ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles North girls water polo team didn’t start Thursday’s game the way it wanted to, and according to head coach Nick Engel, his team knew it.
So perhaps it wasn’t much of a surprise when the North Stars corrected their early game falters and dominated the second half on the road, pulling out a 17-11 win against crosstown rival St. Charles East.
“They came out a little down, not quite ready for the game,” Engel said after the North Stars’ 11th win of the season. “East came out and played a great first half. They did a good job, they played some good offense and they made us look bad on offense. But the only way we’re going to be successful is if we play good defense, which will lead to our offense.”
North trailed, 3-2, after the first quarter, and after the game was tied in the first minute of the second, East continued its strong start with three straight goals. It was then where things turned around for North, which scored four unanswered goals to close the half with a 7-6 lead. The North Stars took over in the third quarter, outscoring East, 5-2, in the period.
“We just played a little better defense,” Engel said. “That’s really what our team’s going to do. If you can play defense, it makes your offense a lot easier.”
North got a strong performance out of Nicole Guyett, who finished with five goals, including three in the decisive third-quarter scoring barrage. Guyett made good use of a powerful behind-the-back scoop shot that accounted for several of her scores.
“Nicole played well,” Engel said. “They did a great job defending her. … She got what she needed to get. She can do a little better, but she had a great game.”
Guyett wasn’t the only player wearing No. 2 to put up big numbers in the pool Thursday. East’s No. 2, Alexandra Kos, scored eight goals for the Saints, including all three in the opening quarter, spurring the team’s strong start.
That included a highlight-reel buzzer-beater from half the length of the pool to end the first quarter.
If North’s start was undesirable, East’s was excellent. The Saints, just 3-6 after Thursday’s game, were very pleased with how things began against the rival North Stars.
“It was a great start,” East head coach Tori Shields said. “We started off strong. If we kept that strong throughout the entire game, I think it would have been a different story. A couple things we’re going to work on, hopefully come back stronger.”