Boys water polo: Stevenson gets past Conant
If you were to ask Stevenson boys water polo coach Jeff Wimer to describe his approach in figuring out how to play the 10 sophomores on his roster, it's as simple as what each player does prior to the start of each match.
Taking a plunge into the water.
"We're a young team," Wimer said with a laugh before his team's Thursday evening bout at Conant. "We'll play five of them at a time."
After his squad posted a 12-8 win over a previously undefeated Cougar team, Wimer flashed a smile.
"A lot of our younger guys are very experienced players -- not at this level," Wimer said. "It was a tale of two halves for us."
That tale didn't get off to a good start for the Patriots (5-3) as they missed 10 of their first 13 shots on goal in the first half and trailed Conant 4-3.
After Cougar senior attacker Alex Hirjoi's second goal put Conant up 5-3 with 4:55 left in the third frame, it would be one of Stevenson's 10 sophomores, Dimitriy Kobets, who served as the catalyst for the Patriots' comeback as he worked to get senior teammates Filip Mihajlovic, Nikolas Ebeling and fellow sophomore Samuel Maya the ball. Each member of the trio scored twice to give the Patriots a 9-5 advantage 84 seconds into the fourth.
The host school (8-1) made a furious rally, scoring three times in a span of 1:37 that pulled it within 9-8 with 3:07 left as senior Justin Lim (3 goals) connected on back-to-back scores, followed by Hirjoi's third score of the evening.
But it would be Kobets, whose third goal with 56 ticks left, along with goals by Nathan Mossman and Ebeling's third score that settled things in the Patriots' favor.
A member of last year's Elite Eight qualifier as a freshman, Kobets takes a simple approach to helping his team's development as it will host Winter Park (FL) Friday.
"We want everybody to be able to shoot, to create," Kobets said. "Overall, we want everybody to be on the same level of intensity and shooting skills so we can win."
For Conant coach Tim Daniel, his team's first loss of the season serves as a teaching tool with a 12-day break before their next game at Schaumburg on April 3.
"(It's) the first time we trailed all season," Daniel said. "It was good to get punched in the mouth. It shows us what we have to work on and that's what makes us better."