Strong start for defending state champ Stevenson

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/9/2019 9:06 PM
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  • Vernon Hills' Allie Pappas fires the ball as Hoffman Estates' Ak Hughes applies pressure during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday.

      Vernon Hills' Allie Pappas fires the ball as Hoffman Estates' Ak Hughes applies pressure during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Anna Richey fires towards the goal as Andrew's Ella Lim defends during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday.

      Warren's Anna Richey fires towards the goal as Andrew's Ella Lim defends during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's goalie Nicole Terzian defends as Andrew's Claudia Mietus fires one at her during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday.

      Warren's goalie Nicole Terzian defends as Andrew's Claudia Mietus fires one at her during the Hoffman Estates girls water polo invite on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

The Stevenson girls water polo team kicked off the new season in fine fashion, going 3-0 in its own quad on Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire.

Dating back almost a year ago to the day, that makes 35 wins in a row for the two-time defending state champs.

"We know there's a little pressure and that we've got a target on our back," Patriots senior utility Lauren Maloney said. "But we know how to handle it. Today we played well as a team. We have a lot of chemistry."

In the marquee matchup of the morning, patience was a virtue as Stevenson upended fifth-ranked Lyons 12-6. Lyons handed Stevenson its only loss last season, and that came in the season-opening quad.

"(Lyons) is a very strong team," said Maloney, who scored 6 goals in the win. "We have a lot of younger players, but everyone was eager and excited to get back in the water today."

Maloney and junior utility Shreya Sreedhar came up with key steals after Lyons cut its deficit to 8-6 after the third period. The Patriots showed that patience on offense as well with several touches.

"We showed a lot of patience and have a good mixture of experience and a bunch of hungry younger girls," Stevenson coach Jeff Wimer said. "After watching the big girls (last season), many of them are ready to step up and be big girls now."

Sreedhar popped in 3 goals to complement Maloney, while senior Kalista Tapas added a pair of goals. Patriots senior keeper and three-year varsity player Anna Mossakowski stopped 5 shots in the Lyons win. The offense also outshot Lyons 24-14.

In a 17-2 victory over Palatine, the offense was spread out with nine players finding the scoring column. Anna Gates had the hat trick. Hanna Cloeter, Tapas, Maddy O'Donnell, Maloney, Alena Bardic and Maddie Meirhaeghe each scored twice.

Mossakowski stopped 7 shots, while dishing out 3 assists.

Tapas and Maloney each scored 5 goals in Stevenson's 18-2 victory over Lincoln-Way East. Maria Mossakowski and Sreedhar each hat tricks. Eleanor Michaud and Cloeter added a goal apiece, and Anna Mossakowski stopped 12 shots.

The Mossakowski sisters, Sreedhar and sophomore JV player Maggie Bauwens will all be in California next week for Olympic Development.

Palatine went 0-3 but coach Mitch Tucker saw many positives.

"We're really young with no seniors and a few girls that have never played," Tucker said.

Last year, the Pirates scored only 1 goal over the 3 games. This year, they scored eight.

"I was happy with what I saw," Tucker said. "Our attitude is positive as we try and build back."

Palatine sophomore utility Maggie O'Brien had the only two goals in a 17-2 loss to Stevenson. Keeper Elena Brewer had 2 blocks in the losing effort.

In a 17-3 loss to Lyons, Brewer scored twice. Joanna Rataj had a goal as well.

"(O'Brien) is tenacious and has a bright future," said Tucker.

Palatine fell to Lincoln-Way East 13-3 in its final game. O'Brien's third-quarter goal ruined the shutout. She scored again later, as did Sonia Hollis.

Brewer had made some nice saves in the second period when the Palatine defense held Lincoln-Way East to just one goal.

At Hoffman Estates: 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."

-- Bill Esbrook

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