Boys water polo: Undefeated Stevenson rolls by Neuqua Valley in state semifinals
Stevenson senior Drew Wangard refuses to forget about his last appearance in the boys state water polo meet.
Two years ago, the Patriots suffered a heartbreaking 6-5 loss to Naperville Central in a state quarterfinal.
After waiting an extra season to avenge the last-second defeat because the coronavirus pandemic canceled last season, the Patriots are motivated to win a state title.
"We lost in the final two seconds two years ago, and I still haven't put that behind me at all," Wangard said. "I think we actually used that game to make us hungrier this season."
Wangard scored 6 goals to spark the Patriots to a 17-10 rout over Neuqua Valley in a state semifinal on Friday at Fenwick High School.
The Patriots (29-0) will play Lyons in Saturday's 7:45 p.m. championship game. Stevenson is seeking its first state title since 2017.
The Wildcats (17-2) played with a lot of heart and energy, enjoying their first trip to state in program history. But Neuqua Valley couldn't sustain its effort against the strong and deep Patriots for the entire 28 minutes.
The Wildcats rode of a wave of emotion to take a 4-3 lead after the first quarter, but the Patriots answered with 7 goals in the second quarter to lead 10-5 at halftime.
"What gave us trouble is Stevenson had such a deep line," Neuqua Valley senior Michel Leshock said. "We were up early, but they just put in an entire set of six new set of people who were fresh and just sprinting the life out them. I think as the game went on, we got more and more tired and couldn't keep up with them.
"I'm proud of our team. The whole team played together the entire season, and it was great to see us make it to the state tournament."
Stevenson senior Dimitriy Kobets scored 3 straight goals in the third quarter to keep the Wildcats from mounting a comeback. The Loyola Marymount recruit finished with 4 goals.
"We had good teamwork and been playing really great since the start of the season," Kobets said. "We've been motivated to win state since our (state) loss two years ago."
Leshock, Austin Olson, Jacob Duncan, Jimmy Senese, Ryan Cervello scored 2 goals each to lead a balanced Wildcats attack.