Boys water polo: Stevenson downs Mundelein to earn state trip
Stevenson boys water polo coach Sean Wimer wanted to see the "best version" of his team on Saturday morning when the Patriots squared off against Mundelein for the Buffalo Grove sectional title.
On the line, a trip to the state Elite Eight to be hosted at Stevenson next weekend.
The Pats didn't disappoint their coach, coming away with a hard-fought 12-8 victory for their eighth sectional title in a row.
During the season Stevenson had beaten Mundelein in 14-10 in conference play.
"We played well and that's what we expected," said Wimer, whose team improved to 23-10 and was the top seed in the sectional.
"We have a tough group of kids. We pressed and countered hard. Give Mundelein credit. That's a good, physical team."
Stevenson raced to a 2-0 lead after the first quarter.
Drew Wangard first fed Mark Holzer. Beno Maya then fed Dima Kobets for a score. Kobets started that play with a steal.
The Pats picked up where they left off in the second. Kobets fed Holzer for a 3-0 lead. That was followed by Nate Pedigo dishing off to Kobets and all of the sudden it was 4-0 early in the second.
But Mundelein woke up in the and showed it wasn't going anywhere soon.
The Mustangs got on the board when on a man-up situation Danny Oleinik fed Hunter Magee. Oleinik then scored unassisted and the Mustangs were right back in it trailing 4-2.
"We left it all in the water," said Mustangs coach Russ Gates, whose team finished the season 22-8 and ranked 12th in Illinois.
"We had lots of opportunities. Stevenson was just more physical than we were."
After the Oleinik goal, Kobets scored on a penalty shot to make it 5-2 at halftime.
Mundelein came out on fire in the third, scoring two quick goals to cut the lead to 5-4.
First, Mundelein keeper Logan Bradshaw had a big stop on a Kobets shot, which in turn led to a goal by Ryan Zentz. Shortly after, Matt Allore floated one past Pats keeper Alex Mitchell (5 saves).
Holzer then fed Kobets right away to make it a 2-goal game again, 6-4.
Then, without even looking, Kobets nailed his fifth goal on a blind shot to the left side of the goal.
Mundelein responded, though, when Allore lobbed one in past Mitchell and it was 7-5 after the third.
Drew Wangard had a big fourth quarter, scoring all three of his goals for the Patriots.
He scored right away before Mundelein had cut it to 8-5 on a goal by Oleinik, who was assisted by Allore.
"The biggest thing with this team is trust, and the chemistry is amazing," said Wangard. "We trust the process and prepare real hard and try and not get nervous. We also try not to get too excited and complacent."
Wangard didn't show any nerves as he went on to score the next 2 goals to make it 10-6.
Allore then scored on a penalty shot to make it 10-7. But Stevenson had an answer when Beno Maya scored unassisted to make it 11-7.
Allore then scored his fourth to make it 11-8 with 35 ticks left. But Grant Huey added the final tally of the game for Stevenson.