Girls water polo: Hersey holds off Buffalo Grove's rally
Hersey goalie Claire Lutz played at a high level Wednesday night at Buffalo Grove.
The Huskies' senior made clutch save after clutch save the entire contest, not the least of which came in the final two minutes.
Hersey fell behind, got the lead late, then held off a wild BG rally to score a 6-5 Mid-Suburban East girls water polo win.
"Going in to this game, we were all fired up," said Lutz, as both teams came into the match with 4-0 division records.
"We were very, very excited. Being a goalie is difficult, especially in a game like this which was close. But It's like my coaches tell me -- just keep going, every play is a new play. My motto is 'it's not over until it's over -- just keep fighting.' "
"Overall, our team has a huge desire to win," added Huskies senior driver/wing Grace Prior. "There was a lot of emotion going into the game."
BG (9-3, 4-1) had the upper hand in the first half. Stefanie Surdyka scored 3 goals for the Bison before intermission and teammate Caitlyn Conroy added another as the Bison led at halftime 4-3.
Hersey (10-2, 5-0) countered in the first two periods with goals from Ashley DaSilva, Emily Born off an assist from Prior, and Annie Lindgren.
"I think that as a team we've grown a lot this season," said BG coach Michael McPartlin. "Hersey is obviously very tough, but our girls were playing great, especially on defense."
Hersey took control in the third quarter on goals by Prior and Lindgren, then Lutz kept holding off the Bison in the fourth turning away shot after shot.
"We were making some mistakes in the first half," said Lucy Bornhorst of Hersey. "We corrected those in the second half."
Hope Fenwick of Hersey gave the Huskies some breathing room on a goal with 2:36 remaining in the game, then BG's Cecilia Carlson scored with under a minute remaining to make it 6-5, setting up a fast and furious final 51 seconds.
First the Huskies' defense held off a BG scoring attempt, then the Bison took control of the ball back with about a half a minute left -- and although some of her teammates called the final moments "nerve-wracking," Prior said she knew her team would come through.
"Honestly, at that point I was pretty serene," said Prior. "I trust my teammates. We're all sisters. It's definitely a sisterhood on this team. Our fate was in each other's hands and I knew we could do it."
Lutz made her final save off a long BG shot with 25 ticks remaining, and BG wouldn't get another chance thereafter.
"We've had some success running a little bit of a pick play," said McPartlin of his squad's final possession, "from the center position out to one of the wings. We had a nice opportunity but ran out of time at the end.
"We got ourselves in a little bit of foul trouble tonight, but I'm really happy with the way our girls played."
Born put forth a strong effort on the defensive end for the Huskies and Lutz, who will enroll at the University of Alabama in the fall with a major in special education, said that the support of her teammates helped her excel Wednesday.
"I was a little worried there at the end (when BG closed to within 1), " said Lutz. "I was expecting shots from any angle at any time. But then my teammate, number 11, Annie Lindgren, turned to me and said, 'it's going to be OK, we got this'. That reassurance definitely helped me, and I knew I could make the saves. When it came right down to it I knew we could do it."