Boys Water Polo: Lyons enter season ranked near top of heap
Updated: March 5, 2012 6:46PM
After setting a school record for wins in a season, what can Lyons Township do for an encore?
LT lost its top scorer and starting goalie to graduation, but there are plenty of reasons for the Lions to be excited about the upcoming season.
Illpolo.com ranked Lyons Township No. 2 in its preseason Top 25 poll. The website’s top-ranked team is Fenwick, which will attempt to win its ninth consecutive state title this spring.
Fenwick went undefeated last season, and beat the Lions 10-8 in a State quarterfinal.
“I remember we were down four to five goals at State,” said LT junior Joe Shannon. “David Sekula fouled out in the third quarter … time was not our side. They ran out the clock.”
Sekula led Lyons Township (32-3 in ’11, 5-0 WSC) with 138 goals last season, and goalie Andrew Brown had a 4.53 goals-against average. Both are now playing college water polo — Sekula at Division III Redlands in California, and Brown at Brown University.
Lyons Township also lost to Fenwick 8-6 in the Stevenson Invitational last year. Last season, the closest any team came to beating Fenwick was Naperville Central, which lost 7-6 in the final game of the Stevenson Invitational.
LT has three returning starters: Shannon, Kovas Zygas and Danny McGuinness. Zygas was named to illpolo.com’s preseason First Team. Zygas scored a team-high three goals in the state quarterfinal loss, and is the top returning scorer (66 goals). Shannon had 51 goals.
Zygas, a rare three-sport athlete, just finished the swimming season, and he played soccer in the fall. He scored one of LT’s goals in a season-ending, 4-3 double-overtime defeat to eventual state champion Morton.
Lyons Township reached the state quarterfinals for the sixth time in the last seven years, and will be looking for its third state trophy after placing fourth in 2009 and third in ’06.
“I think we’re feeling really strong,” Shannon said. “There was no surprise last year. We had a very strong season.”
Members of this year’s team have been together since they were 8 years old, as part of the Lyons Swim Club. Shannon’s first coach — at age 9 — was current coach Doug Eichstaedt. Shannon was named to illpolo.com’s preseason Second Team.
Other LT returnees include Josh Hirt, Peter Dore and Sean McMahon.
The team’s big-time newcomer is Chris Sekula, David’s younger brother, who has found his niche as a goalie instead of being a field player. He played on the frosh-soph team, and then was added to varsity for the postseason. Sekula, Shannon, McMahon and Dore were members of a Chicago-area team that qualified for the Junior Olympics last summer in Orange County, Calif.
Chris Sekula, who doesn’t participate with the swimming team, plays water polo nearly year-round.
“I quit swimming to pursue water polo,” Sekula said. “I thought it was more exciting. I played in the field, but I did not like it too much.”
Sekula knows it will hard to replace Brown, who allowed 136 goals last season and gave up only one goal in three matches.
“I practiced with Andrew last year, and we talked about (2012),” Sekula said. “It was going to be my time to take the torch, take over the high play of Lyons Township goalies.”
The Lions were set to open the season with a match against Oak Park-River Forest at home on Tuesday. The Huskies are ranked No. 9 by illpolo.com.