Girls water polo: Stevenson nabs sectional title with shutout of Libertyville
Reigning state girls water polo champion Stevenson didn't get a chance to defend its title in 2020 due to COVID-19, but now the Patriots are poised for what they hope is a third-straight championship and fifth in their last six trips to state.
Stevenson won its 15th sectional title with an 11-0 shutout over Libertyville Saturday afternoon in Lincolnshire. They will take on Lincoln-Way East in a 7 p.m. state quarterfinal on Wednesday at Fenwick.
"I'm very excited. Very proud of how we played defensively," Stevenson coach Jeff Wimer said. "We weren't that sharp offensively. This season was a roller-coaster ride to be honest. We were on for two weeks, (then) took a pause because of COVID. It was definitely a setback for a while. We had no games, no practice, nothing. That was huge. It's been about a month that we've been back. I'd say we're back and much sharper out there."
The Patriots (26-2) suffered a loss to Evanston that broke a 77-match winning streak after their return to the pool. Still, Stevenson has pulled together in the long run with a number of girls that missed all of last year and came back with some experience.
"There's a lot of girls, especially the seniors, who have been through it but were off last year." Wimer said. "There were all sophomores and a couple were freshmen when they were part of the last state championship team. But they know what it took. I'm proud of their maturity with our six seniors and how they're leading the team."
Junior Elizabeth White led the Patriots Saturday with 5 goals. Maria Mossakowski and Belle Cloeter each had a pair. Liz Martin and Yachi Patel had the others.
"It's really good to have teammates that I can trust and help each other out," White said. "It's really a team effort."
Mossakowski provided the Patriots defensive help in the middle and back on defense.
"I'm told that I'm intimidating in the pool," said Mossakowski, who will play at Sienna College next year. "I'm outside the pool, I'm kind of short and nobody expects it. When I'm in (the pool), I definitely make it up with my attitude and my strong play. This team has progressed a lot this season. A lot of it is trust. We trust each other."
Libertyville (16-7) made its first trip to the sectional final after it beat second-seeded Buffalo Grove on the road 8-7 in 2 OTs on Friday night.
"We knew that Stevenson was going to be tough coming in," Libertyville coach Tracy Balla said. "I thought this was the best we've played them all season. There was a lot of excitement for us making our first trip to a sectional final. The girls were fired up and ready to go. They were excited, but they were a little tired after beating Buffalo Grove and what they had to do to get that win."
Cate McCarty had a storied season for the Wildcats with 60 goals (157 goals in her varsity career). She was well-marked by the Patriots and had limited scoring chances.
"I was out there fighting hard," McCarty said. "It was very difficult to get a shot off. I was really trying to get a goal in there and even a rebound goal. It was tough against Stevenson, but they're very good with their sportsmanship. We didn't want to get shut out and wanted to get one more goal."