from first before pirouetting and tossing on to complete the 4-3 double play.

Naperville North: Colin Iverson

To the state final game we go and just like he’s done for virtually his entire career, Naperville North’s Colin Iverson uses his head (literally) to put in the go-ahead goal to secure the Huskie’s third straight championship.

The Top Three

 #3 Waubonsie Valley: Megan Burling

Back to out Top Ten Plays: Stepping in between the pipes in a playoff game is nerve wracking… but even more so when it’s your first time ever donning mitts and the goalkeeper pinny. After Waubonsie’s Megan Burling scored earlier in a sectional semi-final game against Naperville Central, she steps in for the Warriors injured goalie for PKs… and makes a diving stop as Waubonsie ends up moving on.

#2 Warrior Hockey Club: Zach Pearce

We’ve seen our share of outstanding hockey plays over the last few years, but this one is right up there with them. The most prolific scorer on the state champion Warrior hockey team, Zach Pearce saved his greatest Houdini trick for Wheaton West in the Illinois West Cup… not only does he stick handle a defender clean out of his skate, he then scores with his face mere inches from the ice.

 #1 Neuqua Valley: Tom Bludgen

Alas! We’ve landed on our top play and it comes from the pitch. Neuqua Valley’s Tom Bludgen rises to the occasion in the regional semi-final affair with Central… and with the game tied at 1 midway through the second half… goes on a rampage. He twirls fools the entire defense with the twirl and then puts it precisely inside the post for the game winner… and NSW’s top play of the year.

Check out where all of these Top Ten Plays came from in our Boys and Girls Sports Highlights!