Girls water polo: Olszewski's 6 goals help Conant down St. Viator for sectional title
Following Conant's 9-6 win over St. Viator in the girls water polo sectional final at Conant Saturday afternoon, Cougars' senior Olivia Olszewski proudly held up the championship plaque. The wins secures a spot at the state finals that begin Thursday at Stevenson. The Cougars will play New Trier at 8:15 p.m.
It will be the fourth time in the last five years that Conant has gone to the state finals.
"It's an amazing feeling," said Olszewski. "It was nice to be the first to hold the sectional trophy."
Olszewski earned the right by scoring 6 goals in the win over the third-seeded Lions (24-6).
Olszewski helped the top-seeded Cougars (31-2) get on the right track. Her steal and score with 5:45 left in the first period is just want Conant needed.
"The steal and score was a great way to start the game," said Olszewski. "By scoring the first goal it helped get our confidence going."
St. Viator countered on Zoe Green's goal with 4:29 left in the period to tie the score at 1-1.
Junior Sydeney Arnold gave Conant the lead for good with 33 seconds left in the period on a loft shot and followed that with another loft with 3:10 left in the second quarter for a 3-1 lead.
Arnold pointed out that the Cougars had to keep St. Viator's Ritarose Battin, Green, and Julie Warren in check.
"We had to make sure that the ball didn't get into the middle for them," said Arnold. "It was important to try to shut them down."
Olszewski made it 4-1 on a penalty shot before Julie Warren, who would score 2 goals, made the score 4-2. Olszewski and the Lions' Beth Warren then exchanged goals just before halftime, which saw Conant lead 5-3.
The Cougars opened up an 8-4 lead by outscoring the Lions 3-1 in the third period.
The final period saw Olszewski score her sixth goal.
The Lions found Green and Julie Warren scoring their second goals.
"Olszewski and Arnold played awesome for them," said St. Viator coach Lisa Taylor. "I think they will do well in the state finals. Our girls this season have really helped turn around our program. They were excited to play in the sectional final."
"This was just great to win this title in our own pool," said Conant coach Justin Bickus. "I think we could have shot better overall. Going into the state finals I know we'll be an underdog. We just need to play better than we played this weekend. We've got a few days to get ready for the finals. I'm confident in our ability. This team knows how to handle high stress situations."
Arnold feels if the Cougars keep their focus on defense they can make a good impression next weekend.
"I'm really excited to go again and to try to keep the legacy going," said Arnold. "We know that we have to keep our focus on getting good position on defense and keeping teams out of the middle. We have to play as a team and cut down on our mistakes."