Girls Water Polo: Naperville Central eases past St Charles East
Updated: May 10, 2012 7:21PM
Naperville Central’s girls water polo team began its journey toward a potential state championship Thursday at the Metea Valley Sectional.
The top-seeded Redhawks used the bench liberally in an 18-1 win over ninth-seeded St. Charles East to advance to Friday’s 7:15 p.m. semifinal against fifth-seeded Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats upset fourth-seeded St. Charles North Thursday.
“Any time you play another school in the Naperville area, it’s going to be a fun game,” Naperville Central coach Jeff Plackett said of the showdown with Neuqua, a team the Redhawks beat during the regular season.
Thursday, The Redhawks (29-2) went without a goal from the program’s all-time leading scorer, Abbey Kerth, for just the third time all season, but that was due mostly to the fact Plackett used his bench throughout. Michelle Spaits led the way with three goals, while Lauren Gunn, Kristina Altuve, Erin Reagan, Madison Nervig, Emily Sejna and Leslie Calabrese each scored twice.
“I thought Altuve looked real good tonight,” Plackett said. “Michelle did a nice job, particularly in the second half. I thought (goalie Julia) Campbell looked fantastic on the lob shots.”
St. Charles East (2-28) was the lone nine seed in the state to advance to the quarterfinals, knocking off Hinsdale South on Tuesday to earn the chance to face Central. The going was tough until Sarah Ditch scored on a six-on-four chance with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter to end the shutout.
“We drew up a play and put it in,” first-year coach Stephanie McClure said. “That was really nice to see. It was good experience for the girls.”
Despite the lopsided score, Plackett was impressed with what he saw from the Saints. The program has had a multitude of coaching changes in recent years, but Plackett remembers back to the days when McClure was a standout player at Mundelein over a decade ago and feels the program is in good hands.
“I think St. Charles East should be really encouraged by what’s happening,” Plackett said. “I know that some people might look at the score and just wonder about a lopsided score, but I tip my hat to a group of seniors who have dealt with three new head coaches in the last couple of years. Stephanie is a very, very good coach. It’s just going to take some time to get her system going.”