Big finish sends Stevenson past St. Ignatius

 
By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/21/2015 8:30 PM

Nerves? Coming out flat?

Whatever the reason, the early portions of Thursday's girls water polo state quarterfinals involving host Stevenson and St. Ignatius were not kind to the host Patriots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We started out rough,'' said Stevenson coach Jeff Wimer. "The first half was pretty ugly."

Wimer was talking about his 33-0 Patriots, a team that won the Buffalo Grove sectional by a total score of 51-9. How in the heck was this team nervous?

Perhaps the opponent had something to do with it. The last three seasons, the Wolfpack had been to the state tournament and placed third, first and second a year ago. And the only loss this season for Ignatius was against Stevenson, back in late April by the score of 8-6.

The Pats trailed 4-1 early in the second period. And with one quarter to play the Wolfpack led 7-6 -- but they didn't score again.

Stevenson (34-0) received 2 fourth-quarter goals from leading scorer Allison Travetto. Senior Melissa Gartenberg also tallied. The Pats erased the St. Ignatius lead and remained unbeaten with a 9-7 win.

"We knew we had to come back,'' Gartenberg said. "We just came out a bit stronger in the fourth quarter."

Stevenson advanced to Saturday morning's semifinals to play Fenwick, an 11-7 winner over Naperville Central.

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High-scoring Stevenson had not been held to single digits in scoring until its 22nd win of the season. However, scoring was sluggish in the early going.

Travetto had the lone goal on the first quarter. Both Travetto and Gartenberg tallied in the second quarter, but the Pats still trailed 4-3 at halftime.

"It was nerves,'' Wimer said. "It was the tension of the state tourney. These are still high school girls. But it shows this team's character. They never gave up. And then we shut them out in the fourth quarter.''

Travetto led the Pats in scoring with 5 goals.

"We were nervous from the start and fell behind,'' Travetto said. "It was a shock for us. But we have worked so hard for this."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In this physical game, both teams were penalized. Stephania Lopez scored on the first penalty shot of the afternoon and her Wolfpack led 4-1. Travetto also scored that way, cutting the Wolfpack lead to 6-4 early in the third quarter.

"Once the third quarter ended, we said this (the fourth quarter) is our quarter,'' Travetto said. "We've been waiting for this for four years."

Despite the hard play, there was quite a bit of respect between these two teams.

"St. Ignatius has a phenomenal program,'' Wimer said. "Mike Cashman is an incredible coach. I actually coached Mike in an all-star game."

It was still anyone's game heading to the final quarter. Travetto knotted the game with a goal at the 6:37 mark. Her go-ahead goal came with 2.5 minutes to play in spite of an heroic effort from St. Ignatius goalie Jennifer Stelnicki.

Gartenberg's goal 20 seconds later pretty much iced the match.

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