Boys water polo: Conant puts it all together in win over Schaumburg
Conant had one of its most successful boys water polo seasons in school history a year ago when the Cougars advanced to the state quarterfinals.
Graduation hit Conant hard and the Cougars were off to a slow start this season. That all changed Wednesday in Hoffman Estates.
Conant scored 8 first-period goals and overwhelmed Schaumburg 15-2 in the Mid-Suburban West opener for both teams.
"We played a good number of games," Conant coach Dave Jonen said. "We haven't had my ideal starting squad out there this season. That was as close as we have had since game one. It looks like the rust has shaken off and they are starting to understand each other better."
Conant (2-5, 1-0) got Spencer Vecchione back in the lineup after the senior got a late start to the season.
Vecchione made up for lost time quickly. Playing in the middle, he scored 5 of the Cougars' first 7 goals.
"It was definitely a good start," said Vecchione, who was willing to share the wealth and finished with 5 goals.
"It feel great to be back in the water. My teammates did a good job of opening me up. It was great to have the chemistry of the team back and show what we can do."
Nate Hall also exploded for Conant. The senior scored 2 of his 3 goals and helped open up the Cougar offense.
"My main goal is to help the other guys out," Hall said. "To help them learn for the future games so we can be better in the future."
Jonen was happy to have his two seniors back together and in attack mode.
"We needed that kind of game to get Spencer and Nate more in sync," Jonen said." They need to read each other better and the game was a good opportunity to do that."
Parees Pradham and Carlos Matteo each had 3 goals for the Cougars, while Anthony Guiarino also scored.
While the offense was flying, the Cougars' defense was also superb. The Cougars forced 21 turnovers with Will Erne (6 steals), Pradham (6 steals) and Vecchione (3 steals) leading the way.
"If you can get your defense established then everything come from that," Jonen said. "That has been my priority, to make sure we are capable to reacting to whatever offense comes our way."
Conant goalkeeper Michael Chowaniec, who was a leading force in the Cougars' run last season, has not lost a beat this season. The senior stopped all 9 shots that came his way before giving way to Adem Elmaz midway in the fourth quarter.
"Every single game I prepare to block the goal," Chowaniec said. "My defense in front of me did a very good job today,"
Schaumburg (1-4, 0-1) was able to break through late in the game. Timothy Dombrowski tallied both times for the Saxons.
"We are a really young team," Schaumburg coach Tyler Clark said. "There is a lot of learning on the fly. We need to work on the fundamentals and learn not to turn the ball over. But I thought we got better as the game went on tonight."