ELMHURST – York got the confidence boost it needed against Huntley on Tuesday night.
The Dukes wanted to find their identity after losing experience from last season’s team that made it to the sectional finals and did so against the Red Raiders in their Glenbard West Invitational opener, scoring 12 goals in the first three quarters in a 12-8 win.
“It’s really exciting,” York junior Bennet Jones said. “It’s a confidence boost for everybody.”
York (2-0) didn’t wait long to show how well the offense would run when Blake Rieger scored 41 seconds into the match. Huntley’s Connor Ardell tied the game with 10:10 left in the first quarter, but Seamus Wicklow scored less than a minute later to give the Dukes a 2-1 lead.
The Red Raiders kept the game tight, trailing 4-2 after one quarter but the Dukes turned it on in the second and third quarters, scoring eight goals and running out to an 8-4 halftime lead and a 12-5 lead after the third quarter.
GOAL: Brian Grant drives down the middle and scores to give York a 3-1 lead with 8:20 left in 1Q. pic.twitter.com/UhY56yA7Ko— Michal Dwojak (@mdwojak94) March 21, 2023
The Dukes moved the ball around patiently while on offense, waiting for the Red Raiders to slide too early in order to get their scoring chances. Once Huntley did, York took advantage.
“It’s really just waiting for them to break down more than us,” Jones said. “We just have to do our stuff, wait for them to break down and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Jones led the scoring for the Dukes with four goals, all in the second and third quarters, while Rieger scored three. Wicklow finished the night with two goals while Brian Grant, Lance McCann and Evan Gaughan each scored once.
“It’s really exciting. It’s a confidence boost for everybody.”— Bennet Jones, York junior
York coach Tom Coyne thought the Dukes’ ability to win ground balls helped them win Tuesday. The Dukes’ defense and special teams still need work, but Coyne gladly will let the offense carry the load as the season progresses.
“We’re excited to play well,” Coyne said. “They were a good team that played good defense.”
Huntley didn’t give up despite facing a 12-5 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The Red Raiders moved the ball around more and made the most of their open chances, with Nico Andrews scoring three goals in the fourth.
Andrews and Ardell each scored three goals, while Liam Manning and Bobby Pupich each scored once.
The Red Raiders (0-1) faced a tough challenge to start the season, but Huntley coach Dominic Saccomanno said his team competed well and just didn’t make the right decisions at certain times.
GOAL: Huntley’s Liam Manning makes it a 3-2 York lead after scoring with 5:55 left in the 1Q. pic.twitter.com/4RBczmOK0d— Michal Dwojak (@mdwojak94) March 21, 2023
Saccomanno said he wouldn’t be happy with Tuesday’s loss if it was Huntley’s 10th game of the season, but as a season opener, Saccomanno said he was confident the Red Raiders will find a groove quickly as they try to contend for a third straight Fox Valley Conference title and another trip to the supersectional round.
“The fact that it was Game 1 and all we need to work on is our decision-making and gelling a little but, I’m for that,” Saccomanno said. “With the experience we have, we’ll pick that up quickly.”
Huntley and York will continue play in the Glenbard West Invitational on Wednesday with York taking on the winner of Tuesday’s Glenbrook South-Marist matchup while the Red Raiders will take on the loser.
The Dukes will try to continue to build their confidence this week against some of the best teams in the state.
“Maybe it was a little shaky, but we’re kind of realizing that we’re as good as we were last year,” Jones said. “It’s really exciting.”