Fenwick edges OPRF in girls water polo instant classic

Friars rally from early deficit to win sectional in overtime, advance to state quarters

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Matt Le Cren

Contributing Reporter

Fenwick's Anna Sullivan and Kelly Frumkin had been in this position before and were not worried.

The Friars had made a habit of overcoming slow starts this season, so it was no surprise when they fell behind crosstown rival Oak Park and River Forest early in the York Sectional final on Saturday.

"We don't give up," said Sullivan, a senior goalie. "Even though it looked bad, we know that we can come back from anything if we put our minds to it."

In this case the Friars rallied from a four-goal deficit to knock off the top-seeded Huskies 12-9 in overtime in a game that will go down as an instant classic.

Frumkin, a junior, scored four goals, including the go-ahead and eventual game-winning tallies in the first overtime, to lead second-seeded Fenwick (27-5-1) to its 13th consecutive sectional title.

The Friars will play New Trier in the state quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Stevenson.

"We're excited to move on to state next weekend," Frumkin said. "The most important part of this team is that we're like a family and we have each other's backs and we work together to push through."

Fenwick had a lot to push through, starting with the scuttlebutt that said this would finally be the year OPRF would prevail in what has been a one-sided rivalry.

The Huskies (30-3) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, holding the Friars scoreless until Catie Wallace scored on a breakaway with 3:59 left in the second quarter. OPRF led 6-2 late in third quarter and still looked to be in command after senior Jilly Cronin scored to make it 7-4 with 6:25 to go in the fourth quarter.

But four different players scored as the Friars took an 8-7 lead before Cronin tied it on a lob shot at the 2:09 mark. Wallace had two chances to win it in regulation, but one shot hit the crossbar and OPRF goalie Kaitlyn Peterson stopped the other as time expired.

But the Friars would not be stopped in overtime. Wallace opened the second overtime by swimming nearly the length of the pool before scoring to make it 11-8 and Jillian Wickham added an insurance goal before Cronin finished the scoring with 49 seconds left.

"We don't give up," Sullivan said. "Our team works well together and once we realized that we needed to get going and get stuff done, we got it done."

"I think they took some good shots at the end and really kicked it into high gear in overtime," OPRF coach Beth Perez said. "We just couldn't catch up."

In the first half, the Friars couldn't catch a break, watching seven shots hit the crossbar or a post.

"It just pushed us to try harder and make sure that our shots were going on goal," Frumkin said. "Instead of falling apart and getting worried, we stuck together as a team and continued to persevere and fight through it."

Wallace and Wickham each had three goals, while Forst and Eryn Kulik scored once and Sullivan made 10 saves for Fenwick, which was in the unusual position of underdog.

"Coming in as the underdog actually gave us more motivation to play our hearts out, to prove everyone wrong," Sullivan said. "Everyone in Oak Park was saying that Oak Park is going to beat us, but we fight for everything and we don't let anything get us down.

"We were playing for our season and we wanted one more week."

That's something one of the most talented teams in OPRF history will not get even though Cronin had five goals and Michigan recruit Genevieve Curry added three.

"It was a really fun season," Cronin said. "I think we had the best team that we've had in a long time. Of course it is disappointing that we lost now, but I think overall it was a great season.

"Fenwick is a very good team so they know how to keep swimming all the way through the end of the game. They did a good job, but I hope that next year the rest of us can come back and beat them."

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