Boys water polo: Naperville North, York fall in state quarterfinals

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/19/2022 10:13 PM

Lyons blitzed Naperville North Thursday in the quarterfinals of the boys water polo state finals at Stevenson in Lincolnshire.

The Lions scored five quick goals and then later added five consecutive goals to cruise past the Huskies 14-6.

 

Lyons (29-2) will meet New Trier (31-2) in the state semifinals Saturday at 10:15 a.m. New Trier beat Palatine 21-11 to advance.

"They work hard for it all year round," Lyons coach Doug Eichstaedt said. "These guys grew up playing together and there's just a special kind of bond these guys have formed over the years."

Lyons, which was second in the state last year, has now won 24 of their last 25 matches. One of those wins was a high-scoring 16-12 victory over Naperville North in late April.

Lyons kept that high scoring feeling on Thursday when the Lions erupted for five quick goals in the first quarter.

Jack Bradbury and Jimmy Bolan both scored on long shots for the Lions. Matt Jablonski scored on a rebound, Bolan on a penalty shot and AJ Vitek on a rebound and suddenly it was 5-0.

"It all starts with our defense," Bolan said. "To hold them to what they scored was huge. We got off to a hot start and that helped. It was a good team win."

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Naperville North (23-5), which was making its first appearance at the state finals since 2014 when it was third in the state, came into the match winning 13 of its last 14 matches. But the slow start really hurt the Huskies.

Naperville North was able to close to 6-3 with 2:36 left in the first half. The Huskies got back into the game thanks to a pair of goals by Jack Reif and a goal by Tyson Berg.

Lyons then was able to put the game away with a floury of goals.

The Lions scored the final three goals of the first half and the first two of the second half to open up an 11-3 lead.

The teams traded a trio of goals down the stretch to close out the scoring.

Lyons had five different players score. Bradbury had four goals while Bolan, Vitek and Jablonski each had three goals. Sean Gipp also scored for the Lions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We are getting some great balance on our scoring," Eichstaedt said. "That's a huge help for us because teams can't focus in one or two guys."

Jack Reif, who is a freshman for Naperville North and scored three goals, said his team's senior leadership was key to their success this season.

"I am going to miss the seniors so much," Jack Reif said. "They contributed so much and taught us a lot. We have a lot coming back, so I think we can have something special."

It was a tough end to a great season for the Huskies, who also got a pair of goals from Berg and a goal from Patrick Horn.

Naperville North coach Kelly Reif said that LT's fast start hurt her team.

"We needed to come a little quicker and little stronger there," Kelly Reif said. "We have had a bad habit of getting off to a slow start all season. The kids were hyped and that's a really good team we lost to."

It was hard end for the Huskies after turning things around this year.

"I am so proud of them," Kelly Reif said. "We haven't been to state since 2014. So we kind of felt like we were playing in borrowed time. It was like playing on house money. We just couldn't buy a goal today."

Whitney Young 10, York 9:

It was a disappointing loss for York at the boys state water polo quarterfinals at Stevenson in Lincolnshire Thursday.

The Dukes had an early lead, but failed to hang on, losing to Whitney Young 10-9.

Whitney Young (20-4) will meet Stevenson in Saturday's semifinals at 9 a.m. Stevenson (23-9) defeated Lincoln-Way East 15-7. Whitney Young has won its last nine matches and the Dolphins had won 16 of their last 17.

It was the second consecutive sectional quarterfinal loss for York (26-8) in school history. But despite losing five of six starters, the Dukes found themselves back in the state quarterfinals again this season.

"We had a great season," York coach Brian Drumm said. "There's only a couple of teams in the state we lost to. I am incredibly proud of our team."

York had to overcome some early turnover problems to grab a 3-1 lead after the first period.

Thanks to seven first quarter turnovers, the Dukes attempted just three shots in the first period. Fortunately, all of them reached the back of the goal.

After Whitney Young scored the match's first goal, Tim Jensen tallied for the Dukes. Nick Kamenica followed with a score with 2:07 left and Jensen fired another successful shot with just 9 seconds left in the quarter.

York continued with successful, high-percentage shots. The Dukes converted their next two scoring attempts by Gavin Honken and Matthew Czech to make it 5-3.

York missed its next three shots and the Dolphins cut the margin to 5-4. York goalie Jack Schroeder, who made 9 first-half saves, stopped the Dolphins to as time expired to give York a 5-4 halftime lead.

Whitney Young came out strong on the offensive end in the third quarter. The Dolphins scored a pair of quick goals to pull ahead 6-5.

From there the teams traded goals with Kamenica scoring for York to tie the game at 6-6. Honken would score on a penalty shot with 4:04 left to make it 7-7. Later, Charlie McKenna would again tie the game with a goal with 2:49 left in the period to make it 8-8.

Whitney Young would score just 16 seconds later to lead 9-8 after three periods.

Schroeder kept the Dukes in the game with a couple of nice saves and a steal. But the Dolphins pulled ahead 10-8 with 4:10 left on shot just inside the post.

York wasn't ready to quit.

McKenna scored with 3:16 to play to cut the margin to 10-9.

The Dukes had numerous chances after that, but just couldn't find a way to get the final goal they needed. Whitney Young was then able to run out the final 18 seconds to secure the win.

"I am thankful for this year," Drumm said. "It is hard when you lose your last game. But that doesn't take away from what we have accomplished. We were conference champs and sectional champs. That game really could have gone either way."

Czech, who scored 70 goals this season, said he is thankful for the season with his friends.

"It was a great season and I had a lot of fun with my teammates," Czech said. "We thought we were ready, but we just got a bit nervous and it got to us."

Schroeder, who was in goal last year for the Dukes, said it was a difficult loss.

"It is just as disappointing," Schroeder said. "Both were great teams. The guys are amazing, always and forever."

-- Dick Quagliano

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