Girls water polo: Haas, Stevenson meet quarterfinal challenge
Claire Haas isn't ready to start her career at USC just yet.
And it showed on Friday evening, as Stevenson's senior helped her top-ranked girls water polo teammates move one step closer to a state title by upending second-ranked Mother McAuley 12-9 in state quarterfinal action in Lincolnshire.
The Patriots next play Naperville North in the first semifinal of the day at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The winner advances to the championship matchup at 8 p.m.
"We're a very close team and just trust and are there for each other," said Haas, who finished with 5 goals, 6 steals, and 5 penalties drawn. "We were a little nervous but excited and just needed to settle in (after the first period). We really wanted this bad and didn't want it to end."
Haas was off on her shot in the first and Mother McAuley (31-3) took advantage by jumping to a 3-2 lead after the first quarter. Lauren Maloney and Amelia Eastman scored goals in the first -- and then it was game on. Eastman scored her second to cut it to 4-3 with 5:45 left in the half.
Then Haas and the defense buckled down, rattling the Mighty Macs as Eastman's tally started a string of 5 unanswered goals.
With the game tied 4-4 with 4:05 left in the half, Haas' hustle and putback of a Kalista Tapas bullet put the Pats in front for what turned out to be for good at 5-4.
Haas then had 2 beautiful assists to Maloney, and then to Tapas, as Stevenson led 7-5 at intermission.
Haas scored her fourth goal early in the third to make it 8-5. McAuley came back though with 2 to cut it to 8-7 heading to the final 7 minutes.
And right off the bat, Haas got another steal and converted 50 seconds into the fourth to make it a 2-goal lead (9-7).
McAuley closed to with in 9-8 a minute later but Stevenson answered right back as Maloney popped one in to make it 10-8.
McAuley got to with in 10-9 with 4:18 left in regulation but the Pats and keeper Anna Mossakowski took care of the rest.
Mossakowski blocked 16 shots for the game, including 2 huge saves with under three minutes to go to keep McAuley scoreless the rest of the way.
Haas had another rebound and putback on a man-up situation and then scored on a penalty shot 30 seconds later to make it 12-9 and help seal the victory for the defending champs.
Mossakowski ended up with 3 steals as well, while defensive specialist Eleanor Michaud collected 6 steals and dished out 2 assists.
Maloney finished with 4 goals, 1 assist and more importantly perhaps, 7 kick-outs.
"We kept our composure and kept attacking and driving," said Pats coach Jeff Wimer. "When we do that, it creates opportunities. And the girls are very intelligent players. We knew we were in for a battle. They (Mother McAuley) are physical and aggressive. We don't take anything or anyone for granted. One game at a time."