Boys lacrosse: Wheaton Academy's early lead slips away in state semifinals
The Wheaton Academy boys lacrosse team ran into a familiar opponent at a familiar time of the season on Thursday in Hinsdale.
A year ago, the Warriors lost to Loyola Academy in the state semifinals.
Fast forward to Thursday night.
After seizing a 2-goal lead early in the second quarter, the Warriors struggled scoring goals in a rematch of last season's state semifinal rematch against Loyola. The Ramblers scored 3 goals in the second and third quarters to pull out a 9-5 victory over the Warriors at Dickinson Field.
The Warriors (16-4-1) will seek their first top-three trophy in Saturday's 1 p.m. third-place game against Neuqua Valley.
Just like last season, the Ramblers (20-3) face off against Lake Forest in Saturday's championship game at 6 p.m.
"They battled all year and are a great group and I'm excited for Saturday's game," Wheaton Academy coach Geoff Weisenborn. "They gave great effort, but we came up a little short. We're excited to get one more game."
The low-scoring game was in stark contrast to last season's 11-7 victory by the Ramblers. The Warriors scored three goals to take a 3-1 lead with 8:42 left in the second quarter, but managed just one more goal -- early in the third quarter -- until a late goal by Serna in the fourth.
The Ramblers mounted a big comeback, scoring 8 of the next 9 goals to seize a 9-4 lead with 4:17 left in the fourth quarter. Serna notched his second goal to end the scoring drought to raise his season total to 22 goals, drilling a shot into the back of the net with just under 3 minutes remaining.
Wheaton Academy sophomore Liam White said the state semifinal defeat stung, but his team will be back. The Warriors have only three seniors on their roster, and don't have a senior in the starting lineup.
"As a program, we're building these past few years," White said. "We've not been known as one of the top teams in the state, but we started to prove it these past couple of years. We worked hard as a team. We've been working on strong (starts), and came out early, but Loyola is a really talented team. This game will only get us better. We're hoping to see them next year at state."
After reaching the state semifinals for the first time in program history last season, the Warriors returned to state aiming to avenge last season's defeat to the Ramblers. In the early minutes, the Warriors followed the same formula as last season, leading 3-1 following goals by Aiden Weisenborn, Davis Schneider and Serna.
Junior Aiden Weisenborn, who scored two goals in the loss, said the 4-goal defeat doesn't diminish the team's memorable season.
"It's been a great season this year and we battled," he said. "We have a really young squad, so seeing this competition throughout the playoffs last year and this year is great. It's a great honor to play in the final four. We're excited for next year. We started strong today as a team. We were aggressive, and our shots were falling at the beginning of the game. We never gave up."
Wheaton Academy sophomore goalie Johnny Carrington credited Loyola for a strong game. He finished with 6 saves, noting that the Warriors will learn from the tough loss.
"It's definitely better and next year we're coming out as a team, and are going to be bigger, faster and stronger," Carrington said. "Making it back to state two years in a row is great. Next year we have to play better."
Wheaton Academy junior defender Mikey Edell said Loyola had a number of talented players capable of scoring.
"They have a lot of good players," Edell said. "I thought we could've executed better up top, but we all played great game on defense and talked through it. We just let a few slip through at the end."