Fremd floats to MSL championship
The Fremd boys water polo program sure reached a high-water mark Wednesday.
In a dominant display, the Vikings won the Mid-Suburban League championship 16-3 over visiting Buffalo Grove.
For seniors such as Fremd's Andre Degla, it was the fulfillment of four years worth of planning.
"For the guys in my class, we were really talking about this going back to freshman year," said Degla. "We talked about really doing something special with our time here at Fremd."
Mission accomplished. Degla didn't score but was representative of how Fremd (23-6) won the game — disruptive defense. Buffalo Grove (17-8) had a hard time possessing the ball, and a difficult time getting it into scoring position in the game's early stages.
The frequent Bison turnovers led to a few fastbreak goals, but the main consequence was that Fremd was able to manage its own possessions in an organized, deliberate and ultimately effective way.
"I told our goalie, Max Plichta, to hang on to the ball and really make sure we were together," said Fremd coach Brian Newby, who adds his first boys championship to the four straight league titles he'd won as the Vikings girls coach. "BG is a really good swimming team, so by slowing things down, that would work in our favor."
To borrow a basketball analogy, Fremd took the air out of the ball. And after a shot taken by BG standout Ian Rodriguez in the second quarter, the ball, sporting a gash, did have to be replaced.
Still, the goals came quickly for Fremd. It was 5-0 after the first quarter and 9-1 at the half.
JP French finished with 3, while Austin Smock, Matt Zambelli, Ryan Helsdingen, Dillon Heinlein and Matt Emerson had 2 apiece.
Helsdingen, Smock and John Ostman consistently caused trouble while defending the perimeter, and the Vikings quickly and efficiently converted all their man-up opportunities.
Rodriguez scored all 3 goals for BG, one in the second quarter and the last two after Fremd had subbed in its reserves in the final two minutes.
"Ultimately it comes down to the fact that these kids put in the work," said Newby. "They really embraced the ideas and philosophies I presented to them about the game should be played, and it's really paid off for them. I'm just really proud of them and happy for them."
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