GIRLS WATER POLO
Ignatius Holds Off #2 Naperville Central 6-5
By Aaron Brown
NAPERVILLE, IL - St Ignatius made the
time-consuming journey through traffic to beat Naperville Central 6-5 on
Thursday night in a battle of potential state-qualifying teams.
The Redhawks started the game off in fine fashion, as
Tori Davis drove to the left post and had a deflected pass fall in front off
her and she struck the back of the goal to put her team ahead 1-0. The
Wolfpack responded on their next possession, as Kate Stelnicki drew an
ejection and scored from the right side to even the game at 1-1. Less than a
minute later, Stephanie Fernandez found Celeste Almarez on the left side on
the counterattack, and the Wolfpack senior scored to give Ignatius their
first lead of the contest. The teams traded possessions in the next three
minutes before Stelnicki struck again, this time scoring with both teams at
full strength at the 2:10 mark to give the Wolfpack a 3-1 advantage. The
Redhawks had solid chances on their next two possessions, but Claire Fleming
nailed the left post and Abbey Kerth had her shot deflect off the crossbar
after drawing an ejection. Ignatius had a chance to extend their lead in the
final seconds of the period, but Central goal Sam Virella recorded a save to
keep the Redhawks within two at the first break.
Central responded to the 3-0 run by the Wolfpack, as
Kerth scored from seven-meters out less than two minutes into the second
period, then followed that effort with a game-tying goal from two-meters out
less than one minute later. Sejna put the Redhawks back on top with a
breakaway goal midway through the second period, but Stelnicki responded by
elevating and taking a pass from Almarez to fire a shot in from the
five-meter mark to tie the game at 4-4 at halftime.
Ignatius reclaimed the lead midway through the third
period, as Almarez scored on a shot from seven-meters to make the score 5-4.
In the closing minute of the quarter, Fleming drew an ejection for NC, but
Sejna's shot hit the post and the Redhawks could not even the score. Almarez
struck twice in the quarter from seven-meters out with under a minute to
play in the third period, giving head coach Mike Cashman's squad a 6-4 lead
with seven minutes left to play.
With Central having to play aggressively on the offensive
end, the Wolfpack had a chance to take advantage when they had a 3-on-1
breakaway, but Redhawks' goalie Julia Campbell made her second straight save
of the quarter to keep her team within striking distance. She made another
key save after Almarez drew an ejection, but the Redhawks were unable to
score in the first four minutes of the period as the Wolfpack defense
applied a great deal of defensive pressure.
The Redhawks finally broke through at the 2:40 mark, as
Lizzy Giuliani found Fleming open as she drove into two-meters and scored to
cut the St Ignatius lead to 6-5. On Central's next possession, Stelnicki
made a steal and drew an ejection that the Wolfpack could not score on. With
under a minute left to play, Fernandez made a steal to prevent a Central
attack, and the Wolfpack continued to run time off the clock in the final
minute. Central would have one last opportunity to set up a play after a
timeout with 0:15 left to play, but a quick shot sailed over the goal and St
Ignatius ran the clock out to secure the decisive win.
Celeste Almarez and Kate Stelnicki both scored 3 goals in
the win for the Wolfpack, while solid team defense helped them earn the
Abbey Kerth scored twice for Central, while Claire
Fleming, Emily Sejna, and Tori Davis each recorded one score for the
Redhawks. Goalie Julia Campbell also made 6 saves in the final period to
help keep her team in the game.
St Ignatius heads to LaGrange to take on
top-ranked Lyons on Saturday afternoon, while Central is back in action on Friday
night when they play host to Jenison (MI), Evanston, and Sandburg in a