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Naperville Central water polo players celebrate with their 2012 sectional plaque Saturday at Metea Valley High School. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Metea Valley
Coach: Lenny DePasquale
Last year: 20-7-2, lost in the sectional finals
Top players: Seniors: Lindsay Raczak, driver; Zoe Krey, center defender; Monique Martin, driver; Cara Romeo, goalkeeper; Sophomore: Leah Hummel, center
Outlook: The Mustangs are in rebuilding mode after losing several key players from last year’s hugely successful squad. In order to compete with the other Naperville schools, DePasquale is counting on the contributions of those listed above and the development of a promising group of upperclassmen who were waiting their turn for pool time last year. Raczak is being counted on to lead the Mustangs on offense, while Krey is aggressive and smart and can defend the hole. Hummel is a great addition and the offense will go through her. “It’s hard to say how we’ll do at this point,” said DePasquale. “We’re counting on so many inexperienced players that we’ll have to get a few games under our belt before we see how good we can be.”

Naperville Central
Coach: Jeff Plackett
Last year: 33-3, lost to Fenwick in the state championship game
Top players: Seniors: Madison Nervig, Erin Reagan, Jenny Doyle, Leslie Calabrese, Sarah Borton; Juniors: Kristina Altuve, Michelle Spaits; Jessica Fox, goalie; Sophomore Beth Ryan
Outlook: The Redhawks graduated three All-Americans from a team that was runner-up in state, but there’s plenty of talent to carry on the school’s girls water polo tradition. Nervig and Reagan are tested all-star caliber players who stepped up big in the postseason. They’re ready to take leadership roles. Altuve brings the kind of enthusiasm and aggressiveness that will help keep the Redhawks among the leaders, while Calabrese and Borton (the top scorers on the junior varsity) will have to make up for some of the offense the team lost when Abbey Kerth graduated. “This year everyone is going to have to do a little bit of everything,” said Plackett. “We have a new offensive scheme that requires everyone to play every position. We’ll be working hard to make sure our defense maintains its high quality.” Naperville Central should again be among the top teams in Illinois.

Naperville North
Coach: Andy McWhirter
Last year: 22-10, lost to Metea Valley in the sectional semifinals
Top players: Seniors: Taylor Bridgman, utility, Kim Lechowicz, utility; Juniors: Kate MacDuff, goalie; Dani DiMatteo; Sophomore: Jillian Eiken, utility; Freshmen: Katie Horn, attacker; Caitlyn Holzer, utility, Taylor Stoner, utility,
Outlook: After suffering heavy graduation losses, the Huskies will probably take a little while to develop into the powerful outfit McWhirter expects them to be by the end of the season. “It will take some time to build rhythm and for everyone to get to know each other,” McWhirter said. The Huskies have a lot of speed and depth. Bridgman will lead the scoring parade, and she’s also capable of setting up her teammates. MacDuff is a potential shutdown goalie. Eiken and Lechowicz are crafty veterans and DiMatteo brings a strong physical game. The three freshmen will make a difference immediately, especially the speedy Horn, who, along with Holzer has a great deal of club experience at the national level. And Stoner gives the Huskies an added weapon capable of filling a number of roles.

Neuqua Valley
Coach: Lucy Tiffin
Last year: 11-15-2, lost to Naperville Central to finish fourth at sectionals
Top players: Seniors: Brooke Bedford, attacker; Deanna Hoff, center defender; Ann Kathrin Becker, attacker; Devon Olson, center; Juniors: Kaitlyn Gorski, attacker; Sydney Gathe, goalie; Sophomore: Morgan Miller, attacker
Outlook: There’s outstanding talent at the top starting with speedy veteran Bedford, a leader and captain who understands the game and is always a threat to put the ball in the net, and Hoff, a skilled all-around player. Gathe, was an impressive stopper on the jv team last year and she’s being counted on to succeed in her first year in the varsity net. In order to challenge for a sectional title, the Wildcats will have to develop a balanced offense that can convert consistently from a variety of positions. “We don’t have a lot of players,” said Tiffin. “But, we’re comfortable that we can trust everyone who will get playing time. We’re physical, smart and aggressive on defense and we have solid communication and impressive speed.“

Waubonsie Valley
Coach: Diana Mehl
Last year: 3-20, finished sixth in the sectional
Top players: Senior: Neha Khanna, goalie; Juniors: Molly Devine, left attacker, Smantha Holzschu, defensive hole; Haley Mulherin, utility; Freshman: Kimela Srey, attacker.
Outlook: For most of last season the predominantly sophomore Warriors team was just learning the game, but Mehl could see them making progress toward the end of the campaign. Now those youngsters are mature and ready to compete at a higher level. Devine, is a good two-way player, who has two years of varsity experience. And freshman Srey is a natural talent who is expected to be a difference-maker. The versatile Mulherin will probably serve as the team’s sprinter, while Holzschu and Khanna worked hard in the offseason to bring their game up a couple of notches. “Our defense is strong,” said Mehl. “We know how to shift positions, trap and close. And, as a team, we have good quickness. I think we’re capable of finishing at or above. .500.”


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