Boys water polo: Stevenson falls in triple OT, takes 4th in state

  • Stevenson's Jacob Whiting shoots and scores over Lyons' Jack Bradbury in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Jacob Whiting shoots and scores over Lyons' Jack Bradbury in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Kunal Rajadhyax looks for a teammate against Lyons in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Kunal Rajadhyax looks for a teammate against Lyons in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Jack Osmond, back, and Lyons' Matt Jablonski battle for the ball in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Jack Osmond, back, and Lyons' Matt Jablonski battle for the ball in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis struggles against Lyons' Matt Jablonski and Jimmy Bolan, right, in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis struggles against Lyons' Matt Jablonski and Jimmy Bolan, right, in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis shoots and scores over Lyons' Matt Jablonski in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Olin Kusevskis shoots and scores over Lyons' Matt Jablonski in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Kunal Rajadhyax shoots and scores against Lyons in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Kunal Rajadhyax shoots and scores against Lyons in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Andrew Mossman swipes the ball away from Lyons' Matt Jablonski in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Stevenson's Andrew Mossman swipes the ball away from Lyons' Matt Jablonski in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lyons' Jack Bradbury shoots and scores against Stevenson in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Lyons' Jack Bradbury shoots and scores against Stevenson in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lyons' Jack Bradbury takes the winning shot in triple overtime to beat Stevenson in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Lyons' Jack Bradbury takes the winning shot in triple overtime to beat Stevenson in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Lyons' Jack Bradbury shoots and scores against Stevenson early in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

      Lyons' Jack Bradbury shoots and scores against Stevenson early in the boys water polo state third-place game in Lincolnshire on Saturday, May 21, 2022. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/21/2022 9:19 PM

Stevenson senior center Jacob Whiting was coming off surgery to repair a meniscus tear.

Lyons senior utility Jack Bradbury went on a scoring tear -- as in 9 goals.

 

Behold two of the riveting storylines in Saturday afternoon's third-place boys water polo game at the state finals at Stevenson.

Lyons edged the host Patriots 12-11 in triple overtime, after leading 8-4 in the final minute of the third quarter and trailing 10-9 after the first OT in Lincolnshire.

Stevenson struck for 2 goals in the final 1:27 of regulation to force extra time.

"We had high expectations, as always," said Stevenson coach Sean Wimer, whose program captured a state title in 2017 and won another when it topped Lyons 15-8 in the 2021 final to cap a 30-0 season. "We fell short today. It hurts. But we didn't fold after falling behind late and played our best game of the season.

"I'm beyond impressed."

Bradbury's feat Saturday, as Lyons defeated Stevenson for the fourth time in as many games this spring? Beyond comprehension, to many. The Cal Lutheran recruit poured in the Lions' first 5 goals and 4 of their last 6, including the clincher -- a zippy skip shot -- at the 2:01 mark of the third OT.

"Happy memories," Bradbury (125 goals in '22) said of Lyons' 30-3 season. "Lots of them. But I'm also sad, because it's over. These past four years were the best ones of my life."

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Whiting's past several months were part harrowing, part stirring. He tore a meniscus knee ligament in a wrestling practice the week of regionals but still grappled at the postseason meet and ended up winning a sectional title -- after stunning the reigning state champ at 195 pounds.

He underwent surgery in late February and didn't enter a pool for his first water polo practice until May 9.

Whiting scored 2 goals, including the one that cut Lyons' lead to 9-8, in the third-place game Saturday. His entry pass preceded senior attacker Angelos Koutsogeorgas' tally that knotted it at 11 with 22 seconds left in the first OT.

"Best athlete I've ever coached," Wimer said of Whiting, a Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) polo recruit.

Koutsogeorgas paced Stevenson (23-11) with 4 goals. Junior Kunal Rajadhyax (game-high 3 assists) and sophomore Olin Kusevskis netted 2 apiece, and senior attackman Sullivan Swanson scored 1.

Pats Armaan Gill (4 saves) and Mark Younan (7) shared time in goal.

Lyons sophomore goalie Charlie Vik (11 saves) played superbly, particularly during a 15-second span in the third frame when he stopped a 5-meter penalty shot and then soared to make another save.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The efforts preserved a 7-4 lead.

"Amazing game," said Lions coach Doug Eichstaedt, who got 2 goals from senior attackman Jimmy Bolan and 1 from senior attackman Matt Jablonski. "We kept making plays, and Jack put the team on his back. It's tough playing for third place after losing a semi earlier in the day.

"But we talked. We reminded them that there's only one way to play every game -- give your best."

Lyons fell 9-6 to New Trier in a semifinal Saturday; Stevenson lost 7-4 to Young in the other semi.

New Trier defeated Young 13-11 Saturday night for its first state championship in program history.

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