Andrew’s Chuck Walters set up in the hole in the sudden-death double overtime period Monday, took a pass from Dan Cavato and buried the game-winner.
It was a moment the senior won’t soon forget.
“I shot it in and it just felt great,” he said. “That’s the kind of goal you wait four years for.”
The goal finished off a thrilling season-opening clash between the District 230 rivals as the Thunderbolts prevailed 15-14 in the SouthWest Suburban crossover in Palos Hills.
It was quite an early statement for an Andrew squad that finished 10-16 in 2013.
“We’re a lot better than we were last year,” said the Thunderbolts’ Eric Tamulonis, who led the team with six goals. “We’re going to be a strong team. This was a great win to start the season.”
Alex Gacek added four goals for Andrew and Walters had two.
Zack Amendola scored a game-high seven goals for Stagg, with Connor Kaufmann adding three and Nick Amendola two.
The Chargers appeared to have the win wrapped up in regulation, leading 11-9 in the final minute before Tamulonis scored with 47 seconds to go.
Andrew got the ball back and, after a Walters shot was stopped by Stagg goalie Peter Krivanec (15 saves), Cavato came up with the ball and fired a laser that went off Krivanec’s body and floated just beyond the goal line at the buzzer to force overtime.
Andrew led 13-12 after the first of two mandatory overtime periods, but Zack Amendola scored twice – including the game-tying goal with 19 seconds left – in the second to force the sudden-death period.
Both teams came up empty on one possession in sudden death before Walters played the hero.
“I always tell the guys we’re a fourth quarter team,” Andrew coach Krzysztof Kowal said. “We stuck together and pulled it out.
“This is the type of game that we didn’t want to have so early. It felt like diving head-first into the shallow end of the pool, but to win is absolutely huge. It was something special for us.”
Stagg, which has had limited practice time with five of its players training for swimming nationals, recovered from a slow start. After falling behind 3-1 after one quarter, the Chargers tied it 5-5 at halftime and took a 9-7 lead after three before the T-bolts fought back.
“We played better in the third and fourth quarters,” Stagg coach Wes Gonzalez said. “The first half was like practice, with the kids getting to know each other again. If we can learn from this and make less mistakes next time, this’ll be a good thing.”