Second-place state finish for Stevenson
Bittersweet is probably the best way to describe what kind of day the Stevenson boys water polo team had.
After finishing fourth in the state a year ago, the quest for that elusive first state championship fell a little short, as the Patriots lost to Lyons 9-6 in the championship game at Stevenson on Saturday night.
It still marked the farthest the boys program has ever advanced in the state tournament.
Stevenson, which finished 27-7 on the season, got off to a slow start and trailed 4-1 after the opening quarter. The lone Patriot goal was scored by attacker Kurt Holzer.
The Pats played with more aggression and a sense of urgency in the second period and trailed only 5-3 at halftime. Second-quarter goals were scored by utility player Andrew Shashin and attacker Alex Kapecki, who took a beautiful pass from Holzer.
Lyons created a little space by jumping ahead 7-4 after three periods. Holzer knocked in his second goal of the game for the Pats' only tally in the third.
Then came a wild fourth period.
Realizing seven minutes remained in the season, Stevenson made one final push. After Holzer dished off to Shashin to cut it to 7-5, Alex Kapecki's touch pass to utility player Cristiano Tomassetti with 2:50 left in regulation found the Pats down only 7-6 and the Stevenson faithful going crazy.
But after a penalty on the Pats, Lyons again created a little cushion by answering right back with a goal to make it 8-6 with 1:32 left. Lyons added one more insurance goal in the closing seconds for the final margin of victory.
Patriots keeper Shaurya Gilani was terrific in goal, making numerous point-blank saves. He finished stopping 13 shots in the losing cause.
The Pats' day had gotten off to a flying start when they beat top-ranked Fenwick 8-7 in semifinal action. It was sweet revenge as Stevenson had lost to the Friars three previous times this spring. Shashin scored 3 goals, Tomassetti added 2, and the Kapecki brothers and Holzer added 1 goal apiece to round out the scoring. When not scoring, Holzer was busy dishing out passes to the tune of 7 assists.
Gilani was big again in goal, stopping 9 shots for Stevenson.