Not many girls water polo teams in Illinois could treat Naperville Central like St. Ignatius did Thursday night in Lincolnshire.
The Redhawks fell to St. Ignatius 15-6 in their state quarterfinal at Stevenson High School, the victims of a 7-goal Wolfpack blitz in the third period.
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"St. Ignatius, I've got to give them props," Redhawks senior goalie Erin Reagan said, "they came out fast in the second half."
The Redhawks (22-12) led 4-3 after a Leslie Calabrese goal midway through the second period, but the Wolfpack (23-4-1) answered with three straight goals to take a 6-4 halftime lead.
"I think we finally got refocused and all our jitters went away and we realized who we are and got our confidence back," St. Ignatius coach Michael Cashman said.
The Redhawks started the third quarter well, pulling within a goal when Calabrese scored her third goal of the game on a breakaway. It was all St. Ignatius from there, however.
"Our defense came around and we finally learned how to pass again," Cashman said.
Before the Redhawks knew what happened, the 1-goal deficit had become a 13-5 deficit entering the fourth period. One St. Ignatius goal later, Redhawks coach Jeff Plackett emptied the bench.
"The wheels fell off a little bit there in the third quarter," Plackett said, "and it was just kind of hard to get us back on the right track."
"I don't think we ever gave up, I really don't. I think we worked hard every second we were in there," Reagan said. "St. Ignatius, they were very good."
The Redhawks, who finished second at state last year, were rebuilding this season.
"One of our main goals from the beginning of the season was to prove to the state of Illinois that we weren't going to just quit after we lost five starters," Reagan said.
"Somewhere around the middle of April somebody left us for dead, and I don't know why," Plackett said. "To me the measure of a program is, if you look at our losses during the season, we lost to very good teams. We built to the end of the season, but we got to a quarterfinal game where we ran into of the teams that I think is favored to win it all."
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz