Boys water polo: Fenwick ousts Conant
Conant's second consecutive trip to the state boys water polo finals was a brief one. The Cougars ran into perennial state power Fenwick and fell to the Friars 17-13 Friday at Stevenson in Lincolnshire.
"We had a good game plan," Conant coach Tim Daniel said. "We had just a few mental lapses here and there. We don't see that caliber of talent enough to be quite ready for it. But it was a great game. These guys came here to play and they did."
Fenwick (31-3) made sure that it took advantage of any opportunity it could get. The Friars tallied on their first two possessions forcing the Cougars to take a time out to regroup just 1:40 into the contest.
"I just told the kids to play their game," Daniel said. "We just needed to regroup."
That seemed to do the trick for Conant (29-5) as the Cougars were able find their style. Alexander Hirjol and Noah Lawson for Conant each tallied and suddenly it was 2-2.
After a Fenwick goal, the Cougars were able to tie it one last time on a goal by Hirjol. From there Fenwick exploded.
The Friars scored 2 goals to close out the first quarter to lead 5-3. They then tallied on their first four possessions of the second quarter to open up an 8-4 lead.
Trailing 10-5 just before the break, Conant got a pair of goals from Spencer Urban to get back on track and trail by 3.
Fenwick again went on a flurry, going on a 4-1 run to open up a 14-8 advantage. Conant was never able to get closer than 4 from there.
"These kids came to play here tonight," Daniel said. "I don't think anyone is embarrassed to have a Conant shirt on tonight or to wear a Conant water polo hat."
Hirjol led the Cougars with 5 goals. Urban and Noah Lawson each had 3 goals, while Bryan Cho and Carson Jess also scored. Aaron Nagorzanski had 5 saves for Conant.
The Cougars finished with the second most wins in school history and a second consecutive sectional title.
"It was a little disappointing," said Bryan Cho, who finished the season with 62 goals. "I think even with the loss, we are satisfied. We were grinding it out and playing at top levels. We made it to state and our goal was to keep going on, but we ended the year unfortunately."
Hirjol, who finished the season with 76 goals, said that the two consecutive years that Conant has qualified for the state finals has left a lasting impression.
"Going into this game we knew that they had their legacy behind them because they have been at state many years," Hirjol said of Fenwick. "It was great last season. We would like to place higher and leave our own legacy, but we still were able to leave the Conant name at state."
"This group has hit some really tall mountains," Daniel said. "We have had really good records and come here back-to-back. This senior class has taken on some of the best teams we have ever beaten. I think it is cool to get trophies, but I think the impact this group made will last a lot longer."