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Collins lifts Wildkit girls to sudden-death polo win

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Honore Collins usually catches some grief for the lob shots she practices for Evanston’s girls water polo team on a regular basis.

But maybe now her coaches and teammates will cut her some slack.

Collins’ lob over all-everything goalie Isabelle Trier of Maine East found the upper corner of the net and lifted the Wildkits to a 4-3 sudden death overtime victory Tuesday at the Burton Aquatic Center.

Collins’ third goal of the game came 27 seconds into the sudden death portion of OT. Both teams tallied twice in the two mandatory overtime periods before Collins found an opening against the lanky Trier, who finished with 18 saves.

The matchup between two of the Central Suburban League’s top defensive teams also featured 22 saves by Evanston sophomore goalie Olivia Everhart.

“It feels so good,” said Collins, “but I really thought it wasn’t going in. I was so scared I’d miss and my girl would go down to the other end and score, and it would be all my fault. But you need to take risks to get the rewards.

“She (Trier) came out of the goal a little and I thought she might not be able to get back. Every shot I take is a lob, because goalies always seem to expect you to take a direct shot at them.”

“We give her a hard time all the time in practice because she takes those lobs,” said Evanston coach Andy Miner. “It’s a shot she takes all the time — instead of shooting with authority — and there’s only a small window to put the ball through. You have to mix it up more than that. But Honore’s so fast that goalies usually feel they have to come out on her. And tonight she beat one of the best goalies in the state.

“Maine East’s defensive attention was more inside for this game, and Honore plays outside, so thankfully she was open. To be honest, that play was not drawn up for her. We wanted to get the ball to Courtney Gregori inside, because she has one of the hardest shots on our team. And she had position, too. But no one covered Honore and she walked right in.”

Evanston scored its second victory over the Blue Demons this season and moved to 11-4 overall on the season. That’s just one win shy of the entire total posted by ETHS last spring.

Tuesday’s thriller might just be the win that makes the Wildkits believe in themselves, according to Miner.

“We’re trying to change the culture here and our (six) seniors have done a great job with that,” the coach noted. “They stuck with the program and they did a lot of work in the off-season. It’s slowly becoming a more positive culture. Even after a sudden death win tonight, they were chattering about what they can do to get better, and they weren’t just celebrating.

“We definitely had to shake off some spring break rust tonight. We had a ton of turnovers, and it just feels good to get this win.”

Collins’ older sister, Madison, also played a key role for the winners. She limited East’s high-scoring hole set, Maria Protic, to four shots on goal — and no goals — before being ejected in the fourth quarter. Senior co-captain Karissa McBride took on that defensive challenge when Collins exited, and Protic did tally once in the first overtime.

“Ejections are bound to happen like that when you’re up against the other team’s strongest player every night,” Miner said. “On that last one Madison saved an easy goal, so it was well worth it.”

Evanston nursed a 1-0 lead for three periods. Shortly after Madison Collins’ ejection, the Demons finally got even when Hannah Farley tipped a shot past Everhart.

The Wildkits had the last possession in regulation play, but couldn’t get off a game-winning attempt.

The hosts responded to Protic’s goal with scores by Honore Collins and Aliya Abdelhak in the first OT. East’s Sarah Pham rocketed a shot past Everhart with 63 seconds left in the second OT to send the game to sudden death.

Source: ETHS Sports Information

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