Girls Water Polo: Lincoln-Way Central jacked to return to state
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media March 4, 2013 9:16PM
(From left to right) Caroline Foglton, Danijela Jackovich and Meghan McLean are returning seniors for the girls water polo team at Lincoln-Way Central High School as seen Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at 1801 E. Lincoln Highway in New Lenox. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Girls Water Polo 2013
SOUTHLAND TEAMS TO WATCH
Mother McAuley: A state quarterfinalist last season, the Mighty Macs should be loaded again as they lost just one starter from the 2012 squad. McAuley is a state title contender with Clare Bryar and Vicky Arciniega leading the offense. Kristen Kleist is a strong two-way player, and Sarah Abbott a rock in goal.
Sandburg: The Eagles have some holes to fill after a 22-win 2012 season, but the pieces are there with Brittany Kamper and Cara Hays as strong scoring threats. Goalie Alona King came on strong late last season.
Lincoln-Way North: The Phoenix won 23 games last season before being eliminated by H-F in a sectional semifinal. North will look to make a longer postseason run this year with a speedy team led by Cheyenne DeGraff and Sam Klosak.
H-F: The Vikings are in rebuilding mode after the loss of top scorer Rebecca Mathews. Don’t count H-F out in the SouthWest Suburban Blue just yet, though, as goalie Anna Shirer leads what is always a strong defensive team. Seniors Maddy Morris and Claire Duncan will be counted on offensively.
Bremen co-op: The Red Jaguars graduated a terrific group of seniors in 2012, but Hannah Schultz (101 goals last season) is explosive enough for the offense to recover just fine.
TOP INDIVIDUALS (in alphabetical order)
Sarah Abbott, Sr., Goalie, Mother McAuley: Anchoring one of the state’s top defenses, Abbott allowed just 4.4 goals per game last season.
Megan Hofer, Jr. Driver, Andrew: Hofer scored 43 goals and dished out 22 assists last season despite missing a quarter of the season because of injury.
Danijela Jackovich, Sr. Hole Set, Lincoln-Way Central: The 2012 SouthtownStar Player of the Year looks to conclude a brilliant high school career with her best year yet.
Kristen Kleist, Sr. Defensive Hole, Mother McAuley: Kleist was second on the team with 55 goals last season while locking down some of the state’s top offensive players.
Annie Schloen, Sr. Defensive Hole, H-F: A strong defensive player, Schloen contributed offensively as well with a team-high 28 assists and 14 goals.
Hannah Schultz, Jr. Utility, Bremen co-op: A dynamic scorer, Schultz is also a strong defender capable of playing the defensive hole.
Updated: April 6, 2013 6:05AM
Danijela Jackovich, the Stanford-bound 2012 SouthtownStar Girls Water Polo Player of the Year, is back.
That has to be a scary thought for all opponents of Lincoln-Way Central.
Meanwhile, the thinking in New Lenox has to be that, for the Knights to improve on last season — when they qualified for state for the first time before falling to Stevenson in the state quarterfinals — they’ll have to get stronger around their star.
“It’s big because the name of other teams’ defense is ‘What do we do about Danijela?’ ” Lincoln-Way Central coach Karen Desruisseaux said. “Everyone else has to step up so we can score more goals. I don’t want them to be afraid to shoot. It doesn’t always have to be Danijela. It can be anybody. If you see the shot, take it.”
Jackovich scored 154 goals and had 78 assists last year, factoring in on over two-thirds of the Knights’ scores.
With the attention she draws, the opportunities should be there for players such as senior Meghan McLean and juniors Liz Klock, Beth Senese and Michelle Dundek.
The Knights’ role players are experienced — six of seven starters return from last year — and they’re ready to contribute more.
“I’ve been a better defensive player than offensive,” McLean said. “I’m really trying to work on my offense and help out more on that side.”
Desruisseaux also expects freshmen Kenzie Applequist and Cailey Davern to make an immediate impact. Kristi Howe, a junior whom Desruisseaux said “dominated on JV” last year, should also contribute.
“Only graduating one starter from state is awesome,” Desruisseaux said. “Our experience is definitely helping so far and our older players are helping out our younger players.”
Desruisseaux’s squad is extra motivated this season to follow up on last year’s success.
“We want to get back to state and make some noise this time,” Desruisseaux said. “We’ve been there, we got a taste of it and we want more. It was good experience and I think once you go, it’s like infectious, you’ve got to go back.”
With that in mind, the Knights practiced twice a day all last week leading up to Monday’s season opener against Mother McAuley.
“These have definitely been the most intense practices we’ve had,” Jackovich said. “We want to improve on what we did last year, get better as a team and hopefully get a trophy this time.”
Jackovich said the key to the Knights’ success this season will be defense. It’s a defense that starts with returning All-Area goalie Caroline Foglton, who allowed under 6 goals a game last year.
“Caroline is a great goalie,” McLean said. “She’s improved so much since freshman year. She’s amazing.”
Foglton, Jackovich and McLean anchor a senior class that’s already made program history and is intent on making more before moving on.
“Getting to state was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Foglton said. “It makes you feel so good that you can accomplish something like that and do it as a team. I think there’s going to be an amazing push for all of us to get back there and get a trophy this time.”