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Boys Championship Game: Fenwick 11 Naperville Central 8

 

LINCOLNSHIRE, IL - Fenwick won their seventh straight state title by beating Naperville Central 11-8 on Saturday night. John Osborne and Matt Farmer each recorded four goals to lead the Friars, while goalie Dan Francisco made several key first half saves and totaled 17 stops in a dominant performance in goal. Kyle Rickert and Ryan Stanley both scored 3 times and Mark Menis added 2 scores in the losing effort for the Redhawks.

 

With the score tied at 6-6 after a third quarter surge by the Redhawks, Osborne and Ted Herbstritt recorded goals in the final twenty-seven seconds of the third quarter, and it was the type of response that crushed the Naperville Central momentum that nearly saw them take the lead at the midpoint of the third period. Farmer followed with a goal on a backhand shot from four meters that slid into the left side of the goal less than a minute into the fourth quarter, and the Friars were able to limit the Redhawks to just two goals in the final six minutes of play.

 

Menis got Central back within two scores with a goal from the left post at the 3:31 mark of the final quarter, but Farmer earned a penalty and converted the shot himself one minute later to give Fenwick a 10-7 advantage. Farmer continued his amazing second half, scoring again from two meters out on Fenwick's next possession, giving Fenwick an 11-7 cushion with under two minutes to play. Rickert scored less than twenty seconds later to cut the lead to 11-8, but Francisco stopped his next attempt in the final minute and the Friars ran out the clock on a three-goal victory.

 

The Redhawks did hold the first lead of the game after Rickert's first goal of the contest came from the right side of the pool less than three minutes into the game. The Friars, however, did not want to allow another early-game run like the one they allowed to St Ignatius in Saturday's semifinal game (St Ignatius led 4-0 in the first quarter in a game Fenwick won 16-8). Instead, the put together a 4-0 run of their own, thought it took them the first two quarters to do it.

 

It was the goaltending of Francisco that proved to be an early key of the game; he blocked Stanley's penalty shot in the first quarter while the game was tied 1-1, then denied him again from point-blank range late in the period to preserve the tie. That allowed the Fenwick offense to figure out how to breakdown the Naperville Central defense, which they started to do when Osborne scored from the left wing in the first minute of the second quarter. Osborne and Will Rigali (2 goals) added goals later in the half, giving the Friars a 4-1 lead at the break.

 

The best spell of the game for the Redhawks came in the third quarter, as Rickert scored after Menis drew an ejection and Stanley converted a penalty shot to chip the lead down to 4-3. Then, Central goalie Pat Stablein made a big play, tipping Viken Huening's shot off the post, grabbing the loose ball, and finding Stanley open on the other end of the pool, and he tied the game with a breakaway goal at the 3:10 mark. Fenwick needed a timeout to slow the Redhawks' momentum, though it didn't appear like it would help on the next Central possession.

 

Menis was nearly able to score on a breakaway, but the Fenwick defense was able to close him down near the goal, When he turned to shoot, the ball slipped out of his hand but ended up going beyond Francisco and landing softly on the goal line. The Fenwick keeper just got to it before it crossed the line, flinging the ball out of potential danger as quickly as possible. It came directly to Rickert at five meters, he passed quickly to Stanley at the point, and his fired a shot that rattled the left post and bounced out. In all the chaos, Osborne broke in the other direction, getting open for a breakaway chance that he converted to the bottom right corner of the net, and Fenwick reclaimed a 5-4 lead. Rigali scored on a lob shot to put the Friars ahead 6-4, and it seemed they had gotten the momentum back late in the period.

 

The Redhawks had other plans, however, as Stanley scored after collecting his own rebound after hitting the post to trim the lead to 6-5, then Menis scored on a rebound chance with 1:15 left in the period to even the scoreline at 6-6.

 

That's when Fenwick put together their most important run of the game, starting with Osborne's sweep shot from two meters with 0:27 showing on the third period clock. The Friars then forced a turnover, leading to Herbstritt's goal from the right side of the pool off a quick pass from Osborne with three ticks left on the clock, and it would prove to be the type of backbreaking goal that gave Fenwick all they would need to go on to the win.

 

 

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