Boys water polo: Naperville Central goes undefeated at Stevenson
With sectionals fast approaching, the Stevenson Boys Water Polo Classic always serves as a good tune up for some of the area's best teams.
Naperville Central, ranked second in the state, won the event by going 4-0 on Saturday.
But not without a little adversity.
"We've been down with a couple of injuries to key guys most of the season," said coach Bill Salentine, whose Redhawks are the defending state champs.
"But we've adjusted to life without them and have a lot of guys stepping up."
Cam Dougherty has been out with a broken ankle and Brad Sanford had a bout with mono.
In a hard-fought win over top-ranked Fenwick earlier in the day, Henry Mills scored twice while single goals were scored by Sean Stablein and Issac Noren for the Redhawks.
"It was nice we got big goals from all of those guys. Not the usual suspects," added Salentine.
The win over the Friars avenged an early-season loss to Fenwick, the only blemish on the Redhawks' 24-1 record.
"That loss kind of took some pressure off of us because we had a big target on our backs. We're looking forward to sectionals and just trying to put the right combinations of guys together."
In its final game of the event, Naperville Central won a tough 5-2 decision over third-ranked Lyons.
"Definitely a defensive battle with two outstanding goalies," said utility Bender Russo, who scored the hat trick in the victory.
"It came down to who could find the little kinks in the other's armor."
Russo found one of those when he scored on a penalty shot in the third period. The shot originally hit square off the post but right back to Russo, who promptly put it in.
Luke Klein-Collins also got into the act with a pair of goals, while a late steal by Mark Laboe helped seal the win.
Staying healthy and working on their man-up conversion rate are two things the Redhawks hope to experience during the stretch run.
Keeper Jonah Klein-Collins played an exceptional game in goal, stopping 9 shots.
Meanwhile, host Stevenson is starting to click on all cylinders.
The fourth-ranked Pats went 3-1 in the tournament, with the only blemish being a disheartening loss to Fenwick.
In its finale, Stevenson ran away from seventh-ranked Loyola 14-8.
Dima Kobets led the scoring brigade with 6 goals.
Drew Wangard scored the equalizer early in the first after Lyons had taken a brief 1-0 lead.
Then, with three guys on his back, Sammy Maya found the back of the net to tie it 1-1. Kobets then fed Mark Holzer for a 2-1 lead and the Pats were never really threatened thereafter.
"We know we have a tough road ahead of us but we're starting to click," said Pats coach Sean Wimer. "We're playing 14 guys every game, so they're getting valuable experience and answering the challenge."
Utility David Gorin also scored 2 goals, while Jacob Whiting also found the scoring column.
"Our team chemistry is fantastic," said sophomore keeper Alex Mitchell, who stopped 9 shots against Lyons. "We hang out a lot outside of the pool and that helps us grow as a team. Coach Mike and our keeper the last two years (Charlie Day, playing at Belmont College), really helped me with my positioning and where to be."
Up-and-coming Palatine went 1-3 in the event.
"Most of our team is in their second year of playing polo," said Pirates coach Joe Gryzbek, whose team is 10-14 overall. "But we've got lots of guys with lots of potential."
Sam Adame has been a steady leader, while Alex Antoniv had a breakout weekend, according to Gryzbek.
"We're still inexperienced but we're coming along," he said. "We're getting to that point where the potential we have should make things fun."
In its final contest of the afternoon, the Pirates fell to New Trier 16-3.
The Trevians, ranked 14th according to illpolo.com, opened a 3-0 lead early in the first.
Palatine made it 3-1 after a goal by Adame. He scored twice on the afternoon, while Dmytro Khomyak rebounded his own miss for a goal in the third with New Trier in control.
Keeper Nathan Allen stopped 4 shots in the losing effort.
"Just a matter of how fast we develop," added Gryzbek.