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Girls’ water polo works toward state

Grace DeKoker, Copy Editor

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    LT girls’ varsity water polo was trailing New Trier on March 13, and had been for the majority of this early season game. The girls got off to a slow start, center defender Olivia Ohm ‘19 said. It took about one quarter before they got control of the game by pressing hard on defense, but once they did, they were unstoppable.

Key goals by Hannah Good ‘19 and saves by goaltender Grace Wantuck ‘20 brought them back, and they won the game after a close final quarter. Since then, the team has grown in confidence, Ohm said.

“I hope we hold onto our momentum, build up from what we have now,” head varsity coach Lauren Burel said. “We’re going to be seeing more of the top teams in the state, so it’s only going to get harder.”

The team is primarily driven by their goals, Burel said. Last year they narrowly lost the sectional tournament, which meant they were unable to advance to state. This season, however, they are training harder than ever for success in sectionals, she said, and are shooting for a spot in the final four in the state tournament.

“We all really want to go [to state],” varsity captain Kaysie Stuba said. “We’ve changed our training around, and conditioning has been a big focus for us.”

Water polo conditioning is especially difficult because there are so many facets to it, Stuba said. The team must be fast in the water, but physically strong in able to ward off other players. They have been working more with straight swimming sets to improve speed, and have been weight training and doing more out-of-water exercises, called “dryland,” to increase muscular strength

Another strength of the team lies in their team bond, Burel said. Many of the girls have played together year-round in previous years, and both varsity and JV players worked on their technique during club season, she said.

“I haven’t seen a team this close in so long,” Stuba said. “We’ve known each other more through club this year, and we’ve known a lot of the girls through swimming too. Everyone has a very team oriented mindset, which is definitely what we want.”

The team is mostly upperclassmen, with only three underclassmen playing for varsity. Wantuck in particular has stood out as the team’s goalie, and is one of the top goalies in the state, Stuba said. She played varsity as a freshman, and is returning to the team for another strong season, Burel said.

While every player has three or more years of experience, the older players are definite leaders of the team, Ohm said.

 “It’s really cool, because [juniors] can look up to the seniors, and we hope the younger students look up to us too,” Ohm said. “There are more role models.”

They next compete against OPRF on April 12.

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Girls’ water polo works toward state