Boys lacrosse: Glenbard West’s offense can’t be slowed in win against Neuqua Valley

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NAPERVILLE – The skies opened at the beginning of the second half at Neuqua Valley and a driving rain started to pelt the field.

The conditions got pretty slippery, but nothing could stop the attack of Glenbard West.

The Hilltoppers scored seven times in the third quarter, breaking open a close game in a 12-5 nonconference victory against the Wildcats.

Samuel Clark had four goals to lead West, which improved to 10-1 on the season.

“We knew that [Neuqua Valley] recently had a really close game against the No. 3 team in the state, Lake Forest,” said Hilltoppers goalkeeper Colton Nikols.

Nikols kept Glenbard West in the game in the first half with his stellar play.

“We barely beat Lake Forest, so I knew Neuqua Valley was going to be tough,” Nikols said. “They have some good shooters, so I just had to stay calm and make sure I could track the ball.”

It was a goaltenders showcase in the first quarter at Barb Barrows stadium, as Nikols and his counterpart, Owen Barth, traded great save after great save.

Hilltoppers senior Ben Cesario finally broke through with 5 seconds left in the period, rocketing a shot past Barth to make it 1-0.

“We got off to a slow start,” said Cesario, who is also a linebacker on the Glenbard West football team. “Their goalie was playing really well. I think that [my goal] showed that he could be scored on, but we just had to get the train running.

“It was just hard to get anything past him [Barth].”

Glenbard West took a 3-0 lead in the second quarter, but Neuqua Valley (3-4) closed to within 3-2 at intermission on late goals from Ben Stefanski and Cary George.

George’s tally came with under a second remaining in the half.

“We came out knowing that it was going to be a battle and we had to play with some grit,” said Stefanski, a sophomore. “We just had to play as a team and keep our foot on the gas.”

Logan McDougal of the Hilltoppers, who finished with three goals, started Glenbard West’s third quarter rampage by scoring at the 8:08 mark.

“At halftime, we talked about how we were fine,” Cesario said. “We had a lot of shots on goal, they were good shots, but their goalie was saving all of them.”

A goal by Cooper Kinney of the Hilltoppers made it 5-2, then Dillon Platen extended the lead by scoring on a spectacular strike off a feed from Clark.

By the time the Glenbard West scoring rampage was quelled, the score stood at 10-3.

The Hilltoppers stretched the lead to 12-3 in the final quarter before Neuqua Valley tacked on late goals from Brady Elliott and George.

“We started off fairly strong,” Wildcats coach Jordan Bobbo said. “But Glenbard West is a good team and they just beat us in every aspect in the second half. I just feel like we beat ourselves. In any sport, on any level, if you beat yourself, you lose the game.

“[The Hilltoppers] are one of the best teams in the state, and we were only down by one at halftime. So we can take that away, and it’s all about how you respond.”