- Water Polo Girls
The St. Francis and Sacred Heart Prepgirls’ water polo team had an epic battle yesterday evening at the Holy Cross Aquatics Center. ESPN would dub it an “Instant Classic”. Both squads battle for nearly two hours until the game winner made by St. Francis’ senior Izzy Ditzler with 1:12 remaining in the 6th overtime period. She buried the skip attempt from 7 meters out in front of the goal with only 1 second left on the shot clock. The ball found its way underneath the Sacred Heart Prep goalies’ out stretched arms.
The game was tied at 3 at halftime. It looked as if Sacred Heart Prep was in command after scratching to a two goal lead after 3 periods. The Lady Lancers down 6-4 to start the fourth period ramped up its defense and held the Gator scoreless in the final period of regulation. Junior goalie Natalie Blanc had two critical saves in the shutout period. Senior Izzy Mandema found the back of the net twice in the period to tie the score at 6. One of her goals came via a crucial 6 on 5 situation. It would be the only goal out of nine tries the Lancers would score on the one man advantage. Sacred Heart Prep was able to convert on three of six 6 on 5 advantages.
Per high school rules the teams play two 3 minute overtime period to decide a winner. Sacred Heart Prep went on top first with a goal in the 1st OT period but the Lancer answer with a goal in the 2nd. With the start of the third overtime period the game will be decided with the “Golden Goal”. Each team had limited scoring chances in the 3rd period. In the fourth the Lancers had two 6 on 5s and Sacred Heart Prep’s one. But neither team could find pay dirt. After the scoreless 5th overtime period in which both teams hit the cross bar on various attempts the match moved to the decisive 6th overtime. On the final possession the Sacred Heart Prep defense was very good however a foul was committed on senior Emma Blackburn out top on the perimeter. With the free pass Blackburn found a wide open Ditzler when Sacred Heart Prep dropped off to double team Mandema in the hole set position. Madema already had five goals on the night. After two pump fakes Dizler fired the game clinching shot.
After the match head coach Brendon Reutebuch stated excitedly, "So proud of our girls and how they never stopped fighting off the mental and physical fatigue and found a way to win!"
The 8-7 victory for St. Francis avenges a 4-3 loss to the Gators earlier this year in the Amanda Mac Tournament semi-finals. The Lancers moved into first place in the WCAL with the victory. Sacred Heart will look forward to a likely rematch in the WCAL and CCS playoffs.