March 22, 2015
Naperville North Takes Down Defending Champs
When a defending champion loses for the first time the
following season, it is not uncommon for eyebrows to raise and for
questions to be asked. Things were no different this past weekend after
Naperville North beat Fenwick 13-6 in the Huskies' mini-tournament.
Truth be told, Fenwick may have started the season
ranked too high (in the top spot) after losing the majority of their
starters to graduation. At the same time, a young and talented group of
players spearheaded by a natural goal scorer like Catie Wallace were
coming off a season where they did not lose a single game to a team from
Illinois (the Friars lost twice to teams from Florida and Michigan).
Meanwhile, the Huskies had a large hurdle to overcome
on Saturday as they faced a team that eliminated them from the playoffs in
the state quarterfinal round in 2014. Imagine being ahead 6-5 at halftime
against a team you have never beaten before only to lose 11-8 and watch
that same team go on to win the state title. Would the ghosts of seasons
past affect the play of the third-ranked Huskies?
Not a chance. The game kicked off in Naperville with
the teams feeling each other out before Katie Horn set the tone with an
early goal from the left side of the pool to make the score 1-0. Two
possessions later, Jilian Eiken connected from close range and the Huskies
led 2-0 midway through the opening period.
The Friars looked to respond as they always seem to do
when backed up against a wall, but Wallace just missed the right of the
cage with a shot from the point as the shot clock expired. On the other
end, Eiken quickly drew an ejection and Horn scored her second of the
period to make the score 3-0. Fenwick would have another good chance from
around five meters on their next chance, but freshman Molly McGuire was
denied by North goaltender Christina McBride and the home side still led
3-0 late in the period.
As mentioned above, the Friars always seem to have a
response, so when Kelly Frumkin scored from the left side with just under
one minute remaining in the opening quarter, that lingering doubt of
whether the Friars would make a monumental run and turn the game around
seemed to be on everyone's mind in the glass-divided natatorium. And sure
enough, Fenwick would get a stop and a solid chance on the other end
before the end of the period, but a lob shot sailed just over the cage and
the Huskies took their 3-1 lead into the second period.
The Friars seemed to have a bit of momentum despite the
two-goal deficit, so when Wallace stripped McBride to the left of the cage
after a rebound opportunity, the Fenwick junior had possession with a
wide-open goal at her disposal. Magically, the sophomore goalkeeper was
able to cleanly strip Wallace from behind before she could fire in a sure
goal to cut the lead to 3-2. Instead, Horn skipped a shot in from the left
side one minute later and the Huskies seemed to be comfortable again with
a 4-1 advantage.
McGuire had other ideas, as she capitalized on a double
team elsewhere to find the right side of the cage from just outside seven
meters to cut the lead to 4-2. Would that be the moment where the game
reached a turning point?
Not this time, as the Huskies quickly drew an ejection
on the other end. Caitlin Holzer made a brilliant move with the ball
toward the goalline before lofting a pass to Eiken on the left post, where
she slotted an easy goal into the left side of the cage to make the score
If there was to be a turning point in this game, that
was it. It was the mark of an experienced team doing experienced things
and not giving in to the pressure of a difficult test. After another
defensive stand, Eiken lobbed a shot in from the left post to increase the
lead to 6-2, then Horn added another goal on the counterattack to put the
hosts ahead by five entering the final minute of the half.
The Friars had their late first-half chances, but a
missed lob, a solid save by McBride, and a shot that hit the back of the
net after time had expired allowed Naperville North to avoid the type of
rally that could have affected them mentally during the halftime break.
Horn and Wallace traded goals to start the second half,
then Fenwick's Eryn Kulyk earned a penalty shot that might have helped the
Friars get back into the game. McBride did not allow the goal, then Eiken
assisted Horn on a score at the other end after an ejection to make the
score 9-3 as time in the third period dwindled down.
After a few Fenwick chances that went just awry, the
fourth quarter had already arrived with the Huskies still firmly in
control. That fact was highlighted after Horn drove in for a goal and
Holzer scored on a breakaway to put the Huskies ahead 11-4 just two
minutes into the final period.
McGuire was left alone at five meters to add her second
goal, but Holzer was equal to the task from that same distance after a
North timeout and the lead for the home side was 12-5. Taylor Stoner would
add another goal for the Huskies before McGuire notched her third score
and both teams essentially let the clock dwindle down on Naperville
North's 13-6 victory over the defending champions.