St. Charles E. tips rival behind Phelps' 7 goals
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St. Charles East's boys water polo team didn't talk trash during Thursday's cross-town battle with St. Charles North.
But the Saints cleaned up at the most opportune time, as senior Mitch Phelps' rebound of a shot from teammate Max Schmitt that was initially turned away by North Stars goalie Collin Bawolek found the back of the net with 2:26 remaining in the fourth period.
Phelps' seventh goal of the match wound up as the game-winner during the Saints' hard-fought 10-9 victory over St. Charles North (4-6-1) at the Norris Aquatic Center.
"That's called a garbage goal," said Phelps, who scored 3 of his team's 4 final-period goals as the Saints rallied from a 7-6 deficit after 3 periods. "It's knowing where the ball is going to be on that rebound and being able to fight until the end."
After senior teammate Ian Salveson's lofted shot found the back of the net to tie the score at 7-7 with 5:41 remaining, Phelps netted back-to-back goals -- the latter coming on a blind backhand shot from point-blank range -- to give the Saints a 2-goal advantage.
"It's all about knowing where you are in the pool and knowing where your teammates are," Phelps said of his back-to-the-net shot making ability.
"He definitely is a force," St. Charles East first-year head coach Jaclyn Weber said of Phelps. "He's got a strong arm and he's a smart player."
The Saints also received strong defensive efforts from Salveson and senior goalie Nick Fagen (8 saves) while improving their overall record to 13-4.
"Ian played amazing defense -- he was unstoppable," Weber said of Salveson. "Our defense was impeccable. It was right on."
After the teams traded 2 goals apiece in the opening period, the Saints grabbed a 4-2 halftime lead on second-period tallies from senior Austin Muehlschlegl and Phelps.
Needing an offensive spark, the North Stars received just that from senior captain Justin Simmonds, who scored 3 goals in the first 3:34 of the third period to tie the match at 5-5.
Back-to-back goals from Ryan Helfers and Tim Steele capped a 5-goal period and gave the North Stars a 7-6 advantage.
"The kids came out at halftime and battled really hard," said North Stars Chris Cloy. "They were aggressive and we were able to put some in on the offensive end."
Simmonds scored his fifth goal of the match with 3:50 remaining to trim the Saints' lead to 9-8.
"He's our senior captain for a reason," Cloy said of Simmonds. "First and foremost, he's a great kid. He backs it up in the pool with his work ethic, and he did a great job today.
"We need to clean up a couple things defensively," added Cloy. "We know where we're at. The kids played hard and we're going to get better from it."
Meanwhile, the Saints made amends for Wednesday's 10-9 double-overtime, sudden-death defeat at the hands of Lincoln-Way North.
"This was a huge game to win for us," said Weber. "We had a great crowd and our guys were excited. They wanted this win."
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