Naperville North water polo star Taylor Bridgman described her team's first--half play Wednesday night against St. Charles North as "sleepy."
Unfortunately for the visiting North Stars (9-2), the Huskies woke up and played a superb second half to break away from a 4-3 lead after two quarters to defeat St. Charles North 9-4.
Bridgman, who tallied 47 goals last season, scored on the night's opening possession and then added a penalty shot for a quick 2-0 lead for Naperville North (7-2). But St. Charles North drew even at 3-3 and trailed by just one goal at the half.
"They came out strong and to be honest we didn't expect that," said Bridgman, who finished the night with 3 goals. "But definitely defense was the key. By the second half we were pressing a lot harder and being more physical. In the first half we were a little sleepy and couldn't figure out our groove."
After the North Stars drew even at 3-3 on a goal by Maddie Jones set up by Sarah Stern, the match was tied with 5:48 left in the second quarter. But freshman Katie Horn scored the first of her 4 goals to put the Huskies ahead for good with 1:40 left in the half, and the lead was 8-3 after Horn added two more strikes in a third quarter dominated by Naperville North.
"I think the girls got tired and they played some good defense," St. Charles North coach Nick Engel said explaining how a 4-3 deficit turned into a 9-3 game before the North Stars' Kennedi Norris scored on a rebound in the final two minutes of the night. "A lot of my girls are still learning, and one way to grow is when you get beat by a good team."
Stern anchored the North Stars defense and goalie Hannah Horsfall made a number of tough saves to keep things close. But in the end the Huskies were just too tough. Freshman Taylor Stoner had a pair of goals as 6 of Naperville North's tallies came from rookies, while the veteran Bridgman was solid on both ends and fellow senior Kim Lechowicz also shined on the defensive end.
"At halftime we talked about momentum. We pushed momentum more in our favor in the second half and created those opportunities in the second half," Huskies coach Andy McWhirter said. "We've got a young team but great leadership on defense with our seniors, Taylor and Kim. We do a pretty good job of shutting teams down."
For St. Charles North, Nicole Guyett and Megan Calabrese also notched goals to round out the scoring.