Girls Water Polo: Mother McAuley has pool covered
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media March 9, 2014 4:12PM
Mother McAuley's Clare Bryar | File photo
Girls Water Polo 2014
Top Southland Teams
1. Mother McAuley: Clare Bryar and Fran Williamson will look to lead the Mighty Macs to state for the fourth straight year. If McAuley’s sophomores step up, look out.
2. Bremen co-op: Hannah Schultz (90 goals last season) is one of the area’s most dangerous players. The Red Jaguars will build around her in search of their first trip to state.
3. Lincoln-Way Central: Can the Knights, state runner-up a year ago, win without Danijela Jackovich? Liz Klock (62 goals last season) and Kristi Howe (48) will try to pick up the slack.
4. Sandburg: The Eagles took plenty of hits to graduation from last year’s 26-7 sectional finalist, but should reload behind Sarah Dolitsky, Caitlin Olson and Caitlin Krull.
5. Andrew: The Thunderbolts finished 15-13 with a young squad in 2013 and should be much-improved with Megan Hofer (93 goals last season) and goalie Anna Tamulonis among the returnees.
Top Southland Players
(in alphabetical order)
Niki Beringer, Sr. utility, Lincoln-Way North; Clare Bryar, Sr. hole, Mother McAuley; Cassidy DeGraff, Soph. driver, Lincoln-Way North; Sarah Dolitsky, Jr. driver, Sandburg; Josephine Edelbrock, Sr. goalie, Homewood-Flossmoor; Megan Hofer, Sr. driver, Andrew; Kristi Howe, Sr. driver, Lincoln-Way Central; Liz Klock, Sr. driver, Lincoln-Way Central; Haley McCabe, Sr. hole, Lincoln-Way East; Sarah Minnich, Sr. driver, Bremen co-op; Ashley O’Neill, Jr. driver, Lockport; Hannah Schultz, Sr. utility, Bremen co-op; Sophie Sesto, Sr. utility, Marian Catholic; Anna Tamulonis, Sr. goalie, Andrew; Fran Williamson, Sr. defensive hole, Mother McAuley.
Updated: April 11, 2014 6:18AM
Mother McAuley has to replace four All-State players among the five senior starters it lost from the 2013 squad that finished third in the state.
That’s no easy task, but when the Mighty Macs have a star on each end of the pool in Clare Bryar and Fran Williamson, it’s certainly not an impossible one.
“Clare and Fran have been on varsity since they were freshmen and are strong leaders,” McAuley coach Vanessa Carroll said. “We have younger girls ready to step up. It’s going to be another good season. We’re excited.”
Bryar scored a team-high 89 goals last season in earning 1st Team All-State honors. But the scoring was spread around last year, with four girls topping the 50-goal mark.
Bryar is the only returnee from that group, which likely will make her the target of opposing defenses.
“I think teams may be focused on me, but I don’t think I’m the only one in control of the game,” Bryar said. “I think Fran and I are really prepared to lead the team, along with (fellow seniors) Mary June O’Connell and (goalie) Hannah Murphy, but I think the sophomores we have coming up are really strong players and they’re going to do some good things for us.”
Those sophomores, including Julie Olivares, Maggie Hennigan, Claire Mueller and Tess Bowens, will be counted on to step up.
“We’re working with the girls so everyone has a role in the pool,” Carroll said. “Everyone knows what they have to do. If other teams are going to put the attention on (Bryar), we’re working with girls to step up and play different positions, step up and score so it’s not just Clare in the hole all the time having to score.”
Williamson embraces her role as the defensive stopper on a team that always prides itself on its ability to slow down the opposition.
“Defense is definitely more of a favorite for me,” she said. “It’s my biggest strength.”
Carroll is confident the combination of senior leaders and talented youngsters will prove fruitful.
“We want to get back to where we were at last year, and I have no doubt in my mind that we will,” she said. “It might take a bit longer this year with all the younger girls, but we’ll get there.”
The Macs are hoping that will mean another trip to state, which would be their fourth straight.
“We want to continue that,” Bryar said. “It’s a good place to be.”