Girls water polo: Fenwick edges Naperville Central in OT

  • Naperville Central's girls water polo team displays the state runner-up trophy to its fans in the stands above following an OT loss to Fenwick in Saturday's state final at Stevenson.

      Naperville Central's girls water polo team displays the state runner-up trophy to its fans in the stands above following an OT loss to Fenwick in Saturday's state final at Stevenson. Aaron Gabriel | Staff Photographer

  • The high school girls water polo state championship trophy and medals, before their presentation Saturday night at Stevenson.

      The high school girls water polo state championship trophy and medals, before their presentation Saturday night at Stevenson. Aaron Gabriel | Staff Photographer

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/21/2016 11:13 PM

Hold your heads high, Naperville Central.

It might sting a little right now, but the Redhawks gave powerhouse Fenwick all it could handle in a 13-12 overtime loss for the girls water polo state title on Saturday evening in Lincolnshire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fenwick looked like it might pull away after grabbing an 8-4 lead with 3:52 left in the second period.

But the Redhawks, who finished the season 31-4, showed resiliency like they have all spring.

"We definitely battled and got great performances out of who we needed to," said coach Jeff Plackett, whose team has now been runner-up three times. "This has been a fun group and I'm so proud of the girls."

Speaking of great performances, senior 2-meter Kaela Codo, junior utility Anne Marie Gunn and junior 2-meter Emily Westlove all scored 3 goals apiece.

Trailing 11-10 with 1:03 left in regulation, Gunn fed junior utility player Alli Hansen for the equalizer and an overtime session awaited.

Both teams traded punches in the first three minutes. After Fenwick scored to take a 12-11 lead, the Redhawks came right back to tie it again at 12-12 when junior utility Emily Rodgers dished to junior utility Alli Hansen Hansen with 2:28 left in the session.

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Defense was at a premium in the second three-minute session, but it was Fenwick who found the back of the net with 1:14 left for what turned out to be the clincher and the Friars' ninth state title.

"We never gave up," said senior keeper Faith Vandercar, who was busy in goal making numerous spectacular saves. She finished with 15 on the evening, many of which kept the Redhawks close.

"A lot of people thought we might not be able to beat them (Fenwick). But I'm so proud of the team. We gave it everything we had for it being the last time in the pool this season. We do a great job feeding off of each other."

After receiving a pass from Rodgers, Hansen's second goal was also crucial as it tied things up at 12-12 with 2:28 left in the first three minute period of OT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Also getting into the scoring was senior utility player Jennifer Oliver, who wrestled the ball away from the Fenwick keeper. Her goal was huge as well as it tied the game at 3-3 with 1:20 left in the opening frame.

Naperville Central loses six seniors to graduation: Codo, Oliver, Vandercar, and utility players Abbey Rosenstiel, Angie Benton, and Caroline Aemmer.

"We have a good core coming back," added Plackett. "But that's what's so fun and exciting about high school sports."

• Defending state champ Stevenson had another amazing run this season but came up a little short in the quest to repeat. Instead, the Pats still went out with a bang in settling for third-place after upending Mother McAuley 9-4 in the consolation game.

"I'm ecstatic and so proud of the girls," said Pats coach Jeff Wimer. "I think we were a little drained mentally and physically from the Fenwick game earlier in the day, but we finished strong."

Senior utility player and the state's all-time leading scorer Allison Travetto capped off a brilliant career. She netted 2 goals against McAuley, as did senior utility Tanya Shkiler, sophomore attacker Eileen Hoang, and freshman utility Lauren Maloney. Sophomore attacker Ameila Eastman also found the back of the net to round out the scoring for the Pats, who finished 33-2.

"It was a great run. We have a close senior class and after losing earlier to Fenwick, we did what we had to do," said Travetto, who finished with 226 goals this spring.

And senior Lauren Burns showed why she is one of the best keepers in the state, stopping 19 McAuley shots.

Stevenson's season included many milestones, including a 47-game win streak dating back to last spring that was halted by Fenwick in March. Burns also had a game this spring where she stopped a state record 26 shots. And over the last two seasons, the team has recorded a 70-2 mark.

Speaking of Fenwick, the Pats dropped a 9-7 decision in the semifinals earlier in the day.

Travetto had 4 goals, while single goals were netted by Eastman, junior attacker Fiona Gaffney, and Maloney.

"There were some tears after that game," said Wimer. "The girl's wanted the title bad, but I said that's life. And they went out and finished with pride and dignity and for the seniors."

Stevenson looks strong yet again for next season when it loses only six seniors. Along with Travetto, starter Shkiler, attackers Holly Wegener, Rachel Thomashow, Carolina Bohorquez, and of course Burns will be graduating in the next couple of weeks.

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