Scouting Fox boys water polo
Coaches hope their athletes possess a champion's mentality.
For St. Charles North boys water polo coach Chris Cloy, that job has been made a little easier with the history-making success of the North Stars' boys swimming program.
Last month, coach Rob Rooney's North Stars captured their second consecutive boys swimming state championship, an accomplishment that Cloy hopes to use to his advantage during this spring's water polo campaign.
"Success breeds success," said Cloy. "Being able to use the energy and excitement that our swim team has had the last couple of years is a key piece of the puzzle. We have many boys in our program that compete for both the swim team and water polo team."
While swimmers and water polo athletes share some obvious common skillsets, there is an additional teamwork element and hand-eye ball skills required to excel in water polo.
Cloy points to the mental framework learned from the recent swim season as a key component for his own team.
"They can use their experiences swimming to help build confidence during the water polo season," said the coach.
St. Charles North, currently ranked 15th by illpolo.com in the preseason state poll, will lean heavily on senior veteran Siba Filipovic for his talent and leadership this spring.
Two weeks ago, Filipovic placed fourth in the 200 IM and contributed on three top-5 relay teams for the North Stars at the state swim meet in Evanston.
A year ago, Filipovic became the first St. Charles North boy in school history selected to the Illinois Water Polo All-State Team (3rd team) after leading the North Stars (19-12) with 93 goals and 71 steals in 31 matches.
"Siba is an extremely talented offensive player who can play anywhere in the pool," Cloy said of the utility player who has committed to attend and play water polo at the Air Force Academy next season.
Senior driver Matt Wolff and junior goalie Justin Reed also return for the North Stars, who open their season Thursday at Lincoln-Way Central.
Wolff led the team in assists (39) and ranked third in goals (34) last season.
"Matt is one of our smartest players in the water," said Cloy. "He understands his role and how to make the team better."
Reed, meanwhile, set a single-season school record with 322 saves last spring.
"Justin is a very athletic player who anchored the defense that let up the second fewest goals in team history last season," said Cloy.
Sophomore Aidan Allamian figures to make a bigger impact for the North Stars.
"Our goal is to build off of last year's success," said Cloy. "However, we know that we have to do it one step at a time."
St. Charles East, which finished 4-18 a year ago, begins its season at Maine East on March 18.
The annual crosstown matches (boys and girls), which benefit the American Cancer Society, is slated for March 25 at St. Charles North.
Top teams: Stevenson, Lyons Township, Fenwick, Naperville Central, Lincoln-Way East, St. Rita, Conant, Naperville North, New Trier, Loyola, Neuqua Valley, York, Evanston, Barrington, Glenbrook South, Mundelein, St. Charles North.
Top individuals: Siba Filipovic, sr., utility, St. Charles North; Justin Reed, jr., goalie, St. Charles North; Matt Wolff, sr., driver, St. Charles North.
Top newcomers: Aidan Allamian, soph., utility.
Season skinny: The North Stars look to improve upon last year's 19-12 record and appear to be in a good position to do just that, thanks to the return of varsity veteran Siba Filipovic. Last season, Filipovic led the North Stars with 93 goals and 71 steals in 31 games while becoming the first St. Charles North boy in school history to be chosen to the Illinois Water Polo All-State Team (3rd team selection). "He's an extremely talented offensive player who can play anywhere in the pool," said North Stars coach Chris Cloy. "Opposing teams know him and have to game plan to stop him." Cloy knows his team will be plenty battle tested by season's end. "We play a very challenging schedule and we will see how we stack up against some of the top teams in the state very early in the season," said the coach. The North Stars, who open their season on March 12 at Lincoln-Way Central, play at the Conant Invite on March 14. In April, the North Stars' schedule includes a road trip to face defending state champion Naperville Central (April 21), a visit to top-ranked Stevenson (April 13), and a home match against defending 4th-place state finisher Lincoln-Way East (April 17).