New Trier’s girls water polo team thumped Evanston both physically and emotionally in the finals of the Central Suburban League tournament last week.
But the Wildkits regrouped and showed their true character despite bowing in the rematch between the two rivals in the championship game of the Glenbrook South Sectional tournament on Saturday.
With a berth in the Illinois High School Association state finals on the line, New Trier allowed just 1 goal over the last three quarters and scored a 5-3 victory that sent the Wildkits to the sidelines at the end of a record-setting season.
Ask any of the Kits and they’d probably have traded a school record 25 victories and an IHSA state record for shutouts (6) for just one more win. Evanston finished 25-7, erasing the old school mark of 24 wins, but lost all four head-to-head matches with the Trevians (26-7).
“We got beat up physically and emotionally by them last week, and I wasn’t sure how we’d respond,” admitted ETHS head coach Andy Miner. “This had to be a rebound week for us — and it was. It would have been easy for our girls to bow down knowing they could face a team that’s really physical again like New Trier again this week, but they bounced back and fought — and fought — and fought.
“We had two man-ups (player advantages) that we didn’t convert, or we’d still be playing. We had some opportunities but they just didn’t go our way.”
New Trier’s defense had a lot to do with that. The Trevians play the equivalent of a full-court press in basketball and applied the clamps on the Kits after first period goals by Giselle Figueroa and Emma Stein.
Becca Schumm added a goal with 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game, but that turned out to be the last goal tallied by Evanston in the 2016 season. ETHS goalie Olivia Everhart stopped 10 shots in the defeat.
“New Trier plays very physical defense, and they press you out to the 7-meter mark where other teams don’t usually pick you up until about the 2 or 3-meter marks,” Miner pointed out. “They pick you up early and that’s something they do very, very well.
“We played them close today and we played our best. We took Lauren Barrett (1 goal) out of the game after she scored 6 goals against us last time by putting 2 people on her most of the time.
“We lose 12 amazing seniors from this team, and it was a fortunate situation for me to walk into coming in with them as freshmen,” Miner said. “We lose a lot of great leadership from that group. But our JV team only had 3 losses and there’s an incredible amount of talent on the frosh-soph team. We’ve had a good string over the past 4 years, and it’s not over yet.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.