Stevenson right on target after topping Lyons
A state championship and undefeated 36-0 season a year ago.
Safe to say, there's a bit of a target on the backs of the Stevenson girls water polo team. But it's a position the Patriots are used to and gladly accept.
"Last year is history so today was the beginning of these girls making their own mark," Stevenson coach Jeff Wimer said. "Our team works hard in the off-season and is so seasoned. They aren't fazed by anything, which simply comes from playing a lot."
Stevenson looked in midseason form in cruising to a 3-0 record in their quadrangular with Lyons, Wheeling and Palatine on Saturday in Lincolnshire.
The marquee matchup of the morning pitted the hosts against Lyons, which finished fourth at state last spring. It was Stevenson's defense that shined down the stretch in a 9-8 win.
"We kept our composure and played excellent defense to finish the game," Wimer said.
With Lyons penetrating, sophomore utility player Claire Haas came up with a huge steal with 11 seconds left in regulation to help preserve the win. Sophomore defender Eileen Hoang was also tenacious on defense in the third period when she thwarted numerous drives to the tune of 4 of her 8 steals for the game.
Stevenson senior attacker Allison Travetto scored a school-record 189 goals last season to become the Patriots' all-time scoring leader. Against Lyons, Travetto and Haas each scored 4 goals.
"We're a little young but we're learning to work together," said Travetto, who will play college water polo next year at Long Beach State. "It's not going to be easy (winning state again), by any means. We just need to prove it by doing it again."
Stevenson sophomore Brigitte Lefebvre did an excellent job in goal filling in for senior Lauren Burns, a Brown University commit who was in California at an Olympic Development Program for a national team tryout.
Lefebvre stopped 5 crucial shots in helping keep Lyons at bay.
In the first match of the morning, Travetto poured in 9 goals on 9-of-12 shooting to help the Pats to a 23-2 victory over Palatine. Haas complemented her with 4 goals, while Lefebvre stopped 5 shots in goal.
Travetto then tallied 5 more goals on 5-of-5 shooting, and Lefebvre made 7 saves as the Patriots cruised to a 17-3 decision over Wheeling.
Palatine senior attacker Mathilde Mogensen scored both of the Pirates' goals against Stevenson.
"Speed is a big strength for us," said Pirates coach Mitch Tucker, whose team fell in the sectionals finals last year. "Our practice time has been cut way down because our pool is under construction. So it's going to be a little bit of an uphill battle, but we'll be OK."
Palatine (1-2, 1-4) then dropped a 5-2 decision to Lyons, despite goals from seniors Tess O'Brien and Kelsey Hank.
The Pirates posted their first win, 10-5, over Wheeling. Mogensen scored 5 goals and junior attacker Katelyn Kurrie added a pair. Palatine junior goalie Meghan Woell had 5 saves.
"We played much better defense, we communicated, and our spacing and positioning was much better," Tucker said.
Wheeling went 0-3, but there were some positives for the Wildcats.
"We're small but we're pleased with how we played," said coach Bob Savitt, whose Wildcats lost in the sectional semis last year. "Defense is most important for us and the offense will follow."
Wheeling senior co-captain and all-purpose player Argelia Diaz scored all 3 goals in the 15-3 loss to Lyons. Diaz added 2 more goals in a 17-3 loss to Stevenson, while Holly Schroeder scored a pair of goals in the Wildcats' 10-5 loss to Palatine.
Wheeling was missing two key players in attacker Thalia Khan and starting keeper Elizabeth Wargo, both of whom were attending concert band nationals. Morgan Engerbretson and Megan Hergert filled in creditably.
"It's great playing these teams early," Savitt said. "They're so good and we can really learn from getting our butts kicked."