Fenwick turns away Stevenson
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Host Stevenson knew it had a huge task on its hands in attempting to knock off perennial power Fenwick Saturday night for the boys water polo state championship.
And after a one-year hiatus, the Friars' dynasty returned to the mountain top as they built a 7-3 lead over the Patriots after three quarters before finishing an impressive 10-4 victory for first place in Lincolnshire.
Fenwick (31-5) has now won 10 state titles, including nine crowns in the past 10 seasons.
Stevenson (23-10-1) earned its fourth top-three trophy in its eighth Elite Eight appearance, and its first since 2004.
Trailing 4-2 at halftime, the Pats could not slow down the Friars momentum in the third quarter despite the outstanding defense of senior goalie Rob O'Brien.
O'Brien shattered the previous record of 17 saves in a game with an amazing 28 stops, which should keep him in the record books for a very long time.
A long goal from the right wing by Stevenson's Varun Mummadi cut Fenwick's lead to 5-3 with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
But a second goal from UCLA-bound Matt Farmer boosted the lead to 6-3 just 42 seconds later. Then teammate Justin White's goal as the third-quarter clock expired proved to be the real back-breaker, giving the Friars a comfortable 7-3 advantage.
"I knew that I would be just berated with shots, and I had to treat each defensive possession like it's the first one," said O'Brien, whose team was tied 2-2 with Fenwick after one quarter. "We're satisfied, we knew it was going to be a hard game against a dominant opponent."
The contest continued to go Fenwick's way in the fourth quarter as Danny Farmer assisted Trevor McLean for the goal and an 8-3 lead with 3:40 to play.
Stevenson senior Taylor Baretz scored from the right point to cut the gap to 8-4 with 2:38 remaining.
But Fenwick's outstanding passing and balanced offensive attack proved to be too much as the Danny Farmer-to-McLean combination worked again for a 9-4 lead with 1:57 to go.
McLean assisted Matt Bresnahan to close out the scoring with 1:19 left. Josh Weisberg and Mitchell Sokolsky had goals for the Pats in the first half, but the Patriots could never get their offense going against the stubborn Fenwick defense.
"Our goalie (Tommy McGuire) is amazing, and we're going to miss him next year," said Fenwick coach Kyle Perry. "We try to press as much as we can on defense, and for us defense is just the start of our offensive attack."
Stevenson coach Sean Wimer was very happy with his squad's effort Saturday as the Pats posted an 8-5 victory over St. Ignatius College Prep in the semifinals to reach the title game.
"We had our opportunities (against Fenwick), and if we converted some of those six-on-fives we wouldn't have been trailing at halftime," Wimer said. "Rob (O'Brien) proved he was the best goalie in the state and if he's not first-team all-state it's a sham."
In the third-place game, Naperville North (30-3) routed St. Ignatius 20-7. Fenwick has won every state title except for in 2003 (Brother Rice) and 2012 (Lyons).
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