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Waubsonie/Metea Scores Overtime State Championship Win Over Chicago North

By Ross Forman, 03/21/24, 2:00PM CDT


Junior James Naffziger Tallies Game-Winning Goal

Midway through sudden-death overtime Wednesday at the United Center, Waubonsie/Metea moved in toward the Chicago North goal. James Naffziger carried the puck on the left side, Ethan Newburg was ready, hoping, anticipating a pass.

“I totally could have passed it,” Naffziger said.

Instead, he shot near-side, a knuckling shot about two feet off the ice.

“I took the shot, and it went in,” Naffziger said outside the jubilant Waubonsie/Metea locker room, moments after an emotional hug from his mom.

The Warriors defeated Chicago North, 2-1, to claim the program’s third state championship in head coach Jeremy Dombro’s five seasons as head coach.

“We worked so hard in overtime; it worked out. I’m so happy, so so happy,” Naffziger said. “I picked up my head (during the two-on-on break) and saw (goalie Annika Solberg) looking the other direction, so I took the chance (near-side), and it ended up pretty well.

“That wasn’t the most skillful goal of my career, but it was the best goal; I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. When I saw it go in, I couldn’t believe it. We worked so hard to get here. Winning this game meant so much to us; I still cannot believe it.”

Waubonsie goalie Andrew Fichtel added: “It was a fun game, definitely fun to win in OT.”

Chicago North’s Ian Donohoe, who scored the team’s lone goal, said the overtime championship game was “a tough one to lose.”

“This is not a good feeling for anyone,” he added. “Everyone played their heart out, sometimes the bounces don’t go your way.”

Waubonsie/Metea struck early on an Evan Ziegler unassisted powerplay goal off a faceoff in the first period. The 1-0 edge survived until 1:27 left in regulation time when Donohoe swatted the puck in past Fichtel.

“We showed great composure,” after Chicago North tied the game, Fichtel said. “We didn’t change our mindset. When we scored, it was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

Naffziger added: “They came in here ready to steamroll us; they were way too confident. We worked too hard all season to lose this game.”

Dombro, coaching his last game as he announced he is retiring to spend more time with his family, was direct on his post-game emotions: “You can’t ask for anything more.”

Dombro has won four state championships in his 13 seasons coaching the Warriors, at both the JV and varsity levels..

“This was a very special group, and I was confident as ever coming into,” the United Center, Dombro said. “(Naffziger) doesn’t always finish, so, for him to finish on the biggest stage of the year, it’s pretty special.”

Added Ziegler: “It was an intense game all the way down to the finish. Our boys are resilient, and everyone is ecstatic.”

Ziegler was honored as the J.J. O’Connor High School Player of The Year during the second period intermission, which he labeled as “a true honor.”

When Naffziger scored, Ziegler said, “everyone went crazy (on the bench).”

Chicago North assistant coach Anthony Bertuca said he was “proud of what the kids accomplished, proud of how they played … they left nothing on the ice.”

And they were all teary-eyed in the Chicago North locker room post-game. “It was a two-on-one (at the end of the game) and they beat us, nothing we can do (about it). It was tough, especially as a senior.”

Bertuca added: “We accomplished a lot this year, unfortunately we came up one game short.”