Where's Kamil Mulawa?
For a few seconds, as time expired in the third quarter, that was the question of the night in a Vernon Hills boys water polo sectional semifinal between Palatine and Libertyville on Friday.
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Mulawa, a Palatine senior hole-set, was underwater … completely, and with the ball in his hand. As he resurfaced, he skipped a backhanded shot past Libertyville keeper Clayton Kullander.
It was astonishing, magical.
Spectators should have been required to pay extra, as they exited, following Palatine's 13-5 victory.
"After that goal? I just smiled," said Pirates coach Joe Grzybek. "That was all about instinct meeting opportunity."
It was Mulawa's fourth goal of the quarter, putting his top-seeded club up 10-5. He finished with 8 goals.
Palatine (25-6) faces McHenry (28-4) for the sectional title today at 1:15 p.m.; McHenry edged Palatine 9-8 in a sectional final last spring.
Eighth-seeded Libertyville (16-16) led 4-3 at the break Friday night. Tommy Keefe, Ian Kinsella and Ben Snader found the net for the Wildcats.
"Libertyville played well, definitely," said Mulawa. "We got angry, a little, in the third quarter because we didn't play our game in the first half. But we also upped the intensity for the entire second half."
The Pirates outscored the Wildcats 7-1 in the game-changing third frame, with Pirates senior John Giuliano authoring 2 of his 4 goals.
"We gave a very good team a run, didn't we? Especially in the first half," said Libertyville coach Ivan Munoz. "We got in there, ready to go. Palatine has a good group of boys, it's also a well-coached team."
McHenry 8, Mundelein 7: Brawn (McHenry) vs. finesse (Mundelein).
That was how Mundelein coach Rahul Sethna described the second boys quarterfinal at VH Friday night.
Strength won … barely.
"Teams with contrasting styles," Sethna said beforehand. "We like to swim fast, drive. McHenry is physical."
McHenry struck for 2 goals in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter.
The Mustangs, seeded third, cut the second-seeded Warriors' lead to 8-7 at 1:04 of the final quarter.
"We had our chances," Sethna said. "But we couldn't convert some 1-on-nones."
Senior Will Falconer paced Mundelein with 2 goals.