LaxPower.com ranked St. Charles North as the top Illinois Class A boys lacrosse team before Monday’s victory against fellow power Benet.
Naturally, the 10-9, overtime thriller kept the North Stars – 4-0 entering play Thursday – at No. 1. Those figurative “defeat me” signs on players’ backs won’t be falling, either.
“We’ve had the energy throughout the year, but we’re getting it higher and higher each game, which is good,” North senior midfielder Nick McCullough said. “Everyone’s just pushing each other in practice. We know each game is an important game to us and everyone is out to get us.”
Benet rebounded from a 9-4 deficit after three quarters to put the host North Stars on their heels at East Side Sports Complex.
A penalty call near the end of regulation granted Benet a man advantage and possession when overtime started, but North goaltender Alec Datoli (14 saves) recovered behind his defense.
After killing the penalty, North struck for the decisive power-play goal when attackman Zach Behrens took a feed from Judson Huxtable and scored his fifth goal with just under two minutes remaining in the four-minute overtime.
“Zach really kept the tempo up and played out of his mind,” senior midfielder Riley Martin said.
Martin and McCullough are among a group of veteran standouts who have seen the lacrosse program shift from a St. Charles co-op to separate teams for North and St. Charles East.
North’s hot start in 2013 comes amid a role reversal in the coaching staff. Wanting to spend more time with family, former longtime coach Andy Thompson ceded control of the team to Sean McCaffrey during the fall but remained as offensive coordinator.
McCullough notes that little has changed in the dynamic, other than McCaffrey is the one handling paperwork and getting in referees’ ears should the situation call for that.
“They’ve kind of turned us into men in a way,” said Martin, who recently committed to NCAA Division II Seton Hill (Pa.). “We came in so young and we were much more [about] watching how older guys were doing it. And then our coaches helped bring us up when we finally got on the field.”
North ranked fourth in the IHSLA polls entering the Benet game, but ultimately realizes winning once next month’s playoffs begin trumps any early-season success.
Either way, the North Stars are going for both. Nothing seems out of the question when you’re armed with so much energy.
Vikes setting (and spiking) standard: Mason Sterwalt recalled middle school PE class when Geneva debuted its boys volleyball program in 2011.
“It was always fun to play, mess around with your friends,” he said. “I heard a couple guys were trying to get together a team, and I thought it was a good idea.”
Now a senior outside hitter for a team that was 12-4 entering Thursday, Stierwalt and classmates who held similar rationales two springs ago are finding their investment paying off.
Co-captains Stierwalt and Dominic Bondi lead a core group that also includes Nathan Jesko, Chris Parilli and Swiss foreign exchange student Guillaume Rey.
Geneva is vying to take sole possession of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title after sharing accolades with St. Charles East last season. A key road match against streaking St. Charles North looms on May 7.
“We’ve come a long way,” Stierwalt said. “Even after losing all our seniors, I never had a doubt that our younger kids and all the other guys were going to be able to step up and carry this program.”
Cougars rained out: The Cougars’ Thursday night game at Wisconsin was postponed due to rain and is scheduled to be made up as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5:05 p.m. today.
With rain and snow in the forecast in Appleton, Wis., for days to come, the Cougars wouldn’t mind if the series were shifted to the home of the Timber Rattlers’ parent Milwaukee Brewers. Miller Park’s retractable roof looks pretty good to baseball teams of the upper midwest right about now.
After four games in Wisconsin, Kane County will visit Beloit for three games to conclude its first road trip of the season.
The Cougars avoided their first home rainout since 2011 on Wednesday, as the start of their series finale with Clinton was postponed about 50 minutes due to rain.
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.