Water polo: Hersey girls advance to state; top-seeded Palatine boys oust Fremd
Hersey girls water polo coach Megan Brownley was faced with an additional challenge that many a spring sports coach has to deal with during the tail end of the calendar -- events that can impact a team's schedule.
In this case it was the senior prom that was scheduled for Friday night. After Hersey beat Schaumburg to advance to Saturday afternoon's Conant sectional title match against the host school, most of her unit changed into their formal attire to participate which it did properly pacing themselves.
"I wish prom were (scheduled) for Saturday so we didn't have to worry about it," Brownley said. "But when the sectional sites came out a few weeks ago and I saw that we were at this site, I knew we had a real good shot at winning. So I told the girls that the semifinals are going to be played the night of prom (so) plan on not going to prom and they were all in and wanted to play the game."
When Saturday came, the Huskies got back into game mode and rewarded their coach with stellar play, using a late scoring surge at the end of the second quarter. They then turned on the afterburners in the third period to pull away from the MSL champion Cougars 10-4 to earn their second consecutive sectional title and a return ticket to next weekend's state quarterfinals in Lincolnshire.
They will face Lyons Township (29-2-1), a 20-7 winner over Chicago Mother McAuley in its sectional final in LaGrange.
Hersey (24-8) avenged a one-goal loss at Conant in the MSL championship game.
"It feels amazing, especially having lost here against them last week," Huskies senior attacker Grace Steinberg said. "That really hurt watching them jump into the pool with the MSL championship (trophy). I'm really glad we had our revenge game and got them back for that."
That chance for revenge came to fruition in the closing stages of quarter number two. Conant (22-7) evened the score at 3 with 4:21 remaining in the half thanks to an Isha Patel score. It was at that point that junior Annika Lindberg and senior Olivia Bieniek connected on tallies that gave the Huskies the lead for good at 5-3 at the break.
That's when after a Sally Bornhorst goal, Carthage-bound Steinberg connected on back-to-back scores over the final 4:46 of the third to give them an insurmountable 8-3 advantage heading into the fourth.
Palatine boys 9, Fremd 6:
As the 2022 boys water polo season began, Fremd coach Tim Daniel had to fill the starting goaltender position that had been vacated due to graduation.
He ended up going with a sophomore in Ansh Parikh who has impressed the second-year Vikings mentor by leaps and bounds.
"He has stepped in there and I think every day he's (getting) better," Daniel said earlier this season. "He's learning a lot and probably has the steepest learning curve of any of the goalies that I ever trained. His career is just getting started."
And it has been Parikh's play that has served as the proverbial base camp of the late-season surge that has fueled Fremd into a No. 2 seed in the Conant sectional and into a final date with archival Palatine. Fremd had won 10 of 13 as it entered the pool at Conant Saturday morning against the top-seeded Pirates.
Unfortunately, for Parikh and his Vikings teammates they ran into a Palatine squad that had its postseason tunnel vision in 20/20 view. That allowed the Pirates to survive Fremd's strong challenge and capture their first sectional crown since 2014 with a 9-6 victory.
The win propels the Pirates (25-5) northbound to Stevenson High School for a Thursday night state quarterfinal date with New Trier. The Trevians (30-2) bested Maine South 18-5 to capture the Glenbrook South sectional Saturday.
For Palatine to prevail it had get back to defensive fundamentals. That began with strong goaltending by senior Patryk Maslowski (11 saves) as Fremd (19-14) unveiled a 30-shot barrage on goal.
Maslowski, rather than speak of his performance in net, lavished praise on his teammates in front including Max Adame (3 goals), Cayden Hilgers (2 goals), Matt Stepp (2 goals), Adam Jelonkiewicz and Sam Hamilton who all tallied for the Pirates.
"My defense came to play and came through in the clutch," Maslowski said. "I'm blessed to have some great guys to play with."
"Our goalie and our defense just work together well and (attempt) to stop them from scoring," Adame added. "Our game plan was to come out, lock down on defense and let the offense work. We were a little slow getting the offense running, but we were able to push through."
Which is what Palatine did after trailing 4-3 at the break. Thanks to scores from Jelonkiewicz and Stepp's first tally, the Pirates were able to gain control of the match taking a 5-4 lead into the fourth. It was there that Adame's second and third goals followed Stepp's second allowing it the cushion it needed to take the title plaque for a championship plunge in the Conant pool.