Evidently there is no crying in girls water polo.
Naperville North entered Friday night's match with Fenwick riding a 16-game winning streak before falling 11-8 at the state girls water polo quarterfinals in Lincolnshire.
The Huskies (30-2) watched seven-time state champion Fenwick take an early 3-1 lead. However, when senior Dani DiMatteo scored with less than two minutes to play before halftime, the Huskies were ahead at the break 6-5.
Fenwick (29-2) made some second-half adjustments and went on to score four times in the third quarter.
OK, so the season ends for Naperville North. However, it clearly looked like the Huskies were celebrating a win. There were smiles everywhere. The girls posed for pictures without tears.
"Our goal was to get to state,'' said Naperville North coach Andy McWhirter. "We never let up. And we lost to one of the traditional state powers."
This match was clearly decided in the third quarter. The Huskies seemed stifled by the Fenwick defense. And then two goals from Fenwick senior Colleen Barron helped erase the halftime lead and open a working margin at 9-6. Only a goal in the final 11 seconds from DiMatteo averted a complete shutout in the third quarter.
"We tried to get the momentum,'' McWhirter said. "But Fenwick made an adjustment in the third quarter. Still we did well against one of the highest-scoring teams in the state."
It's true, the Friars hit double figures in scoring 19 times this season. Facing that powerful offense was senior goalie Kate Macduff. She, too, wasn't weeping afterward.
"I think we played our best game,'' Macduff said. "I'm not that upset. It just didn't go our way."
Naperville North's final goal of the season came on a tough shot in traffic by Jillian Eiken.
Seemingly most the game action came in the entertaining first quarter. After Fenwick surged quickly to a 2-0 lead, Taylor Stoner struck for the Huskies, two minutes into the quarter. And when Helen Wei fed DiMatteo with a great pass, this game was knotted at 3-3.
Macduff earned some kudos for her play in the third quarter. She blocked at least three shots to keep her team in contention. In the meantime Caitlin Holzer and Wei found the Fenwick net all of 27 seconds apart.
This was the Naperville North girls team's first visit to the state tournament in a decade. There were some hard years along the way. From 2007-2009 Naperville North won just 23 games, about eight wins a year. In the last three seasons McWhirter's teams have won 76 games.
"I'm looking forward to see what this team will do next year,'' Macduff said.
The Naperville North roster lists just six seniors.
"I will miss the seniors,'' McWhirter said. "What an outstanding group of girls."