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St. Charles North

No hard feelings as St. Charles North tops East in lacrosse battle

St. Charles East's Tim Canning is closely defended by St. Charles North's Nick McCullough during Saturday's boys lacrosse crosstown match at East Side Sports Complex.
St. Charles East's Tim Canning is closely defended by St. Charles North's Nick McCullough during Saturday's boys lacrosse crosstown match at East Side Sports Complex.

ST. CHARLES – Nate Campana leapt onto his former lacrosse coach's back and started moving in for a playful headlock.

Taller, stronger and about 15 years older, Andy Thompson wouldn't let it happen.

The St. Charles North coach, who guided the St. Charles co-op until it dissolved before this season, twisted Campana around and identified him by the number on his St. Charles East uniform shorts.

"Otherwise, I didn't know who the heck it was," Thompson grinned. "Maybe he really wanted to kill me."

Things never grew quite that contentious during Saturday's inaugural crosstown classic boys lacrosse game, and the mood certainly was lax after the North Stars left East Side Sports Complex with a 9-5 win.

Seniors from both sides posed for photos with each other and Thompson, who labored this winter over which school to join when the program split into two. There were laughs, handshakes and promises of "We'll see you next time," as no one appeared in a rush to vacate the field.

East and North nearly met in last month's North-South Shootout at Wheaton Warrenville South. Barring a tangle in the IHSLA postseason, the teams will not play again until next spring.

Maybe by then some of this ill will stuff will have festered.

"It's like playing against your brothers out there," North junior attackman Riley Martin said. "It's intense and it's awesome, and it's just crazy."

North (2-3) seized early control behind a balanced offense. Martin registered a hat trick, while Harry Bogle, Nick McCullough and Austin Patrick tallied two goals apiece.

East (0-4) answered the North Stars' opening goal a little more than one minute later and was within 4-2 with 5:43 remaining before the half. Officially the visiting team on the scoreboard, North pulled away with four straight goals bridging the second and third quarters.

Stephen Link, Alex O'Brien and Brett Hickey scored for the Saints to open the fourth, but that's as close as the team came.

"We had our backs up against the wall, and we knew we had to do something soon," Link said. "We just came up short."

Players and coaches from both teams saw nothing lacking about the atmosphere. With campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and both schools' morning announcements backing the usual parental support, the teams welcomed a full hillside of fans toting lawn chairs and blankets along with their cheers.

Thompson, a 1999 St. Charles High alum, called it the biggest home crowd he's seen in recent memory.

"It was pretty exciting, I would say. A lot of people came out, which was surprising," Link said. "It just [stinks] we lost in front of all these people."

North stayed in command thanks to the play of backup goaltender Alec Datoli, filling in for his first full game after starter Colin Snook tore shoulder ligaments while making a save against Neuqua Valley on Monday.

Both teams are relying on young, unproven talent across the board as varsity newcomers fill prominent slots.

On Saturday, as those players mingled with veterans such as Campana and McCullough, it was easy to pause and watch everyone together as one.

"It's great to win the game, obviously, but at the same time just seeing what a cool event it was means a lot," Thompson said.

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