Perfect finish to Stevenson's dream season
Senior utility player Melissa Gartenberg yelled out in jubilation, which was promptly followed by a big exhalation.
Safe to say, the wait was over as everything came to a head Saturday evening at Stevenson.
"I don't know what to say except the mission is complete," Gartenberg said after the Stevenson girls water polo team put the exclamation point on a perfect 36-0 season with an 11-3 victory over New Trier in the state championship game. "I'm so speechless right now. This feels so good. We've worked so hard for this."
Gartenberg, one of nine seniors on the team, was the Patriots' leader in assists this season and dished out three against the Trevians. She was also second in scoring on the team and had 2 goals in the title game. Gartenberg will attend Arizona State University in the fall, where she will try make to the water polo team as a walk-on.
Meanwhile, the Pats' leading scorer, junior utility player Allison Travetto, had a monster game, scoring 6 goals and assisting on another. She finished the season with 168 goals.
"I'm so overwhelmed with emotion right now and can't believe it's over," she said. "Our motto was 'one team, one dream,' and we did it."
Gartenberg opened the scoring right out of the gates. Attacker Autumn Hoang fed Travetto for the second goal of the game. Autumn Hoang then assisted utility player Claire Hass, as Stevenson built a 4-1 lead after the opening stanza.
The Pats led 6-3 at halftime after second-period goals by Travetto and attacker Alex Adams, both unassisted.
In the second half, the Patriot defense stiffened and held New Trier scoreless over the final 14 minutes.
"Our defense was stifling," said scruffy-faced coach Jeff Wimer, who started a playoff beard around Mother's Day but promised to shave in the morning. "This is incredible, though. It's been a long road, and all of the hard work has paid off."
Travetto scored her third goal of the game in the third period, as Stevenson extended its lead to 7-3. The Pats put things out of reach by scoring four more times in the last period. Travetto scored three, while Gartenberg converted a penalty shot. Senior attacker Annika Hotchkiss and Gartenberg assisted two of Travetto's scores.
Junior keeper Lauren Burns brought her "A" game.
"Best goalie in the state," Wimer said.
In the title game, Burns was leaping and jumping all over. She stopped numerous close-range shots to the tune of 10 saves.
The Pats had earned a trip to the finals earlier in the day by making easy work of Fenwick 18-4 in the semis. Travetto went wild in scoring 8 goals, while Hotchkiss and Autumn Hoang each scored a hat trick. Burns was solid again in goal stopping 12 shots.
Besides Gartenberg, Hotchkiss, Adams and Autumn Hoang, other seniors who will be departing include defender Erin Kempers and attackers Delaney Weiland, Jordyn Landau, Cristina Spizzirri and Joanie Newland.
"This season and winning state is so huge for the returning players," said Gartenberg. "The bar has been set and they know they can do it."
The state title was the fourth overall for Stevenson this school year, joining football, boys basketball and boys gymnastics.