Spring Girls Water Polo Preview 2023

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We jump in the water. I will walk you through the girls water polo preview, including another look at a defending champion. This preview is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Back-to-back defending state champions Naperville North

We jump into the pool with back-to-back state champions Naperville North who has gone 62-1-1 over the previous two seasons, culminating in the State titles. However, in 2023 it’s a new bunch of Huskies after the graduations of Claire Jansen, Sarah Crossett, Alex Mantel, goalkeeper Ella Selman and many other seniors who made major contributions during their campaign. But the cupboard is far from bare. Returning for the dogs is leading scorer Kelsey Wessel, Sophie Raquel and Claire’s sister Calista Jansen. 

“Every season is always exciting seeing what the new crop of girls will be able to do. We’ve got some good incoming freshmen who have done some outside pool work with ODP. The entire team did some offseason polo training, whether it was locally here in Naperville or up in New Alliance, stuff like that. So they’re coming in with a good deal of skill and ready to go.” said Naperville North Girls Water Polo Coach Andy McWhirter. 

Those three along with many new varsity faces in the pool, are ready to begin the quest for a three-peat, beginning with the conference opener against Neuqua Valley. 

Naperville Central looks to continue its elite level

We hop into the Huskies’ crosstown rivals from Naperville Central. After three straight State appearances from 2015-2017 the Redhawks have fallen in four consecutive sectional finals to Naperville North. This year’s Redhawk pack brings back Annika Patel, Juliana Russo, and goalkeeper Clare Shiffer hoping to dethrone the Huskie and return to their contending ways. Those seniors are ready to lead the charge for the Hawks, hoping to get over the sectional hump for the first time since 2017. Despite being stymied by the Huskies in recent years, the program remains one the best in the state. Head Coach Jeff Plackett is excited to see what the Redhawks bring to the pool this spring. 

“Our captains did an outstanding job of organizing offseason workouts where they spent the last couple of months really nurturing those newer girls who are playing. So we’re doing a little bit less teaching and were able to focus more on X’s and O’s and rotations right from the start of the year,” said Naperville Central Girls Water Polo Coach Jeff Plackett. 

The conference polo season begins for Central against Waubonsie Valley on March 14th. 

Waubonsie Valley replacing impressive seniors

Let’s jump over to Waubonsie Valley, who the Redhawks knocked out in the sectional semifinals. The Warriors did pick up over 20 wins last year but lost a strong group of seniors that led them to their 20 win season. Sophomore Ruby Meier and senior Alex Skurka are two returners hoping to build off on last season’s success. With those two leading the new faces in green and gold, it will be exciting to see what Chris Hagenbaumer’s squad will bring to the table. The season is underway with a couple games already in the books. The Warriors will take on Naperville Central in the conference opener on March 14th. 

Metea Valley bringing back experience

Metea Valley flipped the script in 2022, becoming one of the most improved teams in the state after only winning one game in the previous season. Despite getting eliminated by Naperville North in the sectional semifinals the Mustangs picked up 16 wins last spring. In 2023 they bring back many experienced players hoping to keep the juice flowing. Kyra Henkle, Allsion Leslie, Sarah Voakes, and Julia Carter all got varsity playing time a year ago. They will be pivotal if they want to hang with any of the local powerhouse teams this spring and battle for a top-three spot in the DVC.

Neuqua Valley making changes at the top

We wrap up with Neuqua Valley, who went through another coaching change. Former boys assistant coach Lew Kasten will be taking over the girls roster hoping for positive new beginnings for the blue and gold. The Wildcats only had three seniors in 2022 but players like Alexis Kuebelbeck, Nicky Perea are back in the pool to lead sixteen new swimmers who drew interest in the sport. The Wildcats have a chance to turn the table after only winning three games last season. The season is already underway. The Wildcats will face a massive early test, beginning conference play March 14th against back-to-back state champion, Naperville North. 

Check out the other previews here!