Stagg came into the season with high expectations, but entered Thursday just 6-6, with inconsistency and key players missing for swimming nationals contributing to the team’s struggles.
On Thursday, with their full lineup intact, the Chargers got the statement win they hope will send them on the right track, topping rival Sandburg 10-8 in a SouthWest Suburban Blue showdown in Palos Hills.
“It’s just too exciting,” Stagg’s Nick Amendola said. “At first, we didn’t know what to expect. We knew we had the potential to do this. We just played a great game and played as a team and it was so much fun.”
Amendola led the way, scoring five times. Evan Johnson and Connor Kaufmann added two goals each for the Chargers (7-6, 1-1).
Zach Roper paced Sandburg (5-2, 2-1) with three goals.
Up 3-2 after one, Stagg outscored the Eagles 5-2 in the second quarter. Amendola and Johnson each scored twice in the period. Johnson closed the half by scoring on a laser from outside with one second left to send the Chargers to the break with an 8-4 lead.
“We were clicking,” Johnson said. “Early on, we were missing four or five players at a time with swimming down in Florida. We just started to play how we want to this week.”
Stagg led 9-4 after a Kaufmann goal early in the third, but had to hold on for most of the second half without one of its stars, Zack Amendola, who didn’t score and picked up his third ejection to foul out with 3:48 left in the third.
Sandburg battled back and got within 9-7 when Hamza Razeq scored from the point with 5:39 left in the game.
Nick Amendola, though, answered to make it 10-7 with 3:05 left and time ran out on the Eagles’ comeback hopes.
“It was huge with Zack getting ejected early, the other players all stepped up despite that,” Stagg coach Wes Gonzalez said. “They showed a lot of character.”
Ben Crnich added two goals and Sean McNicholas made six saves for Sandburg.
“We have a lot of inexperienced kids and this is the way our team is right now,” Sandburg coach Jim Caliendo said. “We got a big win Tuesday [against Lockport] then we come out and lay an egg. We need seasoning. I think by the second half of the season we’ll be a good team.”