By Connor Graver, staff writer
Prospect fans were in full support of the girls’ water polo team in their first appearance at state, but their enthusiasm wasn’t enough to help bring a victory. The Knights came up short against defending state champion Fenwick, losing 9-3 on Thursday May 18 at Stevenson High School.
Prospect was the biggest underdog coming into the tournament. According to www.illpolo.com, they were ranked 14th in the state while every other state team was ranked at least four positions higher.
Fenwick is coming off three straight top three finishes in the state tournament, including championships in 2014 and 2016. With this championship experience, Fenwick and was expected to roll over the up and coming Knights.
Prospect had a different plan, however. Junior Colleen Doyle scored in the first quarter to tie the game at 1-1. Fenwick struck back late in the quarter to take the lead. Although the scoreboard was all Fenwick, the Knights were still very close in the game until late in the end of the first half when the Friars scored three straight goals.
After the game, head coach Natalie Tucker was proud of how the team played with the odds stacked against them.
“I think we surprised ourselves, and more importantly we surprised [Fenwick]. I don’t think Fenwick was expecting as tough of a game as they got.”
The reason behind the Knights competing so closely with the defending state champions lies in their defense. The Knights were able to force 16 steals, seven of which coming from senior Gracie Dix. These turnovers helped tame the Friars’ offense and create scoring opportunities for the Knights.
Tucker was impressed with how the Knights defended against Fenwick.
“We knew that Fenwick would be a very strong team,” Tucker said. “We knew offensively they tend to put up very big scores on teams. We feel [that] keeping the score at nine was a great success.”
In the end, Fenwick showed why they are the defending state champions, and ran away with the game just before halftime. The Friars went on a 3-0 run with two minutes left in the first half, pulling away with a 5-1 lead.
While the end was a disappointment for the team, Tucker was happy with the team’s performance.
“I wish the score was closer too, but this team puts up crazy scores on opponents and I’m just very proud we held them to where they were,” Tucker said.