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  By Aaron Brown

  May 2013


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Dreams come true and seasons come to an end around this time of year. For the 32 teams seeking one more win in order to qualify for the 2013 state water polo tournament, 'Sectional Final Saturday' is the biggest day on the season's calendar. Here is your guide to all of the action on Saturday, May 11:





12:00pm (1) Fenwick vs (2) Lyons

The Friars have racked up two double-digit wins in this year's playoffs to help them forget last weekend's Catholic League semifinal loss to St Ignatius. The Lions' overcame a fourth quarter deficit with a 3-0 run to beat York in last night's semifinal round. With both teams carrying a good deal of momentum into this matchup, who will gain the upperhand in this traditionally epic battle between the two teams when a state berth is on the line? Fenwick won last year's sectional final game 7-6 in double-overtime on a goal by Haley Wickham. The Lions are hopeful things will be that close this time around, considering the only meeting between the two teams back in Week 5 resulted in a 9-4 Fenwick victory.


Questions: Can the Friars quickly recover from last weekend's disappointing loss to St Ignatius and make it back to the state tournament to defend their title? Will the home pool advantage play a role in Fenwick's potential success? Can the Lions channel their late-season momentum and make things as difficult as they did for Fenwick in last year's sectional final?




11:00am (1) Barrington vs (2) Fremd

Barrington survived a scare from Conant in the semifinal round on Friday and escaped with a 9-8 win to advance to the sectional final. They won't be able to start out slowly against a Fremd team that took care of business against Hersey on Friday night and always seems to know how to win in the postseason in crucial games. The Fillies did beat out the Vikings for the MSL West title this season, but the Vikings won the most recent meeting between the two teams 13-12 on April 23. Barrington will hoping things go more like their April 2 contest with Fremd, which saw the Fillies earn an 11-8 win behind Lisa Danhauer's five goal performance. The Vikings will be hoping things go more like last year's sectional final, which they 11-3 to advance to the state tournament.


Questions: Will the Vikings be able to take advantage of playing at home? Can the Fremd defense stop a Barrington offense that is loaded with a variety of weapons that can be hard to handle?




11:00am (1) New Trier vs (2) Loyola

It took a last-second goal by Samantha Padavic for New Trier to beat Loyola back on April 12. That was a major improvement for the Ramblers from last year's sectional final game, which saw the Trevians qualify for state with a 15-9 victory. Are the two squads due for another epic chapter in their long rivalry on Saturday with another state berth on the line? Loyola will be tasked with stopping a balanced Trevian offense led by Alexana Astor. On the other end, New Trier will attempt to put the clamps on both Evan Swenson and Marta Considine, two highly-prolific scorers for Rich Schici's bunch. Both teams also boast talented goaltenders in Hannah Caywood (New Trier) and Meredith O'Brien (Loyola), so goals could be at a premium in this contest.


Questions: Which defense will be able to limit their opponents' quality scoring chances and stay out of foul trouble? Which team's go-to player will have the standout performance and potentially carry their team to a state tournament appearance?




11:00am (1) Lincoln-Way Central vs (2) Lincoln-Way North

Last season, Lincoln-Way North beat Lincoln-Way Central in both regular season meetings but didn't have the chance to face them for a state berth after the Phoenix lost to H-F in the sectional semifinals. This time around, the Knights earned a pair of two-goal wins over North, but now the Phoenix get their long awaited chance to face Central with a state tournament berth on the line. Will the Knights pick up where they left off last season after making their first state tournament appearance, or is it Lincoln-Way North's turn to make the journey to state for the first time in school history?


Questions: Can the Phoenix find a way to limit Danijela Jackovich on the offensive end? Which Knights' player will step up if the North defense is successful in stopping their star player? Can LWN build an early lead to shake the confidence of a Central team that knows how to win in the postseason?




12:00pm (1) Mundelein vs (2) Stevenson

Mundelein had no trouble returning to the sectional final round after a year away; they earned convincing wins over Libertyville and Vernon Hills to get to within a game of the state tournament. Meanwhile, the Patriots are in familiar territory as they look to repeat as sectional champions after disposing of Wheeling and Lake Forest in the previous two rounds. So it's time for a good, old-fashioned battle between rivals on Saturday afternoon, with the Mustangs hoping to repeat their 7-5 victory over Stevenson back in late April.


Questions: Have the Patriots been able to figure out a way to stop Allison Boothe, Karrie Kozokar, and company from getting on the scoreboard repeatedly? Will the Mustangs be able to make the in-game adjustments to react to whatever game plan the Patriots have brought to the table? Who will win the chess match between experienced coaches Drew Schneider (Mundelein) and Jeff Wimer (Stevenson)?




11:00am (1) Naperville North vs (2) Naperville Central

The Huskies and Redhawks split the regular season series (1-1) in 2013, so the rubber match between the two rivals will fittingly result in a state tournament berth for whatever team is victorious on Saturday at Neuqua Valley. North had little trouble getting to this position, as they dominated STC East and wore out the sectional hosts in their semifinal contest on Friday night. The Redhawks had a few more hiccups, as they trailed STC North 6-4 late in their semifinal contest before a 6-0 run propelled them back to the familiar position of a sectional final.


Questions: Can the Huskies' youth overcome the Redhawks' experience when the two teams clash on Saturday? Can the Redhawks regroup after expending so much energy to get past the North Stars less than 24 hours ago? Who will be the one player that has a big enough impact to get her respective team to the state tournament with a win?




11:00am (1) Mother McAuley vs (2) Sandburg

The Mighty Macs and Eagles have made it through the playoffs as per usual to meet up for what seems like their annual sectional final contest. Sandburg has yet to break through, though they will be hoping their late-season momentum can help them pull off an upset of the state's top-ranked team. Meanwhile, Mother McAuley couldn't be faulted for basking in the glory of their Catholic League title from last week, but their experienced squad knows what it takes to win big games and they will assuredly not be looking past Sandburg in tomorrow's contest. The Mighty Macs will be hoping their balanced attack can help them repeat their early-season victory over the Eagles, when Amy Kopale, Clare Bryar, and Vicky Arciniega each scored 3 goals in a 9-5 win. Sandburg will likely call on top defender Lauren Olson and goalie Alona King to help limit McAuley from scoring in double-digits, like they did in last year's 15-8 sectional final victory.


Questions: Can the Eagles' defense, led by Olson and King, limit the well-balanced offensive attack of Mother McAuley? Will the officiating have any impact on the physical play of both teams? Can Sandburg's vastly-improved offense match the offensive firepower of the Mighty Macs if this becomes a high-scoring affair?




6:30pm (1) St Ignatius vs (2) Lane

The Wolfpack would have to be considered heavy favorites to win their own sectional when they take on Lane on Saturday night. But don't count your chickens and all of that. In last year's final game, Ignatius fended off a scrappy Indians' team 10-7 to advance to the state tournament, so the hosts would be wise not to overlook one of the biggest underdogs remaining in the 2013 playoffs. St Ignatius blends a mix of youth and experience as they make their usual late season charge, while Lane also has a solid core of experienced players from last year's squad that has been in this position before. The Wolfpack will point to their 13-3 regular season victory over the Indians for confidence, while Lane would be quick to add that game was nearly two months ago, and they have made major strides since then.


Questions: Will the Wolfpack's younger players be able to overcome their nerves in the high-stress position of a do-or-die game? Can the Indians limit the offensive strike force of Becky Insalaco, Tammy Stelnicki, Rebecca Martinez, and company? Will St Ignatius be able to make adjustments if either Natalie O'Connell or Carmen Savolainen have a major impact on the offensive end in the early stages of the game?





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