Boys water polo: On to the semifinals for Stevenson
For Stevenson's boys water polo team, a commitment to getting it right in games is the product of staying focused through preparation.
"Sometimes the best way is to just do it. We practice 6-on-6 game situations all the time in practice," said senior utility co-captain and Naval Academy-bound Andrew Shashin, who pounded in 7 goals during the Patriot's 18-9 victory over Lincoln-Way East in the state quarterfinals on Friday night at Stevenson.
State runners-up a year ago, Stevenson advances to the semifinals where they'll face Naperville Central, an 18-2 winner against St. Ignatius, at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
"We always focus on defense and being quick to the ball," Shashin said. "There were some early jitters, but we're always there to help and encourage each other."
Shashin, the team's leading scorer with 125 goals coming in, got things rolling with his blast into the net just over a minute into the game.
He ended up with a hat trick in the first quarter, while single scores were also recorded by senior center Dan Maleski and junior utility Eric Osuch to give the hosts a 5-0 lead after one period.
And speaking of defense, junior keeper Charlie Day was fantastic, stopping all four Griffin shots in the first. He finished with 9 saves for the game.
"We got off to the hot start, which made things a little easier. And Charlie (Day) overcame a turnover and played a fantastic game," said Pats coach Sean Wimer, whose guys hiked their record to 34-0. "And we played excellent team defense."
Lincoln-Way East finally got on the board when senior utility Andrew Brozovic got one past Day to make it 5-1 with 6:07 left in the half. He finished with a hat trick, as did senior forward Jason Parkinson.
But Maleski added 2 more scores, and single goals were converted by junior utility players Justin Ginsberg and Collin Kapecki. Shashin also scored on a penalty shot to vault Stevenson to a 10-2 lead at halftime.
Lincoln-Way East (26-4) made a push with 3 third-period goals, but the hosts always had an answer.
Senior attacker Rahul Arun scored his 19th goal of the season and Kapecki his 77th of the year. Shashin also added 2 more scores, the first coming by way of a full-pool outlet pass from Day for a 14-5 lead heading to the fourth.
Osuch then added his second score of the game, Shashin his seventh, Maleski his fourth, and senior attacker Varun Ganesh got into the scoring action with his 21st goal of the spring and Stevenson's final tally of the evening.
While Shashin and the offense were doing their thing, that Stevenson defense turned up the heat to the tune of 19 steals, with Arun collecting 7.
"I've been here four years and we really want this one (a state title) really bad," said Shashin.