A strong start helped Neuqua Valley take a 14-9 boys water polo victory Thursday at Waubonsie Valley.
The Wildcats outscored Waubonsie 7-3 in the first two quarters behind strong play from junior Simon Shatinsky, who had 5 goals on the night, 3 of them coming in the first quarter.
"We've been working a lot this week coming against their weak shooter," Shatinksy said. "Picking out a weak shooter, dropping off him so we give more credit to their stronger shooters and shut them down and make a weaker guy have the shot. It really showed off well."
Defensively, the Wildcats (4-2) showed their strength in the second quarter specifically, holding Waubonsie (2-5) to just one goal off of a 5-meter penalty shot from Cameron Steele.
Spearheading the Neuqua defense was goalie John Hedderman, who came up with 12 saves on the night, 4 in the final quarter.
"One thing that is really part of our defense this year is really making teams shoot, and one thing that we really try to do is we try and pick out the guys that are at a disadvantage, shooting-wise…," said Wildcats coach Adam Hoffer. "So I think that's both a credit to our defense and credit to John knowing that it's going to be coming his way and knowing he's going to be able to grab a lot of tough shots."
The Warriors fought back late in the third quarter by scoring three goals in the final three minutes, but they couldn't stop Neuqua offensively.
In the fourth Neuqua held onto the lead thanks to two goals from Shatinsky.
"Neuqua just played better than us," said Warriors coach Matt Niemeier. "We didn't come out with a consistent intensity for the game to be in our end, and they beat us on things that we shouldn't be beaten on. They beat us down the pool, and person to person I think we have a faster team. We just didn't do all the things that we had to do correctly to play a good game."
The Warriors' Steele, Bradin Krug and Mitch Kroening all had 2 goals on the night, while goalies Tauras Buzelis and Cedrick Chan finished with 3 saves each.