St. Charles North's boys water polo team spends a great deal of time working on its defense.
"The first few weeks of practice, it was just defense," said senior Nick Traxler. "We didn't even shoot at the net."
Lately, however, the North Stars have devoted a little more time on the offensive end.
The results have been plentiful.
St. Charles North (7-3-1) reached the 15-goal mark for the second consecutive game during Thursday's 15-2 victory over cross-town rival St. Charles East (2-9) in the North Stars' pool.
Last season, the North Stars dropped a tough 10-9 decision to the Saints -- a loss that didn't sit well with several St. Charles North players.
"Last year, we came in thinking we were going to win which is never a good idea," said Traxler. "This year, we made sure we focused and we got things done early."
Traxler, who led the way with 5 goals, started the scoring on a penalty shot 3 minutes into the action. Junior hole-set John Pretet (4 goals) added a pair of first-quarter tallies sandwiched around a goal by Ross Davis as the North Stars grabbed an early 4-0 lead.
"Usually our struggle is on offense but we got in some work during the week on offense and it has showed," said Traxler.
St. Charles North kept the pressure on the Saints during a 5-goal second quarter that included 2 more tallies from Pretet and single goals from Davis, Traxler and Chris Stanek.
"We talked about it after last weekend -- trying to be a little bit more efficient on the offensive end," said North Stars coach Chris Cloy. "We're trying to value each possession and when we've had opportunities the last couple games we've been able to take advantage of them. That has been encouraging."
The Saints' Tyler Van Gyseghem ended goalie Collin Bawolek's shutout bid midway through the second quarter but still trailed 9-1 at halftime.
Traxler accounted for half of the North Stars' second-half offense with 3 goals while Nathan Bawolek had a pair of goals and Davis added his third tally of the game.
"We have a lot of players on the perimeter that can score when they're given the opportunity," said Cloy, whose team is 4-0-1 in its last 5 games. "Today, you kind of saw that."
Scott Rogman scored the Saints' other goal while heavily pressured goalie Peter Roach recorded 14 saves.
"The program is heavy with freshmen and sophomores," said Saints first-year coach Tim O'Grady. "I've had to teach a lot. The guys are picking stuff up real quickly but what we're trying to grow on is water polo awareness.
"They're really great swimmers so we're just trying to get in the pool and play as much as possible to learn."
Despite the offensive onslaught, Cloy was even more impressed with his team's defensive effort.
"To me, giving up just two goals was the best part of the day," said Cloy. "I think we only gave up three shots in the first half. It was great to see the defense work and Collin (Bawolek) did a great job when he had shots on him."