Boys water polo: Undefeated Stevenson downs Mundelein for sectional crown
Stevenson's perfect boys water polo season rolled on with another victory Saturday when the Patriots defeated North Suburban Conference rival Mundelein for the third time -- this time to win a sectional championship.
The Patriots started out slow but created separation in the second quarter, racing past the Mustangs 16-6 in the Stevenson sectional final.
Stevenson (27-0), which will take on Conant at 4:15 p.m. Thursday in the state quarterfinals at Fenwick, has racked up 28, 24 and 16 goals in three matches in the sectional.
The Pats were defeated by Naperville Central in the 2019 state quarterfinals with two seconds left in the game.
"This group are the hunters and have been on a mission for two years," Stevenson coach Sean Wimer said. "Our group is battle-tested and seasoned veterans. Mundelein was a tough opponent; you just can't look past them. Now that we're past them, we can look at state preparations. That's the hard part. You can never start preparing ahead. Mundelein did bring it to us in the first half and they gave us fits."
The Patriots are very strong with the way they set up goals and it works from various players that make it happen.
"We do love our counter attacks, but our defense drives everything," Wimer said. "It's really the motor that gets the counter attacks going. It all starts and ends with the defense. If our counter is flowing, you can tell our press is going great."
Mundelein (19-4) slowed the pace of the match down and trailed Stevenson 2-1 early in the second quarter, but Stevenson recovered quickly with 4 unanswered goals for a 6-1 advantage at the half.
"I thought (Mundelein) threw us off balance early on," Wimer said. "We were missing a lot of shots and struggling with a lot of different looks they were giving us. Credit to Mundelein, they had a game plan and stuck to it. They really made us earn it."
Jacob Whiting led the Patriots with 6 goals. Dima Kobets and Drew Wangard each had 3 goals apiece. Sammy Maya, Nathan Mossman, Angelos Koutsogeorgas and goalie Alex Mitchell had the others.
"We did counter very well and we were passing the ball around," Whiting said. "We've been playing together for the last 3 to 4 years. We always hang out with each other and play together."
Mundelein's game plan did throw off Stevenson for a period of time.
"Their counter attack was so strong that we were working on a position if they didn't have anything maybe we can slow it down a bit," Mundelein coach Russ Gates said. "We wanted to limit their opportunities and it worked for awhile. But it started to get away from us. It's hard to stop (Stevenson). They were on top of every single play."
Mundelein had a productive season even though it was cut short by Stevenson in the sectional final.
"It was an adventure," Gates said. "With all the different restrictions, you're constantly battling so many more things that you normally are. These guys stuck with it, they were smart with it."
The Mustangs were led by their leading goal-scorer, Danny Oleinik, with 4 goals, which gave him 128 goals in 23 games this season. Teammate Jack long added a couple goals.