Barrington senior Catherine Byron, one of three all-conference selections from the Fillies' girls water polo team this spring, knows what she likes about the game.
"Water polo is great because it's so much more of a real team sport," said Byron, who also has been a swimmer in the fall at Barrington. "You get to really enjoy your teammates. Going through all of this together with them has been awesome."
Most enjoyable of all: Being a conference champion.
The host Fillies wrapped up their first Mid-Suburban League title since 2007 on Wednesday by turning back a determined team from Hersey 8-6.
Coach Mark Markwell credited team unity for everything his team has achieved thing this spring.
"We're a wamily," he explained. "Water polo, plus family ... wamily. Anything that goes well, it's not about one person, any one individual. This is a team where everyone is looking out for one another. Everybody's got each other's back."
Balanced scoring helped Barrington prevail, as senior all-conference picks Lisa Danhauer and Kelly Meckert had 2 goals apiece. Sam Gavars also had 2 goals, and Byron and Rachael Scardino had 1 each. Byron also had 2 assists.
It might not have been such a close game, but Hersey all-conference goalie Natalie Curtis (9 saves) was stellar both in turning back shots and leaving the goal in pursuit of loose balls.
"Hersey was a division champ, too, so we expected a great game and they gave us one," Markwell said. "We knew (Curtis) was one of their better players, and that showed today."
Katie Lutz scored first for Hersey before Barrington got a pair of goals to lead after one quarter 2-1. Byron later scored scored on a breakaway, and the second of Meckert's goals on a man-up situation put Barrington in front 5-2 before a surprise shot from Hersey just after the restart went in to finish the first-half scoring.
After Hersey drew within 5-4 with 5:41 left in the third, Barrington produced two more goals and managed to stay in control the rest of the way.
Lutz led Hersey (12-11) with 2 goals. The Huskies' others game from Karolina Szymaszek, Emily Goldsberry, Hannah Lippstreuer and Katie Lindholm.
In the end, a slight swimming advantage to Barrington seemed to be about the only major difference between the teams. Hersey was making its first-ever appearance in the MSL championship and certainly belonged there.
"We'd watched some film of Barrington, and they did about what we expected them to," said Hersey coach Megan Brownley. "I thought we mostly did a good job, but man-up hurt us. Barrington had been outscoring everybody from the conference by like 10, 11 goals, so it was good to stay with them."
Barrington scored three times with a one-player advantage. Maddi Burell made 3 stops in goal for the Filies (22-3).
The all-conference players honored before the game:
Barrington: Catherine Byron (Sr.), Lisa Danhauer (Sr.), Kelly Meckert (Sr.)
Buffalo Grove: Callie Fasching (Sr.)
Conant: Angie Skittone (Jr.)
Elk Grove: Kathryn Noonan (Sr.), Alexa Zajac (Sr.)
Fremd: Tori Boldt (Sr.), Mandy Borre (Sr.), Samantha DiCanio (Jr.)
Hersey: Natalie Curtis (Jr.), Karolina Szymaszek (Sr.), Jillian Hoffman (Jr.)
Palatine: Rachel Chumbook (Jr), Caroline Wojtas (So.)
Prospect: Kallie Shields (Sr.), Mary Schiavone (Jr.)
Rolling Meadows: Jessica Dykstra (Sr.)
Schaumburg: Jessica Sumsky (Sr.)
Wheeling: Kat Dobrowski (Sr.), Theresa Godlewski (So.)