Boys water polo: Conant hoping to advance again at state
Conant will be looking to improve on its fourth-place finish in last year's boys water polo state tournament this weekend when the Cougars take to the pool at Stevenson.
"We're don't feel any pressure," said Cougars coach Tim Daniel. "Everything is on the upside for us. We are excited about the situation we are in. I've learned as a coach not to overthink. We just want to keep things simple. We'll have a good game plan in place and we will see how things shape up. We're going to trust our system."
Trust and veteran play has been the key for the 29-4 Cougars this season.
Seasoned veterans along with talented underclassmen helped spur Conant to the Mid-Suburban West title and then the overall league champinship.
The Cougars, who were the top seed in their sectional, will face a traditional powerhouse in Fenwick Friday at 8:15 p.m. in the state quarterfinals.
Should Conant defeat the Friars they would face Naperville Central or Stevenson in the semifinals Saturday at 12:45 p.m. The championship is scheduled for 8 p.m.
"We know what Fenwick is going to do," said Daniel. "They've been there before. We just have to worry about ourselves."
Conant has been to the state's Elite Eight three other times -- in 2007, 2013 and last season.
Junior goal keeper Aaron Nagorzanski, who had 10 saves against Barrington in Saturday's sectional final, will be key.
The Cougars have diverse scorers led by Alexander Hirjoi (Air Force), Bryan Cho, Noah Lawson, and Justin Lim.
Jake Lydon is Conant's top defender.
"We look to put Jake on the other team's top scorer," said Daniel. "Justin Lim is our fastest player who has great chemistry and has made many a clutch goal for us this season."
Daniel noted that attacker Spencer Urban has developed during the season and is just now hitting his stride.
No team is successful without utility players and Christian Snopek and Mikey Bland, who can play various roles, are key factors.
"This group knows how to get ready for games," said Daniel. "During timeouts they let us know what the other team's players are doing. They run the game."
Daniel feels that the Cougars' schedule has toughened them up for the state tournament.
"We played some pretty tough nonconference opponents," said Daniel. "Since spring break we have only lost two matches. It's been a steady season for us."