Wherever Deerfield’s Katherine Rogers swims, everyone seems to follow.
Water polo standout Rogers was one of the top scorers in the northern suburbs with 71 goals (plus six assists) this season alone. Her output means opponents have targeted her.
“Not many teams will guard her one-on-one,” Deerfield coach Matt Nurre said. “They double-team her, or do a 2-4 drop [zone defense].”
Rogers, a sophomore, plays the hole set position, which is right in front of the opposing goal at the 2-meter mark. While she said “it’s nice that teams double-team me” — a nod to her scoring skills — that can make it difficult to get open.
“She is really, really talented. She can score from so many different angles it’s amazing,” sophomore teammate Naomi Willis said. “No one can cover her.”
Rogers has the “it factor,” Nurre said.
In a recent match against crosstown rival Highland Park, Rogers found the net five times despite facing double and triple teams.
“Anytime you have to create a strategy to attempt to limit the production of one player, that says a lot about that player,” Highland Park coach Danny Weinberg said. “We put such a strong emphasis on stopping her that it limits what we can do offensively.”
In the Highland Park match, Rogers was getting surrounded in the hole set, so she moved outside to the 6-meter mark, where she rifled a shot past the Giants’ goalie. On another occasion, Rogers saw that the Giants were overplaying her and found Willis driving in for an easy goal.
According to Nurre, one of Rogers’ biggest strengths is her aggressiveness. And when a game features constant contact, Rogers is eager to mix it up.
“Sometimes teams guarding me can be a little much [physically], but you have to be tough out there,” Rogers said.
Rogers, who started playing water polo at age 8, was on Deerfield’s swim team as a freshman, specializing in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter breaststroke. After taking this year off, Rogers said she plans to get back in the pool to compete in the fall.
Looking down the road, Rogers — a member of Glenbrook Aquatics — said she might travel to California this summer to play for an elite club team. She also said she would “definitely love to play in college.”
But for the next two years, it’s all about Deerfield water polo.
“We have a young team with six sophomores and a lot of them will be playing club,” Rogers said. “I’m really excited about what we can do next year.”