Boys water polo: Naperville Central makes it two straight at state
You'd think the gas tank would be running a little low after such an emotional last second win over Stevenson in the state quarterfinals on Friday night in Lincolnshire.
But adrenaline usually takes over when there's a state title on the line, and Naperville Central answered the call with a 8-5 victory over Lyons Twp. for its second straight title on Saturday evening in the boys state water polo finals. Naperville Central has won three of the last four state titles.
"It's feels fantastic. I still get emotional seeing the sea of red and all of the support we have," said Redhawks coach Bill Salentine. "We knew every game was going to be hard, but we fought through so much adversity this season. I'm so proud of the guys."
Naperville Central took control early with three unanswered goals in the first. Senior Bender Russo first fed senior driver Sean Stablein and the Hawks were off and running. Russo then scored from 10 meters out, followed by senior driver Brad Sanford feeding junior driver Cam Dougherty.
Lyons woke up briefly in the second with a goal, but goalie Jonah Klein-Collins' heave to brother and senior attacker Luke Klein-Collins resulted in a 4-1 lead at halftime.
After a big save by Jonah Klein-Collins, Russo rebounded his own miss and scored again to make it 5-1 late in the third. Sanford then scored with 1:15 left in the third and a 6-1 advantage after three periods.
Lyons Twp. made a furious comeback in the fourth, outscoring the Redhawks 4-2.
"In the fourth, when you have a lead, the big thing is controlling the clock and ball," said Jonah Klein-Collins, who stopped 10 shots on the night.
And Naperville Central achieved just that.
The closest Lyons got was 6-3 and 7-4. But Sanford scored again and also assisted Luke Klein-Collins for the final margin of victory.
"Safe to say we're very happy with the title," Jonah Klein-Collins added. "I just trusted my defense. And the seniors did a great job. It was an all or bust season for us."
Earlier in the day, Naperville Central (34-1) earned the trip to the title game after a 10-6 decision over Fenwick, the team that gave the Redhawks their only loss back in mid-March. Luke Klein-Collins and Cam Dougherty scored the hat trick, while a pair of goals were scored by Henry Mills and Brad Sanford. Jonah Klein-Collins stopped 7 shots in the victory.