NEW LENOX – It was senior day for Lincoln-Way Central’s girls water polo team, three members of which were on a 2017 team that had a school-best 29-5 record and made the state finals tournament.
While the Knights had a 21-win season a year ago under coach Pam Dettman, who now is in her third season, they aspire for more in 2019 and hope to reach state for the fifth time in eight years and to win a second trophy. Central took second place at state in 2013.
Central improved to 15-4 overall and a SouthWest Suburban Conference best 7-0, after taking a 4-0 first-quarter lead and expanding it to 8-2 with one quarter left to capture an 11-4 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais.
The Knights, who are ranked No. 9 in the www.illpolo.com rankings, have their sights on the upcoming Lincoln-Way West Sectional, which includes the other two schools in their district.
Leading the way in Thursday’s match with three goals was senior Megan Cales, who collected 48 goals on the state-qualifying team.
“I think the transition two years ago when we won sectionals and playing with those girls at a such a high level really helped us,” Cales said. “We were the underdogs then, but now we have this year’s players, who look up to us two years later. We have a huge responsibility of being team leaders, and that’s riding on our shoulders, but at the same time, it’s super rewarding.”
The only other Knight to score multiple goals was Jackie McGuire with two. Goalkeeper Bekkah Schimick allowed only two goals in the first three quarters.
Other Central players who scored a goal were seniors Maddie Clark and Jamie Rajca, who also were on the 2017 state team. Madi Jager, Sierra Maze and Sam Triner also scored.
“We’re playing pretty good,” Rajca said. “We believe in teamwork and always want to make sure that everybody’s getting the ball and working it around and things are running smoothly. We want to make sure that the younger players are getting the experience to play on the upper level, so we’re making sure they know what to do in certain situations.”
With 65 victories to their credit during the past three seasons, Central’s players know that ranked rivals Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West also are in their sectional.
“We looked up to the girls that were on the team two years ago, and we’re hoping to win another sectional title this year,” Clark said. “I feel like we all push each other and work real well as a team. One thing about our team is that we’re all very close, and we all lift each other up and that’s what helps us to play good games.”