Girls Water Polo: Abbey Kerth sets Naperville Central goals recordLauren Gunn (right) of Naperville Central starts to pass to a Redhawk teammate as Grace Culver of Naperville North moves in to defend. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 5, 2012 10:35PM
Even in her moment of glory Naperville Central’s water polo great Abbey Kerth tried to deflect attention away from herself and on to her teammates.
Kerth scored seven goals in the Redhawks’ 16-3 win over host Naperville North on Thursday, and her seventh goal was the 320th of her career, breaking the all-time Naperville Central career goal-scoring record. It was her 55th goal of the season.
“I never thought I would break the record tonight,” Kerth said. “On that last goal I got a good pass. My scoring depends on a lot of teamwork and great passing. I love my team and I’m really proud to be part of a great Naperville Central water polo tradition.”
That said, the record-breaking goal came with two defenders draped all over Kerth, which was the case with several of her goals in Thursday’s victory.
“Abbey has earned every one of her 320 goals,” said Naperville Central coach Jeff Plackett. “She makes everyone in the pool better. She has those intangible leadership qualities and she’s not just a scorer. She’s a good defender. Arizona State is getting someone who can play any position in the pool.”
By coincidence Kara Wilson, whose career record Kerth passed, was in the audience because her father was one of the officials in the game.
“Abbey’s a great girl,” Wilson said. “I’m so happy that she’s the one who broke the record.”
The game itself was all Naperville Central as Kerth kicked off the scoring with a goal in the second minute and that was followed by a Madison Norvig score to make it 2-0 with less than four minutes to play in the period. The Redhawks (14-0) held a 6-1 lead when the period ended and built that margin to 11-2 at the half.
The remainder of the Redhawks’ scoring was spread among eight of Kerth’s teammates as Nervig scored two and seven different swimmers had one apiece.
“Our defense led to our opportunities on offense,” Kerth said. “We played a real physical game today. That’s the fun about playing against your rivals. This year we’ve done really well.”
“Home or away, you have to control the tempo of the game by being the aggressors,” Plackett said. “It’s important to get in the water like you own the place.”
Naperville North coach Andy McWhirter praised Kerth as a great player and for her seven-goal performance.
“We tried to keep rotating different defenders on her,” McWhirter said. “We tried to double-team her to shut her down, but she was able to get around that. Kudos to her.”
McWhirter thought his team is better than it showed against Naperville Central.
“We did a pretty nice job of covering ourselves on defense,” he said. “And Kate MacDuff did an awesome job in the goal. She made a lot of great saves. But, as a team, we still have to work on our drives and do a better job of getting girls open. Sometimes we’re too stagnant.”