Water polo: Wimer wins 800th game as Stevenson punches ticket back to state

The Highland Park girls water polo sectional championship was another typical day for Jeff Wimer and Sophia Berger on Saturday afternoon.

That was good news for Stevenson as Wimer earned his 800th career coaching victory and Berger delivered another solid all-around performance in a 16-2 victory for the defending state champions over Libertyville.

“It’s pretty cool,” Berger said after she delivered 4 goals, 4 assists and 4 steals in Wimer’s milestone. “We’re really honored to be working under a coach that has that many wins and has that high of a reputation.”

Wimer will take an 800-174-3 record (24 seasons at Stevenson, seven at Mundelein) into Friday’s 8:15 p.m. state quarterfinal against St. Ignatius in its home pool. The Patriots (31-1-1) won their 10th consecutive sectional crown and have won 19 in a row since their only loss to Greenwich (Conn.).

But Wimer, the winningest girls coach in state history, humbly deflected his accomplishment while effusively praising Berger. She leads the team in goals, assists and ejections drawn, is second in steals, has a 4.6 weighted GPA and also plays the violin in the orchestra.

“Sophia is a star among stars and more than just in the pool, but outside the pool, too,” Wimer said. “She’s an extremely unselfish player and all about the team. They all understand they need each other.”

Sophia Brown had 3 goals and 4 assists and Olivia Spieth and Emily Headley had 2 goals and 2 assists apiece for the Patriots. Caroline Bickhoff scored 2 goals, Victoria Duncan had a goal and 2 assists, Natalie Hooper had 2 assists and Dhanani Seneviratne and Jillian Carlson added goals.

“One thing we’ve got going for us is none of us in the pool is afraid to share the ball,” Berger said. “We’re able to move the defense around and that makes everyone in the pool a threat.”

Third-seed Libertyville got goals from Payton Howard and Kaitlyn Galloway, but sophomore goalie Elsa Kusevskis blocked 8 shots as the Patriots pursue their sixth state title since 2015 under Wimer.

“We’ve got some small things to work on like passing and small details,” Berger said. “Overall we’re in a good place for next week.”

Stevenson Boys Sectional Streak Hits 12

The top-seeded Stevenson (21-8-1) boys weren’t messing around en route to its 12th consecutive sectional title. Last year’s state runner-up scored the first 9 goals and returned to the Elite Eight with a 13-6 victory over No. 2 Mundelein (17-13-1) at Highland Park.

“Four of our starters are sophomores and freshmen and what’s really happened at practice is we’ve matured and stopped goofing around,” said sophomore Armeet Gill, who had 3 goals in a balanced attack. “We’re all focused on the common goal.”

Which is to make a run at the program’s third state title that will start in Thursday’s 8:15 p.m. quarterfinal at home against York, which split two meetings with the Patriots. Josh Moreyno had 3 goals and 2 assists, Anthony Cardone, Air Force-bound star Olin Kusevskis and Ben Tosyali had 2 goals apiece. Matt Woods and Teddy Weisner had 3 and 2 assists respectively, Jakob Denesha also scored and standout goalie Armaan Gill blocked 14 shots.

“We were active and playing with our legs and not our hands,” Stevenson coach Sean Wimer, who won his 400th match this year, said of his defense. “I felt our boys were really locked in and focused on taking care of business today.”

That included Armeet Gill, Weisner and Teddy Chui on defense as Mundelein didn’t score until Alex Sethna got the first of his 4 goals on a penalty shot 2:22 before halftime.

“The confidence of our team continues to grow,” Wimer said.

“It feels good but the job isn’t finished yet,” Armeet Gill said.

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