Girls water polo: Stevenson rolls past Mundelein, back to state
Defense wins championships.
And Stevenson not only has that, it has plenty of offense as well.
The Patriots used 45 steals for the game in coming away with a 19-4 victory over Mundelein in the Buffalo Grove sectional girls water polo title game Saturday.
It was the sixth sectional title in a row for the Patriots, who stayed unblemished at 32-0 and are ranked No. 1 in Illinois.
Stevenson will begin its quest for a third-straight state championship on Thursday when it takes on St. Ignatius in the state quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. in the Patriots' own pool.
"A lot of our offense starts with defense," said Stevenson senior attacker Lauren Maloney, who scored 6 goals on the day to accompany 9 steals.
"Our team atmosphere is incredible. Give Mundelein credit. They are a strong, aggressive team with some good shooters."
The upstart Mustangs ignited the crowd by scoring first when Adry Kasemets got one past Pats keeper Anna Mossakowski for a quick 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the game.
It must have made Stevenson mad because the Pats proceeded to roll off 8 unanswered goals and an 8-1 lead after the opening act.
"We needed that little wake-up call after they (Mundelein) scored first," added Maloney, the team leader with over 125 goals this season.
Maloney ripped off 4 of her 6 goals in the first, while Kalista Tapas had a hat trick and Shreya Sreedhar one score.
"Their counter and defense are really good and they have the experience," said Mustangs coach Mike Vukovics, who returns all but three seniors next year. "The good news is our numbers have gone up drastically, but we just need to get in the pool more and get more experience."
The Pats picked up right where they left off in the second, rolling off 4 unanswered goals to take a 12-1 lead.
Off Maloney's steal, Eleanor Michaud scored to make it 9-1. Then keeper Mossakowski heaved one to Sreedhar for a score, while Maloney scored again and Anna Gates also scored after a steal by Alena Bardic.
Kasemets added her second goal but Maloney answered abruptly with her fifth goal to make it 13-2.
Cayce Parker then scored on a penalty shot for the Mustangs to cut it to 13-3. But Stevenson rolled off two more goals for a 15-3 advantage after Elizabeth White and Elizabeth Matlin found the back of the net.
Sydney Bradshaw then scored for Mundelein making it 15-4 at the end of the third.
In the final frame, Michaud assisted Tapas, followed by two more goals by Sreedhar making it 18-4.
Stevenson scored the final goal of the game when White dished one off to Matlin.
Like Maloney, Michaud ended up with 9 steals. Sreedhar had five and Maddy O'Donnell four.
Mossakowski (1 save) and Maggie Bauwens (3 saves) split time in goal for Stevenson, while Mundelein keeper Hannah Stanley finished with 7 saves.
"I'm so proud of our seniors (Ella Krauss, Angela Kordik, Cayce Parker)," said Vukovics. "They will be missed very much."
Mundelein will return defensive specialist Jackie Spencer in addition to standout Kasemets, keeper Stanley and Jenn Lopez, who just finished her first season playing polo.
"We're on the right path. The girls we have coming back are already excited about next year. They're hooked on polo. And our leadership looks great."