Girls Water Polo: Mother McAuley turns tables, holds off Naperville Central
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media April 29, 2014 8:16PM
Updated: April 29, 2014 10:33PM
With the calendar about to flip to May, Tuesday’s girls water polo match between Mother McAuley and Naperville Central had a late May, state tournament feel to it.
The Macs used stifling defense to hold Central scoreless deep into the third quarter and held on for a gritty 6-4 win, avenging a loss earlier this season in a battle of two of the state’s top team.
“Pressure, pressure, pressure,” Mother McAuley coach Vanessa Carroll said of the defensive strategy. “We worked on that in practice all week long, and all season, maintaining pressure and helping each other out. We’ve been working on our offense. Our defense is there. We’re just trying to get more opportunities on offense.”
Naperville Central (20-4) made things difficult defensively as well. McAuley (20-6) scored only once in the first period ,with the first of Clare Bryar’s three goals. But in the second quarter, the Macs broke through with three goals in all.
Bryar scored twice, sandwiched around a Fran Williamson goal, to open a 4-0 halftime lead.
“We just tried to do our drives as best we could, tried to figure out what they were doing and adjust to their defense the best we could,” Bryar said of the second-quarter goals.
Naperville Central eventually got things going offensively, however. The Redhawks broke the ice with 3:19 left in the third on a goal from sophomore Kaela Codo. Kristina Altuve then set up Michelle Spaits for another goal 55 seconds later.
Freshman Emily Westlove’s goal with 14 seconds left in the third cut the lead to 5-3.
“I was really excited, getting the fire under us again and really getting moving in the second half,” Central assistant coach Haley Nelson said. “I think that we were letting up on our own good opportunities. Once we were able to clean up our offense, we were able to let things happen.”
But McAuley cranked up the defense again in the fourth, holding Central without a goal until the Macs held a three-goal lead with 20 seconds left.
“It’s a big confidence booster for our girls,” Carroll said. “We had a couple of losses, so we knew what we needed to work on today. They came out and worked hard.”