Girls water polo: Maine West tops the field at Hoffman, but Magnolia Tree the real winner
Maine West bested six tough opponents Saturday to win the Hoffman Estates girls water polo tournament.
The Warriors won all three of their matches to take the title, but the real winner on the day was the Magnolia Tree Foundation.
The tourney was a fundraiser for Magnolia Tree, which is an organization whose mission is to educate and provide financial assistance to those affected by the BRCA genetic mutation.
The third annual invite was played in honor of former Hoffman Estates player Alexa Rodheim-Cutler, who passed away in 2016 after a courageous battle with triple negative breast cancer. She was also a teacher and water polo coach at Elk Grove High School.
"The kids love this tournament because it's bigger than the game," said Hoffman coach Chris Fetterman. "That's one of the things I want to teach them. To be able to play for something bigger than what they're doing in the moment is important -- they appreciate playing so much more because of that, and raising so much money for the foundation."
"The Rodheim family is very supportive. They're great people and we appreciate everything that they do."
The final game of Saturday's round-robin turned out to be a match for the championship, and it pitted the Warriors against host Hoffman.
But Maine West took all the drama out of the title game by scoring a 15-2 win.
Olivia Loewes led the Warriors with 8 goals in the crown-clinching win.
"What I really like in the game against Hoffman was that we played as a team," said Warriors coach Drew Schneider. "That's something that I've been stressing lately, and they did that today and saw how powerful that can be."
"We listened to each other today, we listened to our coaches, and had great chemistry," said Maine West junior Meg Casiple. "Even though we're sort of a very young team -- a lot of the girls on our team are up from junior varsity last year -- it's amazing to see how much we've grown."
Warren scored a win in its final game of the day, 7-6 over Niles West.
"My team worked so hard," said Blue Devils sophomore Jessica Oehlerking. "We picked it up and worked so well together. We played tight defense the entire day and our shots were amazing. I want to thank my coaches for pushing us through practice and getting us ready for this tournament."
"A couple of years ago we couldn't have been playing teams the caliber of the ones here today like this," said Warren coach Sarah Zink, whose program is just in its third year of competition. "Even though our record today wasn't what we wanted it to be, we're very happy with the progress the girls are making. Winning the final game was a great way to end it today. The girls were tired but I'm proud of them for playing through."
The Blue Devils were led on the day by Oehlerking, who scored 8 goals, while teammate Anna Erpenbeck added 6 goals and Elia Tapia-Gomez produced 5 assists.
Nicole Terzian, who had 20 saves on goal on the day, was "simply amazing" according to Oehlerking.
Fremd scored 2 wins in the tourney, while host Hoffman tallied victories over Vernon Hills, Warren and Andrew before falling short against Maine West.
Senior Benita Varanauskaite scored 6 goals and had 9 steals and 5 assists for the Hawks, while Elena Arias had 16 goals and senior Abigail Fuscone posted 12 steals.
"Overall we played well," said Arias. "We were very satisfied with the first three games. Obviously the last one didn't go the way we planned but we did our best."
And the best is what all competitors put forth Saturday for the benefit of Magnolia Tree.
"We played today in Alexa Rodheim's honor," said Arias.
"Alexa graduated in 2004," added Fetterman, "and I had the privilege of coaching her. As her former coach I was fortunate enough to put together this invite with really competitive teams. It's a lot of fun and we try to raise as much money we can for the organization."