This is why you have teammates -- to help pick you up, especially in your absence.
A gutsy Conant girls water polo team had to do without its leading scorer in senior all-stater Olivia Olszewski for the last three quarters during the Cougars' 8-3 loss to New Trier in the quarterfinals of the state tournament held at Stevenson on Thursday night.
The Trevians move on to play Naperville North in the semifinals at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The girls' state title game is slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We took some stupid ejections but New Trier is a good team and really worked their man-ups," said Conant coach Justin Bikus, whose team finished 31-3 on the year. "Losing Olivia obviously hurt but our girls really stepped up and left it all in the pool."
Both teams traded punches in the first quarter to the tune of a 0-0 deadlock.
Then late in the first, Olszewski drew her third kick out, resulting in her ejection for the rest of the game.
"I think she was just a little amped up," said Bikus. "But our bench players did well and our future looks bright next year."
After the scoreless first, New Trier drew first blood when Leah Caywood fed Emily McKenzie for the 1-0 lead on a man-up situation.
Conant wasn't going anywhere, though.
Two-meter Abigail Hanley floated one past New Trier keeper Maddie Beacom for the equalizer with 1:55 left in the half.
New Trier (25-7) took the lead for good when it created some separation with 4 unanswered goals in the third and a 5-1 advantage.
Conant woke up in the fourth. After a pair of New Trier goals made it 7-1, Hanley fed 2-meter Sydney Arnold. That was followed by Sarah Erne dishing off to Arnold to cut the deficit to 7-3. New Trier then scored the final goal for the final margin of victory.
"We practice throwing to the posts on our man-up," said Trevians coach Matt Wendt. "And with their No. 12 (Olszewski) out, that changed the game. She's a wonderful player."
Cougars keeper Nicole Fisch played her heart out in goal, stopping 8 shots on the night.