The Oak Park and River Forest High School girls water polo season was delayed as the Huskies missed two games due to quarantining as a result of COVID-19.
Despite this, the enthusiasm has not been dampened, and coach Elizabeth Perez and her players are thankful to be playing after having last season canceled due to the pandemic.
“It feels amazing to be back,” said Perez, a 1998 OPRF graduate in her 17th year as coach. “We were all ecstatic for a season, even with precautions, because it’s better than no season at all.”
Seniors Rory Cronin and Adeline Kosterman are expected to supply offensive firepower for OPRF. Other top returning players include seniors Lauren Fricker, Beverly Lundeen, Annabelle Richert and Jasmine Wood.
Newcomers Regan Mary Cronin and Ashby Steward-Nolan are expected to make an impact on the Huskies, whose strengths are intelligence and defense according to Perez.
Above all else, Perez wants her team to enjoy this season, which is a healthy perspective given the circumstances.
“Our players want to have fun, which makes sense if you look at last season being lost,” she said. “They realize that the team aspect is more important than winning, but we also do want to be competitive.”
The West Suburban Silver is one of the area’s more competitive conferences for water polo. OPRF should be in contention for the title, along with Lyons Township and York.
“We should be formidable competition for both of those teams and hopefully win some, if not all of those contests,” Perez said.
OPRF is off to a 1-2 start. On April 6, the Huskies opened with a convincing 12-5 victory over visiting Morton. Rory Cronin was dominant, tallying 7 goals and 5 assists against the Mustangs, while goalie Regan Mary Cronin made 14 saves.
On April 8, OPRF fell 16-6 at Lyons Township. Rory Cronin paced the Huskies with three goals for the evening. Then on April 10, OPRF lost 12-6 to host Hinsdale Central, getting another three goals from Rory Cronin and 15 saves from Regan Mary Cronin.
Regardless of the season’s outcome, Perez feels her team has grown mentally as a result of the adversity of the past year.
“My players have handled the uncertainty and extra precautions extremely well, even in light of the recent quarantine,” she said.
The Huskies’ next matches are scheduled for April 13 at York and April 15 at home versus Hinsdale South.