Girls State Water Polo: Dynamic duo leads Mother McAuley past Palatine
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media May 23, 2014 10:48PM
Tess O'Brien (left) of Palatine tries to keep her grip on the ball as Claire Mueller (2) of Mother McCauley defends. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 24, 2014 3:29PM
Mother McAuley’s Clare Bryar and Fran Williamson came into Friday’s state quarterfinals with 94 goals each. The two have a friendly competition — and provide a duo capable of striking fear into any opponent.
“We call ourselves the tag team,” Bryar said.
The tag team did it all Friday night. Bryar scored seven goals, Williamson added five and the Mighty Macs clinched their 10th state trophy in 13 years with a 13-8 win over Palatine at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.
“They did good,” McAuley coach Vanessa Carroll said. “They know how to read each other. They know where each other’s going in the pool. They work really well together.”
The Mighty Macs (25-8) will look to improve on last season’s third-place finish when they take on rival Fenwick (29-2) in a semifinal set for 12:45 p.m. Saturday. The Friars won both regular-season matchups.
McAuley, which dug itself a hole in the Stagg Sectional final against Bremen co-op before rallying late, started slow again.
The Mighty Macs led 2-1 after the first quarter before they won the second-quarter swim-off, and Julie Olivares found Bryar open for a goal just eight seconds into the period.
That sparked a five-goal quarter for the McAuley offense.
“That goal kind of brought momentum for us,” Bryar said. “It was a strong quarter for us.”
Down 7-3, Palatine (27-6) scored twice in the final 1:19 of the first half to get back in it.
In the end, there was way too much Bryar and Williamson for the Pirates — making their first state appearance — to handle.
McAuley opened the second half on a 5-0 run to pull away. Each member of the duo scored once in the third quarter before Williamson opened the fourth with a goal and Bryar scored twice.
Meanwhile, the Mighty Macs clamped down defensively. With Williamson doing much of the dirty work inside, they held Palatine’s Rachel Chumbook, who came in with 138 goals, to one late score.
“We just fronted the hole and tried to stop the ball from coming in there,” Williamson said. “If we can shut (Chumbook) down, we’re doing our jobs.”
Olivares added a goal for the Mighty Macs.
Caroline Wojtas (4 goals) and Caitlin McHugh (2) paced Palatine.
The scoring competition between Bryar and Williamson will continue for two more games. While basking in the glow of the victory, Williamson patted Bryar on the back.
“Good luck,” she said.