Boys water polo: Stevenson resumes its winning ways

 
By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/10/2018 10:10 PM
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Seems like nothing's changed? That's because it really hasn't.

Only the Stevenson boys water polo team will quickly downplay the fact that they are the reigning state champs.

And the last time it lost, let's see, was a couple of seasons ago to Naperville Central.

"We're trying to get it into our heads that we're not the champs because it's a new season and team with some younger players who are gelling well," said keeper Charlie Day, looking to go out with a bang in his senior campaign. "We're really excited about the season. We have a lot of potential. And I owe a lot to coach (Mike Kusevski). He's has different drills for us every day and has really helped me grow and improve as a player."

Day and the boys continued their unbeaten ways on Saturday afternoon after going 3-0 to win their own quad.

The Pats, riding a 39-game win streak, got it rolling early and often with a 21-2 victory over Fremd in the opener.

Senior attacker Collin Kapecki was on fire right off the bat, scoring a hat trick for a quick 3-0 lead in just the first two minutes of the game.

He finished with 4 goals, while senior attacker Justin Ginsberg and freshman Dima Kobets scored 5 apiece.

"I was a little surprised myself at how fast we started," said Pats coach Sean Wimer. "We really focus on our defense because our offense isn't going to have any problem scoring."

Day recorded 6 saves in the victory.

Then, in a 22-6 win over Bremen, the offense didn't budge one iota in firing 29 shots on goal with Ginsberg punching in 5 and senior utility Eric Osuch and junior attacker Beno Maya getting 4 apiece.

Day recorded 6 saves in one half of action, while freshman keeper Alex Mitchell stopped 5 second-half shots in his first game as a varsity keeper.

"I just told him welcome to the big leagues -- but he is going to be really good," Day said.

In the finale against eighth-ranked Niles West, the Pats rolled to a 16-3 victory as Day recorded 7 saves in three quarters with the game well in hand at 13-1. Mitchell relieved him for the fourth quarter and stopped 2 shots.

As for that offense, Stevenson raced to a 6-0 lead after one, including another hat trick by Kapecki, one of those off of a pool-length pass by Day to highlight the first frame.

Kapecki finished with 6 more goals and Kobets 5.

"I started playing club in sixth grade, so it's really nice to step in having known most of the guys for several years," said Kobets. "I know we're defending champs, but this is a different team with a bunch of new players. It's going to be a great experience because the team is so connected."

Stevenson won the event by going 3-0, while Niles West was 2-1, Fremd 1-2, and Bremen 0-3.

And as for the Vikings, coach Brian Newby saw some real promising signs.

Attackers Sean Warner and Derek Warnstedt led the way in scoring, and keeper Christian Zukowski stopped 6 shots in the Stevenson game.

"I told the guys, at the beginning of the season will be a learning curve," said Newby, whose team is 1-3 overall. "The scoreboard isn't going to show it at first, but I can see this thing coming together for us."

Fremd played well against the ranked Niles West club, only to fall short 9-8 in sudden death.

"We don't have a lot of experience in the clutch," said Newby, "but we're having moments where we're making the right decisions."

Warnstedt scored 4 more goals and Sebastian Lekas the hat trick. Zukowski stopped 10 shots.

In the finale against Bremen, the offense finally let loose in a 15-4 victory.

Warnstedt lit it up again to the tune of 6 more goals, while Lekas added 4 and Rigden Atsatsang recorded 3 saves in goal.

"We have 3 seniors, 4 juniors and 8 sophomores," added Newby. "So there's nice balance. We're excited for this year as well as the future. I'm very proud of how we fought today."

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