Girls water polo: Stevenson turns back Mundelein in key NSC matchup
The biggest fish won't be fried for a few more weeks, when the high school girls water polo state series begins.
So for now, it's about supremacy in the conference -- where the Stevenson girls have had a stronghold in the North Suburban for the past five years.
But Mundelein and coach Mike Vukovics, who played water polo in grade school under Pats coach Jeff Wimer, came calling Tuesday night in Lincolnshire with the conference title on the line as both squads were 3-0 coming in.
Mundelein (15-7, 3-1), winners in 11 of its last 12 games, put up a good fight against the state's top-ranked team before coming up short, 17-6.
"We got off to a strong start on offense and just let our defense take over from there," said senior all-stater and USC-bound attacker Claire Haas, who poured in 8 goals on the evening. "Defense wins championships, but we still have a lot to work on. We're jelling, though. Our main goal is to have everyone shooting and scoring."
While Haas led the way in scoring, six other players found the scoring column, which bodes well -- especially with the postseason fast approaching.
"We have a very seasoned team with a lot of weapons and girls that can score," said Pats coach Jeff Wimer, whose team has won 14 straight while improving to 16-1. "We don't take anyone lightly. Mundelein has been playing well and they have a great coach (Mike Vukovics)."
Ella Krauss guarded Haas most of the evening and felt Mundelein could have produced a better showing.
"We fought until the end but I don't think we left it all out there," said Krauss, who punched in 3 goals. "We've really been working on mental preparation and believing that we can prevail, even when we're the underdog. We just need to communicate more and work as a unit."
Goals by Eleanor Michaud and Amelia Eastman got the Pats off and running in the first couple of minutes.
Mundelein, ranked No. 12 in the state, showed it meant business after Adry Kasemets' goal cut the deficit in half.
But Eileen Hoang, Kalista Tapas and Haas scored 3 unanswered goals to create some separation at 5-1 after the first.
Krauss popped in two of her goals in the second, but Haas found her range as well by answering with 4 more goals to help the hosts pull ahead 11-3 at the break.
Haas finished her scoring in the third with the hat trick, while Krauss scored her third of the game and Cayce Parker added a lob shot from about 25 feet that snuck past the outstretched arms of Pats keeper Val Zlotnikova (7 saves). Zlotnikova got the start in place of Anna Mossakowski, who was on a college visit to Brown University.
Meanwhile, Mustangs keeper Hannah Stanley (11 saves) made some incredible saves throughout the game, including on a couple of point-blank shots by Haas.
"We learned some things about ourselves tonight," said Vukovics, who team travels to St. Viator on Thursday. "We need everyone doing their role, and we need multiple players scoring."
Michaud did a nice job in defending Mundelein's leading scorer and George Washington University commit Abbie Lukas. Tapas led the Pats defense with 5 steals while Hoang dished out 5 assists.
The North Suburban Sportsmanship Award also honored Stevenson's Brigitte Lefebvre and Mundelein's Carolyn Westgate.