Down 6-3 entering the fourth quarter Saturday, Mother McAuley’s sectional title streak seemed to be in jeopardy. The Mighty Macs, though, weren’t panicking.
“We just had to push ourselves,” McAuley’s Maggie Hennigan said. “We knew we could do it and we did.”
Hennigan led the charge as the top-seeded Mighty Macs rallied to force overtime and pulled out a 9-7 win over No. 3 Bremen Co-op in the Stagg Sectional championship at Lincoln-Way Central.
“It’s exciting,” Hennigan said. “We lost a lot of players from last year, so it’s great to make it back to state this year.”
McAuley (23-7) will make its fourth consecutive appearance at state when it takes on Palatine in a state quarterfinal set for 8:15 p.m. Friday at Stevenson.
Neither team scored in the first overtime period and for nearly two minutes of the second before Fran Williamson (2 goals) found the net from the point with 1:15 to go. After Geena Peyton (14 saves) made a stop on the other end, Hennigan scored her fourth goal of the game on a long shot with 30 seconds left to seal it.
Mary June O’Connell added two goals and Clare Bryar one for McAuley.
Hannah Schultz and Sarah Minnich paced Bremen (24-8) with three goals each.
The Mighty Macs scored four unanswered goals to open the fourth, with Hennigan providing the game-tying score with 2:20 to go and the go-ahead goal with 1:32 left.
Schultz tied it on a laser from the point with 26 seconds to go.
“We had to switch things up,” McAuley coach Vanessa Carroll said. “We had Clare guarding (Schultz) and we moved Fran (Williamson) to her so we could bring Clare outside to run the offense. Her and the young girls like (Hennigan) got the offense going.”
Bremen, in search of its first state appearance, outscored McAuley 5-2 over the middle two quarters and took the 6-3 lead to the fourth after Minnich scored twice from outside in the final minute of the third.
“We knew McAuley would bring the intensity in the fourth quarter,” Bremen coach Todd Strein said. “(Bryar) did a great job for them and we didn’t make adjustments fast enough. It just wasn’t in the cards.
“I hope people recognize that Bremen has a quality water polo program. It was built from the ground up and it took a lot of energy and it’s starting to pay off.”