Boys Water Polo: Lyons shocks Fenwick, snaps eight-year reign
Updated: May 12, 2012 9:29PM
Ever since Lyons junior Joe Shannon and his teammates were children learning the game of water polo, one thing was understood.
“We knew the common enemy was the Friars,” Shannon said of eight-time defending state champion Fenwick. “They’ve had a dynasty.”
With a berth in next weekend’s state tournament on the line in Saturday’s York Sectional final, the Lions were able to use the past tense when discussing Fenwick’s dynasty.
With a dramatic 8-7 win over the Friars, Lyons put the dynasty on hold for at least one year.
“It’s something that we’ve been working towards,” Lyons coach Doug Eichstaedt said. “It was great to see alumni up in the stands that started this with me 10 years ago. There are no shortcuts. They were able to do this because they worked extremely hard. Over the years, we’ve been able to build something. The hard work paid off. I’m just so proud of our boys to be able to achieve a big win like this.”
Late in the third quarter, a win for the Lions (31-2) seemed improbable. A goal off a penalty shot from Fenwick junior standout Matt Farmer, back after missing two weeks with an illness, gave the Friars (31-2) a 6-3 lead with 40 seconds left in the third. It was his third goal of the game.
“For three quarters, we were pretty lights out,” Fenwick coach Kyle Perry said. “We were feeling good. I don’t think we got tired. We just couldn’t keep it together the whole game.”
The Lyons resurgence coincided with Shannon’s offensive awakening. He was held scoreless in Friday’s win over Oak Park-River Forest and through Farmer’s goal. But he put in a goal with 21 seconds left in the third to start the Lions’ comeback.
Two goals from senior Kovas Zygas to start the fourth tied the game at 6-6. Fenwick’s Dan Kelly gave the Friars the lead back, 7-6, on a rebound goal with 3:44 left. But Shannon took over from there. He scored the tying and winning goals, the final coming at the 1:34 mark.
“It seemed unreal,” Shannon said. “I was dead tired by the third quarter.”
The game didn’t end without controversy, however. With 45 seconds left, Fenwick had the ball and tried to set something up offensively. When nothing developed, however, Perry called a timeout to retain possession and draw up a play. However, it was ruled that neither team had possession, so Lyons was awarded the ball with 35 seconds left. The Lions were able to salt away the win from there.
“It looked like my guy (Farmer) had the ball,” Perry said. “All I was looking for was to get the timeout to keep the possession. I disagree a little bit with the call that was made there. You deal with it.”
Many people billed this as the de facto state championship game, but after the celebration died down a bit, the reality of another weekend of water polo set in.
“We’re well aware we have to win three more games if we want to be state champions,” Eichstaedt said. “It’s not going to be easy next weekend. We’ll get back to work on Monday and get ourselves ready to go.”