It was a banner day for Mundelein, and one player in particular stole the show Thursday night in the girls water polo state tournament.
The Mustangs faced Barrington in the quarterfinals of the Elite Eight meet at Stevenson, and Mundelein rolled to an 11-5 victory behind a state tournament tying 9-goal performance by standout junior Karrie Kozokar.
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Mundelein (27-6) advanced to the semifinals Saturday at 9 a.m. against Lincoln-Way Central (29-5), which defeated Loyola 12-11 in the first game of the day. Barrington closed out its season with a 27-5 record in its fourth appearance at the state tourney.
The contest was pretty close most of the way as Kozokar opened the scoring on an assist by Courtney Perrault, putting a left-handed shot past Barrington starting goalie Grace Buenrostro 2:39 into the contest.
The Fillies responded with 1:12 left in the first quarter as senior Kelly Meckert's shot from long distance found the right corner of the net past Mundelein goalie Anna Ward.
Kozokar bounced a penalty shot into the left corner of the net with 38 seconds left in the quarter for a 2-1 lead. But Barrington tied it 2:02 into the second quarter when Sam Gavars scored on Meckert's assist.
Kozokar's third and fourth goals from the left wing made the score 4-2 late in the first half before the Fillies came out strong in the third quarter.
Just 22 seconds into the second half Gavars scored from deep to cut the gap to 4-3.
But there would be no more momentum for the Mid-Suburban League champs after that point, as Perrault scored on assist by Michelle Barron 46 seconds later to boost the lead back to 5-3.
Kozokar took over after that as she bounced a penalty shot past Barrington goalie Maddi Burrell for her fifth goal before she added another goal on another skip shot for a commanding 7-3 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
"Our team has been working really hard for it, I was just open and my teammates got me the ball, I couldn't have done it without them," said Kozokar, who tied two other players with 9 goals. "We're always confident, we have to shut Danijela (Jackovich of Lincoln-Way) down and keep a strong defense."
Trailing 7-3 after three quarter, matters got even worse for the Fillies as Kozokar's seventh goal from the right wing into the far corner of the net made the score 8-3 with 5:37 to play.
Then Kozokar scored her eighth goal with 4:55 remaining for a 9-3 advantage.
"I'm really proud of our team, we had a fantastic regular season, and it was our goal to make the final four," said Mundelein coach Drew Schneider, whose team placed second in 2003. "Karrie (Kozokar) has been our rock, she finishes off scores, but it takes the rest of the team to set her up."
Barrington put together a late rally as goals by Lisa Danhauer and Meckert cut the gap to 9-5 with 3:31 to play.
But a record-tying penalty shot by Kozokar and a goal by Barron with 1:30 left put the finishing touches on the Mustangs' victory.
"I'm very proud of the way we played this year and I'm just ecstatic about getting here, everything else is icing on the cake," said Barrington coach Mark Markwell. "On a couple of those kick-out fouls they scored goals and that widened the gap. She (Kozokar) was just tough as can be, and credit to her, credit to Drew (Schneider). It just came down to who executed better today."
The other players to score 9 goals in a state tourney game were Stevenson's Terri Bukofzer in 2005 and Mother McAuley's Jade Cabrera in 2003.