Naperville Central makes tough invite opener look easy

Just by looking at the scoreboard, Naperville Central’s 8-1 girls water polo victory against Homewood-Flossmoor on Friday night at the Naperville Central Invitational seemed easy.

Redhawks coach Jeff Plackett looked below the surface, however.

“I look at that and I say in no way, shape or form did we win that game easily,” Plackett said. “One of the things you get every time you plan one of the south suburban schools is an incredibly physical match. So it was nice to have a Rebecca Matthews (on Homewood-Flossmoor) be able to push Abbey around a little bit. Maybe she doesn’t see that from some of the other teams we play during the year. Every goal that we scored, trust me, we earned.”

Goalie Julia Campbell attested to the physical nature of the game.

“Obviously, being a goalie I get to watch the whole pool,” she said. “Most of it is under water, but I can definitely tell by the facial expressions and the reactions of my teammates that there definitely was a lot of physical play.”

It won’t be easy for the host Redhawks to win the invitational championship either, with seven teams ranked in’s top 14 playing in Naperville, including No. 1 Fenwick and No. 2 Naperville Central. They are on their way toward the championship, however, after defeating Mundelein later Friday night 16-4.

The Redhawks got a pair of quick goals in the first quarter against Homewood-Floosmoor from Madison Nervig, and Abbey Kerth scored to make it 3-0 after one period. An Emily Sejna goal in the second made it 4-0.

Meanwhile, Campbell was stopping everything the Vikings threw at her. She finished with 17 saves, but rued the one that slipped past, a fourth-quarter Matthews goal off a rebound.

“I don’t always bank on (a shutout) because it’s a whole team effort, but it is disappointing,” Campbell said.

“Julia looked real good tonight, and that’s probably what the difference was,” Plackett said.

In the third quarter Kerth added her second goal, and Gracie May scored to make it 6-0. Jamie Schweikert and Michelle Spaits added fourth-quarter scores, Schweikert’s exciting Plackett the most.

“I thought Schweikert looked awesome,” he said. “We’ve got a real nice senior class, so between her and Allison Susin, they get left alone a lot while other teams are keyed on the middle of the pool against us. To have Schweikert and Susin both come off the bench and get some quality minutes and really use their legs to get behind their shots, I thought Schweikert’s goal in the fourth quarter was just awesome. It was fantastic.”

In other invitational action on Friday, Fremd defeated Naperville North 9-3 despite Huskies goals by Jillian Eiken, Sofi Prorok and Taylor Bridgman.

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