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GIRLS WATER POLO

 

#3 St 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 win.

 

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 four-team tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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