Scouting Fox girls water polo
St. Charles East's girls water polo team graduated 5 members from last year's squad that finished 21-8.
"We had a great season and great group of girls last year, as we do this year, however, we have a very young team this year," said Saints coach Stephanie Ter Bush. "With that said, I believe that with hard work and dedication, our team can do just as well.
"The start of our season has been great. We had a very small team last year and this year we have almost doubled in numbers."
The Saints return seniors Ally Tarpey (utility), Hannah Wojdyla (goalie), and juniors Olivia Furmanek (wing/driver) and Julia Zenz (utility), while welcoming junior Alivia St. Clair and freshman Olivia Kennedy as varsity newcomers.
St. Charles North, ranked 10th in the preseason poll, is coming off a successful 24-8 season and returns senior Emma Allamian (attacker), juniors Ellie Hamilton (center), Sam Malone (goalie), and sophomores Zoe Rutishauser (attacker) and Lilly Weisner (center defender).
Hamilton and Weisner are competing in the Olympic Development Program's national championship.
"We are a young team that has worked extremely hard in the off-season," said North Stars coach George Mitchell. "They did a nice job and were committed to getting better during the winter club season. There was a lot of growth and development."
The North Stars, who open their home season Thursday against Lincoln-Way Central, figure to be battle-tested by season's end with a schedule that includes defending state runner-up Naperville North and third-place finisher Mother McAuley.
"We continue to seek out and compete against top tier teams," said Mitchell. "Our goal is to continue to play quality teams and regardless of the outcome, we want to learn and grow."
Top teams: Stevenson, Naperville North, Fenwick, New Trier, Mother McAuley, Lincoln-Way East, Naperville Central, Lyons Township, Conant, St. Charles North, Lincoln-Way Central, Mundelein, Fremd, York, Evanston, Oak Park-River Forest.
Top individuals: Ally Tarpey, sr., utility, St. Charles East; Hannah Wojdyla, sr., goalie, St. Charles East; Olivia Furmanek, jr., wing/driver, St. Charles East; Julia Zenz, jr., utility, St. Charles East; Emma Allamian, sr., attacker, St. Charles North; Ellie Hamilton, jr., center, St. Charles North; Sam Malone, jr., goalie, St. Charles North; Zoe Rutishauser, soph., attacker, St. Charles North; Lilly Weisner, soph., center/defender, St. Charles North.
Top newcomers: Olivia Kennedy, freshman, St. Charles East; Alivia St. Clair, jr., St. Charles East.
Season skinny: Both St. Charles teams enjoyed 20-plus win campaigns last season, as the North Stars finished 24-8 with a top 10 final state ranking (by Illpolo.com) while the Saints went 21-8 and captured their own invite title. "We are a young team that has worked extremely hard in the off-season," said North Stars coach George Mitchell, who lost a pair of standouts to graduation in Alexis Coakley and Olivia Traxler -- both of whom now play at Arizona State. "The first few practices have been very productive. We have been focused on improving our technical skills rather than focusing on our tactical game." The North Stars will face a grueling schedule that features home matches against defending state runner-up Naperville North (March 26) and 3rd-place state finisher Mother McAuley (April 23). St. Charles East, meanwhile, also prepares for a tough schedule that includes invite appearances at Conant (March 14) and at York (April 18). "This year, we have almost doubled in numbers," said Saints coach Stephanie Ter Bush. "I am looking forward to a great year with these girls."