Boys water polo: Winning ride for Stevenson at Mundelein
Fasten those seatbelts, because the intensity in the pool is peaking as we head into the stretch run of the boys water polo season.
And getting a good tune-up for the postseason never hurts the cause, which was the case on Saturday at the Mundelein quad.
Top-ranked Stevenson took advantage of it most by remaining unbeaten on the season after going 3-0 in the event, while Naperville Central finished 2-1.
The marquee match-up of the day pitted the Pats against the reigning state champ Redhawks.
Stevenson, which has rarely trailed this season, had fallen behind 4-2 at halftime before going on to win 6-5.
"We were rushing our shots a little and got a little complacent," said Pats coach Sean Wimer, whose troops improved to 20-0 after the event. "But we settled down and started taking 'our' shots in the second half. It's been a hard week of practice and the guys are tired. But we pushed through."
Justin Ginsberg punched in 3 goals, while Andrew Shashin, Dan Maleski and Collin Kapecki added single goals. Keeper Charlie Day stopped 7 shots in net in the win.
Naperville Central's offense was powered by Matt Reagan's 2 goals, while single goals were tallied by Michael Stern and Luke Klein-Collins. Keeper Kent Emden stopped 8 shots and also scored a goal of his own on a full-pool shot.
"We did a lot of good things today but still need to work on manning up," said Redhawks coach Bill Salentine, whose guys improved to 18-2 overall.
"We've been working hard on our high intensity press defense. But everyone got in and played lots of minutes today."
Naperville Central's final game of the day was a 12-2 victory over Conant, which is 13th-ranked in the state.
The Redhawks offense scored early and often in racing to a 7-1 lead at halftime.
Lucas Nervig scored a hat trick, while Bender Russo and Stern each scored twice. Single goals were added by Reagan, Nolan Vaughn, Christian Fleming, and Klein-Collins. Emden stopped 7 shots in that game.
Naperville Central had earlier beaten host Mundelein 13-3 as Klein-Collins, Stern, and Brad Sanford each popped in 2 goals apiece. Emden (3 saves) and Nolan Vaughn (4 saves) split time in goal.
And speaking of host and upstart Mundelein, Russ Gates and the guys have been improving by leaps and bounds with every passing game.
Today, the Mustangs finished 1-2 with the victory coming 11-5 against Conant.
"Our seniors that played a lot last year are really involved," said Gates, who saw his team improve to 14-12. "They are performing as expected. We're hoping to have a final push and get into a sectional title game."
Those seniors -- Kyle Guzzio, Brandon Kavanaugh, and Nick Oleinik -- have been the leaders and primary threats on offense.
Against Conant, Kavanaugh punched in 4 goals, while Oleinik, Guzzio, and sophomore Ryan Zentz all scored twice.
Junior keeper Shane Stanley stopped 9 Cougars shots.
In the loss to Naperville Central, junior Jake Gonzalez, Garcia, and Oleinik scored single goals and Stanley stopped 7 shots.
Then, Mundelein fell to Stevenson 19-9 as Oleinik scored 4 more goals and Guzzio added 2 in the losing effort. Stanley stopped 5 shots in goal.
For Stevenson, Shashin went crazy in that game to the tune of 9 goals while Maleski complemented him with a hat trick.
Despite a rough 0-3 Saturday and with three sophomores in the starting lineup, Conant is another team on the rise.
Captain and senior Alec Burke scored both goals in the loss to Naperville Central, while keeper Harris Dibek stopped 7 Redhawks shots.
In the loss to Mundelein, Corey Pedro knocked in the hat trick while single goals were scored by Burke and Justin Lim.
"We still have our moments because we're young, but we're doing a lot better than expected," said coach Tim Daniel, whose guys slipped to 11-8 overall after Saturday. "There's a lot of growth, and sometimes to get better, you have to take it on the chin."