Boys water polo: Buffalo Grove surges past Warren

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/15/2019 9:33 PM
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  • Warren's Santiago Currea, right, chases Buffalo Grove's Daniel Verdico during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Warren's Santiago Currea, right, chases Buffalo Grove's Daniel Verdico during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Sam Aiello, left, blocks Buffalo Grove's Carlos Salgado during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Warren's Sam Aiello, left, blocks Buffalo Grove's Carlos Salgado during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Sam Aiello, right, prepares to shoot as Buffalo Grove's Michael Goubine, left, defends and Buffalo Grove goalie Brandon Newman blocks during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Warren's Sam Aiello, right, prepares to shoot as Buffalo Grove's Michael Goubine, left, defends and Buffalo Grove goalie Brandon Newman blocks during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's Santiago Currea, left, looks for an option as Buffalo Grove's Andy Gontko defends during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Warren's Santiago Currea, left, looks for an option as Buffalo Grove's Andy Gontko defends during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix looks for an open shot on goal against Warren during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix looks for an open shot on goal against Warren during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Buffalo Grove's Andy Gontko moves the ball against Warren during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night.

    Buffalo Grove's Andy Gontko moves the ball against Warren during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's goalie Riley Nebel rises to block a shot by Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Nix scored on the play.

    Warren's goalie Riley Nebel rises to block a shot by Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Nix scored on the play. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Warren's goalie Riley Nebel rises to block a shot by Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Nix scored on the play.

    Warren's goalie Riley Nebel rises to block a shot by Buffalo Grove's Aidan Nix during varsity boys water polo at Buffalo Grove Friday night. Nix scored on the play. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

It may be hard to imagine being in a swimming pool and needing a wake up call, but that's just what Buffalo Grove's boys water polo team was desperate for.

Aidan Nix supplied it in a huge way.

His goal with .2 seconds left in the first half was like a huge alarm clock for the Bison, who woke up for an 8-2 win over Warren in the opening round of the Elk Grove tournament Friday in Buffalo Grove.

"It was really our coaches that got us going," said Nix, who scored 3 goals. "Our defense really turned into offense in the second half. That turned into fastbreak goals. We just had good transition offense."

Despite dominating play in the first half, Buffalo Grove (4-1) found itself trailing 2-0 thanks to a pair of Warren goals by Sam Aiello. With time running out in the first half, Buffalo Grove needed a spark and Nix provided it.

Nix found himself in front of the net, but his shot was turned away by Warren keeper Riley Nebel. Nix and Nebel swam for the rebound, with Nix coming up with the ball and Nebel being called for a penalty. Andy Gontko took the ball and then passed to Nix, who found the back of the net just before time expired to make it 2-1.

"We just didn't play well in the first half," Buffalo Grove coach Scott Kopecky said. "We were rushing on offense and not making good decisions with the ball. We were forcing bad shots. But in the second half, we got back into our game plan."

That plan included swarming Warren when the Blue Devils had the ball in the offensive end. Led by Gontko along with Michael Goubine, Carlos Salgado, Warren (1-2) managed just 4 shots in the second half and all were turned away by Bison keeper Brandon Newman.

"I thought our endurance was the main key," Gontko said. "We were trying to keep up with them early. But once we out-tired them, that's when we started getting ball side on all their drives."

Kopecky said that his team has been working on its pressure defense.

"We have been working on that," Kopecky said. "We are working on pressing out harder and our defense. It is still early in the season and we are trying to figure out what we are as a team."

With the Bison defense clamping down on Warren, the offense went to work.

Matt Lotaski scored on a pass from Dan Verdico to tie the game at 2-2. Verdico was instrumental in the Bison's next goal, drawing a defender to him and then slipping a pass to Salgado, who scored just inside the post with 49.8 seconds left in the third quarter to put Buffalo Grove up for good.

With the lead and the momentum, Buffalo Grove exploded in the final quarter, scoring five times to put the game away.

Gontko scored on a pass from Verdico, Goubine scored on a breakaway and Gontko scored off a long pass from Newman to make it 6-2. Fittingly, Nix scored the final 2 goals of the game for Buffalo Grove, which then defeated Deerfield 11-2 in its second game of the night.

Warren coach Brian Esposito said it was the lack of conditioning and a pair of injuries that hurt his team.

"We don't condition a lot," Esposito said. "And we had some guys go out. I thought our keeper (Nebel) played real well and kept us in the game. He continues to progress, progress and progress."

Esposito, whose team downed Maine East 7-6 in its second game, said despite the loss his team, which is in its third year as a program, is making strides.

"We lost 10-1 last year after trailing 8-0 in the first quarter," Esposito said. "I am thrilled at the progress we have made in a short amount of time."

In tournament action at Elk Grove, the host Grens beat Bradley Bourbonnais 6-4 but then fell to Riverside-Brookfield 9-8.

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