Boys lacrosse: Wheaton Academy downs Neuqua to take 3rd in state
The Wheaton Academy boys lacrosse team eyed a bigger jump but settled for a memorable consolation prize on Saturday.
After placing fourth in the program's first state trip last season, the Warriors were aiming for the ultimate prize this weekend -- the state championship.
But Thursday's state semifinal defeat to Loyola derailed those hopes.
Still, the Warriors, a team without a senior in the starting lineup, bounced back in a back way, scoring 7 goals in the first half in a 12-1 rout over Neuqua Valley in the third-place game at Hinsdale Central High School.
"I'm super proud of our guys and coaching staff," Wheaton Academy coach Geoff Weisenborn said. "Our guys came out strong. (Friday) was a hard day. A lot of guys had a pit in their stomach after losing in the state semifinals. Motivation was hard, but we refocused this morning and talked about things we could achieve, and taking steps this program hadn't done before. They came out and did it. It shows a lot of character for our guys to respond quickly from what we saw as failure."
Aiden Weisenborn paced the Warriors (17-4-1) with 3 goals and an assist. A.J. Serna and Liam White both added 2 goals to go with an assist.
"This win feels pretty good," Serna said. "Everyone worked hard for this. This is one of the games where you are only one of two teams to win your final game, so coming home with third place is better than fourth."
Aiden Weisenborn said the Warriors showed heart by not letting the disappointment of the semifinal loss seep into Saturday's third-place game. A year ago, the Warriors also lost to Loyola in the semifinals, only to drop a 7-6 decision to York in the third-place game.
"Losing two nights ago wasn't a great feeling, but we had one more time to play together as a team and we came out and gave everything we had," he said. "After a loss like we had the other day, we wanted to show the team we really are."
Junior Gavin Pedone said the Warriors' blended good offense with solid defense. Johnny Carrington racked up 5 saves in the first half and backup goalkeeper Jaret Jawor had 2 stops over the final two quarters.
"This is huge for us," he said. "Last year we finished fourth with a very young team. We're already preparing for next season. Our coach talked about this is the first game of our next season. We're really looking forward to next year. We're going to have a blast next season. We came out loose today, and we were ready for this game."
Neuqua Valley coach Josh Maluta said his team overcame a lot of adversity, including serious knee injuries to four players, to place fourth at state. Josh Kubicki scored the Wildcats (11-8-1) only goal early in the third quarter.
"Our season was a lot of trials and tribulations," Kubicki said. "We've had some tough battles, but I couldn't be more proud of our team to make it to state. We're losing a very strong senior class with 15 players. Our goalie, Charlie Stemen, has been phenomenal in the cage. In attack, Andrew Arimborgo has a great shot and we're going to miss him, along with senior Reese Baron. Defensively, Kyle McVittie is also another player we're going to miss as well. He's been a great leader for the defense."