Left to right: Katelyn Stowe, Claire Cervi, Gemma Sambugaro, Madyn Dron | Bill Stone

Riverside-Brookfield High School girls water polo seniors Claire Cervi, Madyn Dron, Gemma Sambugaro and Katelyn Stowe had even more motivation on April 27. It was Senior Night for the four-year team members.

“I invited like 20 different people to come, and they all live like an hour away,” Sambugaro said. “Some family, some people that I’ve known since I was 6years old, all of my friends from high school, they’re all here to support me. That really made me look forward to the event.”

The Bulldogs more than rose to the occasion. Down three goals at halftime, they scored six unanswered goals and pulled out an 8-6 victory over St. Charles East.

“It was definitely one of the best games we’ve had, I’d say, because there were so many people that were here to support us and love us,” Sambugaro said. “I think that definitely made us more confident.”

Priscilla Gil (4 goals, 2 steals), Cervi (3 goals), Olivia Dobbe (goal, 4 assists, 2 steals), goalie Edie Hamilton (15 saves, assist), Lorelei Leimberer and Sambugaro (assist each) and Isabella Gonzalez (2 steals) contributed to the Bulldogs’ success. 

RBHS (3-12-1) snapped a three-game losing streak and scored its second-most goals in a match other than losing to the Saints 16-12 on April 15. 

“We need that momentum going into the last couple of weeks of the season. If we play like we did today, I think we’re going to be good,” first-year RBHS head coach Amy Frey said. 

Senior Night inspired Stowe to rejoin the lineup after being out recently with a knee injury. She started with the other seniors but could only last a couple of minutes. 

“This is the first game that I’ve played in like two weeks,” Stowe said. “I skipped warmups in the hope that I could play for a little bit, and it didn’t go too good.”

Cervi epitomized the second half. During halftime, Cervi was coughing uncontrollably at the end of the pool. By the third quarter, she scored three consecutive goals assisted by Dobbe that tied the game 5-5 after three quarters. 

Gil put the Bulldogs ahead to stay with a flick shot behind her back with 3:57 remaining. Dobbe scored on a long swim from Hamilton’s lead pass with 2:19 to go and Gil rebounded her blocked shot with 1:41 to go for an 8-5 lead.

“Getting three goals in a row is really rewarding,” Cervi said. “At one point we thought maybe it wasn’t going to be in the tides for us, but we support each other and stay strong and then come out with the win.”

Hamilton especially was instrumental early with two first-half breakaway stops that limited the halftime deficit to 5-2. 

“Edie was stopping everything. She did incredible. And they were good saves that we needed,” Frey said. “When you have a goalie that’s working that hard, everybody else wants to kind of work as hard, too.”