Fast Fremd start, but Fenwick finishes
Fremd senior Sam del Prado puts the Vikings ahead 3-0 in the early going against Fenwick in girls water polo state quarterfinal play Friday at Stevenson.
Paul Reeff photo
Near the end of the first quarter of a state girls water polo quarterfinal Friday night at Stevenson, Fremd senior driver Emily McCarthy did not know exactly where she was in Stevenson's pool.
But she was sure of one thing.
"I had the ball," the Viking would recall.
McCarthy, with the ball in her right, was close to mid-pool when she released a fade-away lob shot toward Fenwick goalkeeper Mackenzie Bonk.
It went in. The goal put Fremd up 4-1 on the heavily favored Friars at 1:21 of the first quarter.
"I thought I could catch the goalie off guard," she said.
It also caught Fenwick's attention. Fenwick poured in 7 unanswered goals after McCarthy's lofty tally and beat Fremd 12-6 in Lincolnshire.
Fenwick outscored the Mid-Suburban League champions 10-2 after the first quarter.
The Friars (30-3) will face New Trier today at 12:45 p.m. in a state semifinal.
"We had a nothing-to-lose attitude and we showed no fear throughout the game," said Vikings first-year coach Ray Roth after Fremd's fifth straight Elite Eight appearance. "We weren't intimidated; we did a good job of getting over that 'Fenwick aura.'"
Fremd (27-6) raced to a 3-0 lead on two goals from senior utility Sam Del Prado and another from senior driver Amy McEllen. Fenwick didn't get a shot past Vikings senior keeper Julie Conrath (11 saves) until 2:15 of the first quarter.
McCarthy, Del Prado and McEllen each finished with 2 goals apiece. Fremd seniors Lauren Zambelli and Sam Matuszewski played sturdy defense against the reigning state champions.
"These girls love the sport so much," said Roth, an assistant coach for three years under former Vikings girls coach Brian Newby, now the boys water polo coach at the school. "They fell in love with it after swimming for years.
"I learned a lot in my first year as head coach," he added. "I'm kind of a fiery guy, and I was fiery at beginning of the season. I realized that way of coaching was putting more pressure on the girls. But I changed and became more relaxed and calm as a coach."
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