Boys Water Polo: Lockport looking to keep improvingDan Oldendorf (center) smiles while practicing with members of the Lockport boys water polo team as seen in Lockport High School Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, in Lockport. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 7, 2012 8:14PM
From 11-19 in 2010 to 19-11 in 2011, with some big-time victories among the 19, Lockport’s boys water polo team had one of the state’s best breakthrough seasons last year.
The big question? Can the Porters continue to move their program in the right direction despite the losses of two talented scorers and their goalie.
“Last year was a lot better than the year before,” Lockport senior David Hir said. “This year, we’ve got a bunch of seniors with three years of varsity experience. We have a lot of confidence.”
While Chris Bowman and Brian Cavanaugh, who each went over 100 goals last season, are gone to graduation, Hir has shown the ability to be the Porters’ new go-to guy. He was great at the end of last year, scoring nine times in a sectional quarterfinal win over Andrew.
“That was a really good game,” Hir said. “We tried a new offense and I got to play in the hole set and did really well. That was definitely a confidence builder.”
Porters coach Joe Lewandowski, though, isn’t looking to just one player to pick up the scoring slack.
“Last year we had two guys that were clearly our go-to guys,” he said. “This year, I think we’ll be more balanced. We’ll hopefully get contributions from a lot of our guys. These guys all know each other and our overall ability to play as a group will be big.”
Along with Hir, Zach Trent, Dan Oldendorf, Jake Elias and Alex Koch figure to be a big part of Lockport’s offense.
Matt Yaeger, a part-time goalie last season, could take over the role full-time with the departure of Jeremy Hamilton, though others are also competing for the job.
One certainty is that the Porters are eager for their March 12 season opener against St. Rita.
“This year, we’re putting in more work than we ever have before,” Hir said. “Everybody’s pumped. We’re ready to go. We just want to have a really good season.”
What would define a really good season for Lockport? Contending in the SouthWest Suburban Blue, where the Porters finished third in 2011 and pulled off an upset of runner-up Homewood-Flossmoor, would be a strong start.
Lewandowski’s other goals range from modest to history making.
“We have some small stuff we want to do, like making sure we’re at least over .500,” he said. “Our main goal is to get to our sectional final. We’ve never done that before. Our kids want that really bad this year and we’re hoping we can get there.”