The OPRF field hockey team, which lost to Lake Forest twice during the regular season, hoped that the third time would be the charm against the Huskies' North Shore rivals in the Illinois High School Field Hockey Association state title game Saturday at Oak Park Stadium. Instead, the Scouts captured their third consecutive state championship with a memorable 2-1 overtime victory.
With the score tied at 1-1 after regulation play, the Scouts' Sarah Mynhier took full advantage of a breakaway opportunity and blasted the game-winning goal passed OPRF All-state goalie Kelsey Rosenquist with 1:47 remaining in overtime.
During the first half, the Scouts dictated play with solid stick skills to grab a 1-0 lead; however, the Huskies seized the momentum on a game-tying goal by Grace Shirreff at the 17:15 mark of the second half. The Scouts applied pressure offensively with a series of corner plays and shots on goal, but the Huskies' defense notably the brilliant play of Rosenquist held Lake Forest scoreless in the second half. OPRF was able to counter attack when Sherrif scored, assisted by senior Mattie Prodanovic.
"In the second half, we just wanted to receive the ball better," said OPRF coach Barb Liles. "That made a difference for us, allowing us to be more on the attack. I was really pleased. We were so in there in the second half and probably made [Lake Forest] a little nervous."
Amazingly, Shirreff's clutch goal was the first and final score allowed by the Scouts all season. The Scouts (21-0) outscored their opponents 62-0 during a dominant regular season.
Lake Forest peppered Rosenquist with 34 shots on goal while the Huskies managed merely three shots on goal. In spite of this statistical disparity, the determined Huskies were in good position to pull out a victory, fueled by tremendous defense and spirited team play.
Hanna Rasche, Molly Sinnott, Nicole Cordero, Alison Colucci, Jane Brennan, Emma Jasinski and Abby Rosenwinkel all played well in the hard-fought final that lasted 70 minutes.
"I think we were a bit discombobulated at the start of the game. We weren't really playing Huskie hockey," Prodanovic said. "We picked it up in the second half and played great in the overtime.
"This game was so typical for us against Lake Forest. They get that one breakaway and that's the difference. But we tried our best and have no regrets."
Like Lake Forest, the Huskies have a stellar tradition in field hockey, including eight state championships under Liles' guidance. This season, OPRF proudly claims a runner-up finish in state, a 21-5-2 record and five All-state players. Most of all, Liles and her team are sure to savor something that will not be displayed in the school trophy case-the team's chemistry and lasting friendships.
"It took awhile our team to get fired up but once we did, we just dominated," said Rosenquist, who was chosen as the IHSFHA Player of the Year. "We played as a team, not as individuals. This team is amazing. We're all friends, and I'll never forget them."
The rest of the OPRF team includes: Coach Linda Carlson, Lauren Gonzalez, Shannon Weigel, Morgan Flint, Emmet Drews, Megan Scotty, Kristin KwaKwa, Lizzie Optholt, Taylor Stamm, Katie O'Meara, Karen Zelby and Megan White.
With 14 returning players next season, the Huskies will be reloaded for another run at state, but Liles was quite content to enjoy the moment on Saturday.
"This was an awesome group of kids," Liles said. "We took an approach that we win as a team and we lose as a team, which the girls really came to understand over the course of the season."