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Saints strike back in 2nd half to tie Naperville North

Jake Walker aggressively left his defensive post ever so briefly.

Walker, the St. Charles East junior defender, beelines for the ball up the left sideline, outpaced Naperville North attackers across midfield and then soon booted it 35 yards out toward the goal hooking right.

It’s a play — finished beautifully by a streaking Mason Brockmeyer to equalize — even Walker admits he likely doesn’t make a year ago.

“Because mainly, with that kind of play, I’m leaving my defenders out to dry and it’s just confidence that I built over the years,” Walker said following the Saints’ 1-1 draw with Naperville North on Thursday. “And, trust in my teammates in the back; trust my teammates in the front that they would get there on the ball.”

Brockmeyer found his moment to be aggressive in the box coming up the far post.

“We talked about at halftime just being aggressive [and getting] in that box,” Brockmeyer said. “Usually, I’m [the one] delivering the ball, but this time, I noticed there’s a chance I got to be on the other end of it.

“I [saw] Jake serve the ball — it looks perfect — I [saw] it go over the first defender and I just knew I had to slide and make a play on it. It ended up being a great finish.”

Saints coach Vince DiNuzzo sees Walker “getting more and more comfortable.”

“The way we changed our defensive shape supported him making that run on the ball, but the confidence to swing the ball in there and find Brockmeyer was obviously a pivotal point in the game,” DiNuzzo said.

The Saints (15-3-2) fell behind with just over 11 minutes left in the first half after Naperville North’s Jaxon Stokes rifled in a ball past Jordan Rolon off of a rebound.

Rolon, who made a flurry of saves in an eventful first half, kept St. Charles East within striking distance.

“The great thing, too, is [Stokes] is only a sophomore,” Naperville North coach Jim Konrad said. “He’s going to be unfair next year and his senior year. He has that crack; some kids can feel the flow of the game and they can feel the way pressure is coming. Jaxon is so good at feeling that and taking a touch in the right direction to put a defender in a lot of pressure.”

“The first helped was stressful and very deflating,” DiNuzzo said. “So, being able in the second half to kind of restructure the way we were defending and get the kids [a little more motivated] and inspired to put on the performance to improve [was key]. We didn’t deserve to play in the first half. That was bad.”

Rolon (6 saves) and Huskies goalie Reed Goss (6 saves) both made impressive saves in the final minute to stave off a win for either team.

Rolon’s came with just shy of a minute remaining navigating heavy traffic, while Brockmeyer nearly found a seam to sneak it through. But, it was bodied away by Goss seconds before the final whistle.

The Huskies are now 11-3-3 on the season.

“We’re still finding our way a little bit,” Konrad said. “We had some chances let go and they had some chances we were lucky to avoid, but it was a great game. I think 1-1 was a fair result. It could’ve been 2-2; it could’ve been 4 – 4. I thought we had the better first helped [and] they had the better second half.”

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