Naperville Central's girls water polo players weren't about to give back their nice, big trophy after losing 10-7 to seven-time state champion Fenwick in the state finals at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.
"I'm so proud," Redhawks senior Gracie May said Saturday night. "We've all worked so hard for this, and we really deserve this. It was an awesome game. Everyone really gave it their all."
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"We have 14 girls on our team who just had an experience that most high school kids couldn't dream of," Naperville Central coach Jeff Plackett added. "We told them after the game they have nothing to hang their heads about."
The teams came out scoring early, ending the first quarter tied at 3.
"We came out and we looked real strong the first half. We put some goals in," Plackett said. "We were moving real well there at the start of the game, and I know we'll look back at it and watch the tape of this game to see what we can fix for the next time we play these girls."
Fenwick (32-3) took the lead for good with 2:27 left in the third quarter on a Colleen Barron goal.
"They capitalized on our few messups and we should have taken more advantage of theirs," Redhawks senior Jamie Schweikart said.
The Friars' lead increased in the fourth quarter on a pair of Alexa Ovalle goals.
Fenwick coach John Wagner tried to put his finger on the difference in the game.
"I hate to say heart, because they're a (heck) of a team," Wagner said of the Redhawks, "but I think in the end (the Friars) just wanted it and made those little extra plays that put us over the top."
Record-setting senior Abbey Kerth scored 3 goals for the Redhawks (33-3), and May, Emily Sejna, Erin Reagan and Madison Nervig scored 1 each. Goalkeeper Julia Campbell made a dozen saves.
"I can't put my finger on it to say that it's anything that we did wrong," Plackett said. "It's Fenwick played like Fenwick in the state championship game. But you know what? Congratulations to Fenwick. They played very well too. There are an awful lot of girls teams that would love to be standing in our shoes right now."