Boys water polo: It's a first for Stevenson
It wasn't the shot he preferred, but with a state title on the line, Justin Ginsberg didn't hesitate.
The junior utility player's lob shot over New Trier's goalie with 1:30 left in the sudden death period that followed overtime produced a wild 10-9 Stevenson victory, the program's first state title in boys water polo, on Saturday evening at Stevenson.
"To be frank, I'm not real comfortable with that lob shot," said Ginsberg, who finished with a hat trick. "It was just the right shot for that moment. But this is amazing. We've worked so hard and it's ridiculous how we've battled through the season and come back like we did tonight."
It was actually Ginsberg's goal with 1:28 left in the second three-minute overtime session that knotted the game and forced the sudden death period.
A little winded from an emotional 13-7 victory over nemesis Naperville Central in the semis earlier in the day, Stevenson wasn't, well, typical Stevenson.
"We came out a little flat," said Patriots coach Sean Wimer, whose guys capped off a perfect 36-0 campaign. "But we reset in the third and won both the third and fourth quarters. These guys are so resilient and I am speechless right now."
New Trier, ranked second in the state behind the Pats, staked itself to a 2-1 lead after the first period.
The lone Stevenson goal was scored by senior attacker Rahul Arun with 1:37 left.
Stevenson has only trailed in four games this spring, and New Trier was looking to uphold that stat after scoring 3 more times in the second to take a 5-2 lead at halftime. Ginsberg scored his first goal in the second period for the lone Pats goal.
Then Stevenson woke up -- and the defense turned it up.
The Pats crept to within 5-4 after Ginsberg scored his second off a nice feed from junior utility Collin Kapecki with 2:37 left in the third. Senior center Dan Maleski's goal with 5:05 left in regulation then drew Stevenson to within 6-5. The equalizer that forced a 6-6 tie and overtime came off the hands of senior attacker Andrew Shashin with 2:27 left.
Junior keeper Charlie Day made several key saves, including a huge block after Shashin's score, to preserve the trip to OT. Day finished with 10 saves.
Earlier in the day, the Pats earned the trip to the title game by getting past Naperville Central. In that matchup, Shashin scored 5 goals and Maleski, Ginsberg, and junior utility Eric Osuch each had 2. Ginsberg also dished out 4 assists.
Despite losing seven seniors -- Maleski, Shashin, attackers Zach Hede, Varun Ganesh, Ryan Ginsberg, Ben Lauter and utility Rahul Arun -- the Pats look to be in excellent shape again next year when they returns three starters.
"This is a bittersweet ending, but it's been one heck of a ride," said Lauter, who popped in a goal past one of the state's top keepers in Kent Emden during the semifinals against Naperville Central..
Lauter dislocated his knee and for precautionary reasons has seen limited action.
"Yeah, it was too risky so I only played sparingly. But I love being in the water and I love all the guys on this team."